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An apostolic prefect or prefect apostolic is a priest who heads what is known as an apostolic prefecture, a 'pre-diocesan' missionary jurisdiction where the Catholic Church is not yet sufficiently developed to have it made a diocese. Although it usually has an (embryonal) see, it is often not called after such city but rather after a natural or administrative (in many cases colonial) geographical area.
If a prefecture grows and flourishes, it may be elevated to an apostolic vicariate, headed by a titular bishop, in the hope that with time the region will generate enough Catholics and stability for its Catholic institutions, to warrant being established as a diocese. Both these stages remain missionary, hence exempt, i.e. directly subject to the Holy See (notably the Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples), normally not part of an ecclesiastical province.
The full sequence of development is: independent mission, apostolic prefecture, apostolic vicariate, apostolic diocese; however steps may be skipped at the papal discretion, so the next steps may be bishopric or even archbishopric.
The apostolic prefecture and the apostolic vicariate are to be distinguished from the territorial abbacy (formerly called an "abbey nullius").
During the last centuries of the second millennium it was the practice of the Holy See to govern either through prefects apostolic or apostolic vicariates, many territories where no dioceses with resident bishops were erected and where local circumstances, such as the character and customs of the people or hostility of civil powers, made it doubtful whether an episcopal see could be permanently established. The establishing of a prefecture apostolic in a place supposes that the Church has attained only a small development in the area. Fuller growth leads to the foundation of an apostolic vicariate as an intermediate stage to becoming a diocese.
A prefect apostolic is of lower rank than a vicar apostolic. The prefect's powers are more limited and do not normally possess the episcopal character, as is ordinarily the case with a vicar apostolic. The duties of a prefect apostolic consist in directing the work of the mission entrusted to his care; his powers are in general those necessarily connected with the ordinary administration of such an office, for instance: the assigning of missionaries and the making of regulations for the good management of the affairs of the mission. Until the Second Vatican Council, the prefect apostolic had extraordinary faculties for several cases reserved otherwise to diocesan bishops, such as absolutions from censures, dispensations from matrimonial impediments and the faculty of consecrating chalices, patens, and portable altars, with some having the power to administer Confirmation.
Prefects apostolic govern independent territories and are subject only to the pope. When a vicariate or a diocese extended over a very large territory in which the Catholic population was unequally distributed, the Holy See sometimes placed a portion of the territory in charge of a prefect apostolic; in which case the faculties of the prefect were more limited, and in the exercise of his office he was supervised by the vicar apostolic or the diocesan bishop. With a view to better protecting the authority of the local vicar apostolic or bishop, it was proposed in the First Vatican Council to abolish prefects apostolic having jurisdiction over districts within a vicariate or diocese of the Latin Rite, but the Council was interrupted and the practice continued until Pope Leo XIII abolished them within the Oriental Churches by a decree of Propaganda Fide on 12 September 1896, and established superiors with special dependence on the papal representatives of the areas concerned.
In 1911 there were 66 prefectures apostolic: 5 in Europe; 17 in Asia; 3 in North America (e.g., the Yukon); 11 in South America; 23 in Africa and 7 in Oceania.
At the end of 2010, the prefectures apostolic were only 39, of which the vast majority (29) were in PR China (many vacant), where development of the Catholic Church, including that of the prefectures, had long been hindered by actions of the government. The 10 other prefectures included a newly created one for Azerbaijan, 4 more in Asia, 3 in Africa, 1 in the Americas and 1 in Oceania.
Most former apostolic prefectures were promoted to apostolic vicariate or territorial prelature (under a titular bishop) or (mostly later) to a diocese or even an archdiocese (under a residential bishop), but some ceased to exist (at least under their name or extent) being suppressed or sometimes dismembered.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Honolulu is the diocesan bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu in the United States, which encompasses the entire state of Hawaii and the unincorporated Hawaiian Islands. The Honolulu diocese is a suffragan see in the metropolitan province of the Archbishop of San Francisco. The Bishop of Honolulu is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has two ecclesiastical seats: the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and the Co-Cathedral of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, both located in the City of Honolulu.
An apostolic vicariate is a territorial jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church under a titular bishop centered in missionary regions and countries where dioceses or parishes have not yet been established. It is essentially provisional, though it may last for a century or more. The hope is that the region will generate sufficient numbers of Catholics for the Church to create a diocese. In turn, the status of apostolic vicariate is often a promotion for a former apostolic prefecture, while either may have started out as a mission sui iuris.
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. The area is not yet a diocese or for a diocese, eparchy or similar permanent ordinariate that either has no bishop or, in very rare cases, has an incapacitated bishop.
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Prefecture of the Marshall Islands is a Latin rite apostolic prefecture, in the South Sea Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Jeonju is a suffragan diocese of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Gwangju, South Korea, yet depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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 Vicariate Apostolic of Northern Germany was known for most of its existence as the Vicariate Apostolic of the NorthernMissions, established on 28 April 1667. It was a Roman Catholic missionary jurisdiction of a Vicar Apostolic in predominantly Protestant Northern Europe. On 7 August 1868, on the occasion of completing separate jurisdictions for all of Scandinavia, the vicariate only continued to comprise small areas in Northern Germany and was thus renamed. With the integration of these areas into other Roman Catholic dioceses the vicariate ceased to exist on 13 August 1930.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Changde is a suffragan Latin diocese in the Ecclesiastical province of Changsha, in Central China, yet depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Yuanling is a Latin Rite diocese located in the county of Yuanling in the Ecclesiastical province of Changsha in China, yet depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. No statistics available.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manado is a Latin rite suffragan diocese in the Ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Makassar on Sulawesi island in Indonesia, yet depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Territorial Prelature of Tromsø is a Roman Catholic territorial prelature located in the city of Tromsø in Norway. The territory is divided into 7 parishes located in the following sites: Tromsø, Bodø, Hammerfest, Harstad, Mosjøen, Narvik and Storfjord.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo is an exempt diocese located in the city of Oslo in Norway.
The Vicariate Apostolic of Mitú is a Latin pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Colombia.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo is a Latin Catholic missionary pre-diocesan jurisdiction covering the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces in southern Philippines.
The Apostolic Prefecture of Xinjiang-Urumqi is a pre-diocesan missionary Latin jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in north-western China's vast region Xinjiang, which is exempt, i.e. directly dependent on the Holy See and its missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, not part of any ecclesiastical province.
The Apostolic Prefecture of Lixian is Latin rite pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Catholic Church with seat in Lixian, central China.
The Apostolic Prefecture of Yueyang is Latin pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Catholic Church with seat in Yueyang, Hunan province, central China.