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An Apostolic administration in the Catholic Church is administrated by a prelate appointed by the Pope to serve as the ordinary for a specific area. Either the area is not yet a diocese (a stable 'pre-diocesan', usually missionary apostolic administration), or is a diocese, eparchy or similar permanent ordinariate (such as a territorial prelature or a territorial abbacy) that either has no bishop (an apostolic administrator sede vacante , as after an episcopal death or resignation) or, in very rare cases, has an incapacitated bishop (apostolic administrator sede plena).
Apostolic administrators of stable administrations are equivalent in canon law with diocesan bishops, meaning they have essentially the same authority as a diocesan bishop. This type of apostolic administrator is usually the bishop of a titular see.
Administrators sede vacante or sede plena only serve in their role until a newly chosen diocesan bishop takes possession of the diocese. They are restricted by canon law in what they can do to the diocese they temporarily administer. For example, such an administrator may not sell real estate owned by the diocese. This type of administrator is commonly an auxiliary bishop of the diocese, a priest serving as the vicar general of the diocese, or the ordinary of a neighboring diocese.
Normally when a diocese falls vacant, either the previously appointed Coadjutor bishop takes possession of the see or (lacking such successor) a vicar capitular/diocesan administrator is chosen locally, but the Pope, having full governmental power, can preempt this choice and name an apostolic administrator instead. Sometimes a retiring, promoted or transferred (arch)bishop is designated to be apostolic administrator until his successor is designated and takes office, sometimes the Metropolitan or a fellow suffragan is appointed.
In May 2015, there were the following stable apostolic administrations, most administered by a (titular or external) bishop.
Most are of the Roman rite; most are in former or current communist countries.
Some apostolic administrations have jurisdiction not only over Latin Rite Catholics, but also over Catholics of other rites, not having their own jurisdictions there:
Also some apostolic administrations have jurisdiction only over Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, that not having their own jurisdictions there:
The Diocese of Pyongyang, North Korea: its last official bishop, Francis Hong Yong-ho, was imprisoned by the communist regime of Kim Il-sung in 1949 and later disappeared. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Seoul (South Korea) acts as the Apostolic Administrator in Pyongyang, as religion is suppressed in North Korea.
In addition, the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney is a non-territorial jurisdiction, similar to a personal prelature, which is exempt, i.e. immediately subject to the Holy See, not part of any ecclesiastical province. It is a separate particular church for traditionalist Catholics within the Brazilian Diocese of Campos, a suffragan of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Niterói.
The personal apostolic administration was formed by Pope John Paul II to administer to a group of traditionalist Catholic priests, using the Tridentine Mass, who reconciled with Rome on January 18, 2002. The group had been formed by bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer and had been associated with the Society of St. Pius X of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
It is fairly typical that the Pope appoints an Apostolic Administrator to a diocese which is sede vacante, thus replacing the diocesan administrator. Usually, the emeritus bishop will be appointed in such a case. Recently (and in exception to the latter), the archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh had Philip Tartaglia under this procedure.
For example, Luis Antonio Tagle was appointed as Prefect of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 9 December 2019, and he took office in February 2020. Broderick Soncuaco Pabillo, the current Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, was appointed as Apostolic Administrator.
Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, the Bishop of Hong Kong died on 3 January 2019. Cardinal John Tong Hon, Bishop Emeritus, was appointed as Apostolic Administrator.
There is also the ability for the Pope to appoint an apostolic administrator sede plena. Anthony Sablan Apuron, the Archbishop of Agana was under investigation for sexual abuse in June 2016. Pope Francis appointed Savio Hon Tai-fai as apostolic administrator sede plena, as temporary replacement. On 31 October 2016, Michael J. Byrnes, then Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Agana with full administrative authority, and later succeeded as Archbishop.
The term exarch comes from the Ancient Greek ἔξαρχος, exarchos, and designates holders of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
A territorial prelate is, in Catholic usage, a prelate whose geographic jurisdiction, called territorial prelature, does not belong to any diocese and is considered a particular church.
A mission sui iuris, or in Latin missio sui iuris ; also spelled mission(s) sui juris), also known as an independent mission, is a rare type of Roman Catholic missionary pseudo-diocesan jurisdiction, ranking below an apostolic prefecture and an apostolic vicariate, in an area with very few Catholics, often desolate or remote.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lipa is an archdiocese in the Philippines comprising the civil province of Batangas and with its cathedral located in the city of Lipa. First created in 1910 from the Archdiocese of Manila, the diocese was elevated into its present status in 1972. Today, the Ecclesiastical Province of Lipa covers Batangas and suffragan territories in the civil provinces of Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro and Aurora. The archdiocese itself is divided into 14 vicariates further comprising a total of 64 parishes.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul is a Latin Rite Metropolitan Archdiocese in Papua New Guinea.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nampula is an archbishopric and the metropolitan see for one of the three ecclesiastical provinces in Mozambique in (south)eastern Africa, yet still depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana is a Latin archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Kazakhstan.
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada is a Ukrainian Catholic eparchy in the Eastern part of Canada.
Bishops of the Wrocław Bishopric, Prince-Bishopric (1290–1918), and Archdiocese.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Split-Makarska is a Metropolitan archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in Croatia and Montenegro. The diocese was established in the 3rd century AD and was made an archdiocese and metropolitan see in the 10th century. The modern diocese was erected in 1828, when the historical archdiocese of Salona was combined with the Diocese of Makarska. It was elevated as an archdiocese and metropolitan see in 1969, restoring the earlier status of the archdiocese of Split, as it is also known. The diocese was also known as Spalato-Macarsca.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rijeka is a Latin Catholic Metropolitan archdiocese in Croatia.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Antofagasta is a Latin rite Metropolitan archdiocese in northern Chile's Antofagasta Province.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of (Santíssima) Conceição do Araguaia is a Latin suffragan diocese of the Roman Catholic church, in the Ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan of Belém do Pará in Brazil.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoeiro do Norte is a Latin rite suffragan diocese in the Ecclesiastical province of Fortaleza, both in Ceará state, northeast Brazil.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pyay is a suffragan diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in Burma, in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yangon (Rangoon), but like that depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Alaminos is a Roman Rite diocese of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.