Apostolic vicariate

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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.

Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice within a defined field of responsibility, e.g., Michigan tax law. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels; e.g. the court has jurisdiction to apply federal law.

A titular bishop in various churches is a bishop who is not in charge of a diocese. By definition, a bishop is an "overseer" of a community of the faithful, so when a priest is ordained a bishop, the tradition of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches is that he be ordained for a specific place. There are more bishops than there are functioning dioceses. Therefore, a priest appointed not to head a diocese as its diocesan bishop but to be an auxiliary bishop, a papal diplomat, or an official of the Roman Curia is appointed to a titular see.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

Contents

It is exempt, directly subject to the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, not part of an ecclesiastical province, like the stage of apostolic prefecture which often precedes it, and meant to mature until it can be promoted to (usually suffragan) bishopric.

An ecclesiastical province is one of the basic forms of jurisdiction in Christian Churches with traditional hierarchical structure, including Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity. In general, an ecclesiastical province consists of several dioceses, one of them being the archdiocese, headed by metropolitan bishop or archbishop who has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all other bishops of the province.

Apostolic prefecture missionary area not yet developed enough to become a diocese

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 geographical area.

The Eastern Catholic counterpart is an (apostolic, patriarchal, or archiepiscopal) exarchate.

An exarchate is any territorial jurisdiction whose ruler is described as an exarch.

Institution

An apostolic vicariate is led by a vicar apostolic who is usually a titular bishop. While such a territory can be classed as a particular church, according to canon 371.1 of the Latin Code of Canon Law, a vicar apostolic's jurisdiction is an exercise of the jurisdiction of the Pope the territory thus comes directly under the pope as "universal bishop", and the pope exercises this authority through a "vicar". This is unlike the jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop, whose jurisdiction derives directly from his office.

Pope Leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Like any ecclesiastical jurisdiction, an apostolic vicariate may be administered by the bishop of a neighbouring diocese, or by a priest appointed transitionally as an apostolic administrator. As in a regular diocese, the vicar apostolic may appoint priests as vicars exercising limited jurisdiction over the apostolic vicariate. Normally, however, an apostolic vicariate is administered by a titular bishop of its own. When someone who does not qualify or has not been ordained as bishop is appointed ad interim, he may be styled Pro-apostolic vicar.

A vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior. Linguistically, vicar is cognate with the English prefix "vice", similarly meaning "deputy". The title appears in a number of Christian ecclesiastical contexts, but also as an administrative title, or title modifier, in the Roman Empire. In addition, in the Holy Roman Empire a local representative of the emperor, perhaps an archduke, might be styled "vicar".

An apostolic vicariate is to be distinguished from an apostolic prefecture, a similar type of territory whose chief distinction from an apostolic vicariate is that its prefect is not a titular bishop, but a mere priest. The latter is not organised enough to be elevated to apostolic vicariate. The less developed instance is the mission sui iuris, which other than the ones mentioned before is not a particular church, although it shares some similarities to one; at its head, an ecclesiastical superior is named. The usual sequence of development is mission, apostolic prefecture, apostolic vicariate and finally diocese (or even archdiocese). See also apostolic exarch for an Eastern Catholic counterpart.

Prefect Magisterial title

Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition, but essentially refers to the leader of an administrative area.

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.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.

The apostolic vicariate is distinguished from a territorial abbacy (or "abbey nullius") an area not a diocese but under the direction of the abbot of a monastery.

List

Current apostolic vicariates

Africa

The Americas

Asia

Europe

Historical apostolic vicariates

(incomplete)

Inactive apostolic vicariates (and/or former names, often promoted to diocese) are in italics. Eastern Catholic (mostly Byzantine Rite) apostolic vicariates are in bold.

Africa

The Americas

Asia

Europe

Oceania

See also

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References

  1. Cheney, David M. "Archdiocese of Seoul". catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 20 August 2015.[ self-published source ]