Pro Imperator! Pro Hominum!
The Adeptus Ministorum, more commonly known as the Ecclesiarchy, is the official state church of the Imperium of Man, which maintains and promotes the worship of the Emperor of Mankind as the one, true God of Humanity. It is a massive organisation that guides the worship of billions of people on numberless worlds and across great divides of distance, language, and culture. The core of the Ecclesiarchy’s spiritual and temporal power is the Cult Imperialis, also known variously as the Imperial Creed or Imperial Cult. The foundation of the Cult Imperialis is the belief in and worship of the Emperor as a divine being, the power of the Emperor to intercede in matters spiritual and temporal, the power of prayer to bring about a change in circumstances, and the divine right of Mankind to rule the stars. The Adeptus Ministorum also administers and spreads the Imperial Cult throughout the territory of the Imperium.
Ecclesiarch – It is the High Priest of the Imperial Cult and is based in a fortress within the Ecclesiarchical Palace on Terra. Elected by the Adeptus Ministorum’s ruling Holy Synod of Arch-Cardinals, the Ecclesiarch’s main concerns include the pursuit of the Ministorum’s interests in the Senatorum Imperialis, the preparation and launch of new Imperial Crusades and wars of faith, and ensuring the continued religious devotion of the Imperial citizenry. The Ecclesiarch has held a position as a ruling High Lord of Terra since the 32nd Millennium, and is always one of the most influenctial voices on the Senatorum Imperialis.
Arch-Cardinal – It is the official who stands at the top of the Ministorum’s hierarchy leading a Sector Synod, which is more often than not more of an idea or principle than a rigid structure or chain of command. Though an Arch-Cardinal is the head of the Sector Synod and commands (or at least has substantial influence over) each of the dioceses in the sector, the true power of the Ministorum rests in the hands of the individual Diocesan Synods, often known by the world (or location on that world) where the Cardinal resides.
Cardinal – Central to the Ministorum’s power within a sector of Imperial space are the dioceses, the demesnes of the faith, each of which is under the command of the Cardinals of the Sector Synod. Some dioceses can encompass several worlds or even an entire sector in the case of the officials granted the extremely powerful rank of Cardinal-Astra. This division allows the Ministorum detailed control over the sub-regions within a sector as well as giving individual worlds or specific problems direct attention. Each Cardinal of the Sector Synod is a powerful individual in his or her own right, having risen to his lofty position through years of sacrifice, devotion to the God-Emperor, and most importantly, cunning and relentless politicking. Each Cardinal maintains his own diocese on the world on which he resides, more commonly referred to as his seat of power — the centre of the Cardinal’s authority and base of operations within his Arch-Diocese, from which he rarely if ever leaves.
Arch-Deacon – It is a senior Ministorum priest who is subordinate to a Cardinal and helps to oversee the daily functions and duties of the Creed Temporal. This branch of the Ecclesiarchy oversees the astronomical wealth flowing into its treasuries, wealth which is rendered by the faithful as their right and proper offering to the Imperial Cult i the service of their souls’ salvation. It is the Arch-Deacon’s duty to administer to the logistics of the diocese, coordinating the construction and maintenance of its cathedrals as well as countless other institutions such as Shrine Worlds, pilgrimage sites, reliquaries and retreats. Each Arch-Deacon is responsible for the distribution of as much wealth as an Imperial Sector Governor or the patriarch of a wealthy interstellar merchant concern, and they are often the subjects of bitter jealousy from such secular lords of the Imperium.
Deacon – Below the Arch-Deacons are those Ministorum priests known as Deacons and Deans, who are responsible for the distribution of the resources passed down to them from the Sector Synod, as well as the actual collection of dues from the faithful.
Firebrand – Groups of zealots and militant preachers often serve an important purpose in rooting out heresy. Cells of these fiery individuals pray and recite litanies together, often during combat. These Firebrands must be handled with care by whatever controlling entity (be it Ecclesiarchy or Inquisitorial) puts them in the field, as Firebrands are just as likely to report the existence of a heretical enclave as they are to incinerate the city block where the enclave is meeting.
Drill Abbot – It is a member of the Ministorum and a decorated veteran of the Imperium’s wars who works tirelessly at converting the orphans of martyred Imperial servants into driven and dedicated fanatics prepared for the trials of Imperial life. Drill Abbots run the Scholas Progenium, brutally effective institutions which every year produce untold numbers of Planetary Governors, Imperial Guard Commissars, Adeptus Arbites Arbitrators, Imperial Navy officers, Storm Troopers and Inquisitors.
Confessor – It is a free-roaming zealot of the Imperial Cult who use his evangelical platform to agitate the crowds of Imperial citizenry that turn up to hear him. Under the spell of an Arch-Confessor, swathes of citizens will rush forwards to confess their personal heresies, reveal their hideous mutations and betray their comrades as psykers or other untrustworthy deviants. A Confessor might have administrative responsibility for a hive city or, if it is less populated, an entire world, or in frontier regions an entire star system or even a sub-sector. Just as not every Imperial Cardinal heads a diocese, not all Confessors are not responsible for a specific geographic area. Many act autonomously, their duties taking them far and wide across a given region of the Imperium. Some find themselves attached to other Imperial institutions and Adepta. Often, an Imperial Guard general or Imperial Navy admiral might have as his most trusted confidante a senior Confessor, who advises him on spiritual matters and bolsters his resolve to enact the Emperor’s will.
Preacher – It is the lowest ranking member of the Imperial clergy within the Ecclesiarchy. They are known as the Defenders of the Faith. Often individual regiments of the Imperial Guard and vessels of the Imperial Navy are accompanied by dozens of Preachers, many of whom regard it as their duty to personally take the field of battle and provide religious inspiration to those in their care. A Preacher is also the rank of Ministorum priest who is given a parish of his own to run which is centred on an Imperial shrine. A Preacher is the priest of the Imperial Cult who will have the most day-to-day contact with ordinary worshipers. Especially vigorous and charismatic Preachers may be lucky enough to be promoted to become Confessors.