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In the Catholic Church, an apostolic visitor (or Apostolic Visitator) is a papal representative with a transient mission to perform a canonical visitation of relatively short duration. The visitor is deputed to investigate a special circumstance in a diocese or country, and to submit a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the investigation.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
A canonical visitation is the act of an ecclesiastical superior who in the discharge of his office visits persons or places with a view to maintaining faith and discipline, and of correcting abuses. A person delegated to carry out such a visitation is called a visitor. When, in exceptional circumstances, the Holy See delegates an Apostolic visitor "to evaluate an ecclesiastical institute such as a seminary, diocese, or religious institute ... to assist the institute in question to improve the way in which it carries out its function in the life of the Church," this is known as an apostolic visitation.
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.
Apostolic visitors are church officials whom canonists commonly class with papal legates. Visitors differ from other Apostolic delegates, principally in this, that their mission is only transient and of comparatively short duration.
A papal legate or apostolic legate is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters.
In ancient times, the popes generally exercised their right of inspecting the dioceses of various countries through their nuncios or delegates (c. 1, Extravag. Comm. de Consuet. I, 1; c. 17, X, de Cens. III, 39), though they occasionally, even in the primitive ages, sent special visitors.
An apostolic nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomat, serving as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a state or to an international organization. A nuncio is appointed by and represents the Holy See, and is the head of the diplomatic mission, called an Apostolic Nunciature, which is the equivalent of an embassy. The Holy See is legally distinct from the Vatican City or the Catholic Church. A nuncio is usually an archbishop.
In the modern time, the mission of papal nuncios is rather of a diplomatic than of a visitatorial character. Visitors are, however, deputed by the pope for special emergencies and not at stated intervals. Their duty is to inspect the state of the Church in the country confided to them and then to draw up a report to the Holy See. At times, this visitation is made with the same attention to details as is an episcopal visitation.
Visitors Apostolic are also appointed to visit the various provinces of a religious order, whenever, in the judgment of the pope, this becomes useful or necessary. In all cases of Apostolic visitation, the pope, through delegates, is putting into effect the supreme and immediate jurisdiction which is his for any and every part of the Church. The exact powers of a visitor can be known only from his brief of delegation. His office ceases as soon as he has submitted his report to the Holy See through the Consistorial Congregation.
For the city of Rome itself there is a permanent Commission of the Apostolic Visitation. Established by Urban VIII as one of the Roman congregations under the presidency of the cardinal vicar, it was changed into a commission by Pope Pius X through the Constitution "Sapienti Consilio" (29 June 1908). These Apostolic visitors annually inspect the parishes and institutions of Rome and report on their spiritual and financial condition. They pay special attention to the fulfilment of the obligations springing from pious foundations and legacies for Masses and chaplaincies.
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Pope Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was head of the Roman Catholic Church from August 1903 to his death in 1914. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting liturgical reforms and orthodox theology. He directed the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the first comprehensive and systemic work of its kind.
In Eastern Catholic (non-Latin) churches, the office of apostolic visitor can be indefinite and the closest thing to an ordinary for communities in regions which have not (yet) been organized into any ordinary jurisdiction. Although there is a history of apostolic visitors in the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic apostolic visitors are generally found in the major Eastern Catholic churches.
Because the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (Byzantine Rite) remains unorganized in terms of structural polity, with no proper jurisdictions of its own erected, since 1960 the Pope has entrusted the pastoral care of Belarusian Greek Catholics to a series of Apostolic Visitors. These apostolic visitors have thus served as the only hierarchs of the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church during this time period.
In recent years, nearly all of the Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Eastern Catholic churches (except the Coptic) have made use of apostolic visitors, mostly in Europe and the Americas. This has sometimes served as a prelude to the creation of an apostolic exarchate or an eparchy. The apostolic visitors are almost always bishops, but only a few of them have a full-time mandate as apostolic visitors. Most of them perform their visitation in addition to some other more primary ecclesiastical role, whether as a residential bishop, an auxiliary bishop, a curial bishop, or their particular church's procurator at Rome.
Since 1986, the Armenian Catholic eparchs of Paris (whose eparchy covers all of France) have served as Apostolic Visitor in Western Europe of the Armenians:
The Chaldean Catholic Church has had an Apostolic Visitor in Europe of the Chaldeans since 2005:
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church currently has one apostolic visitor:
The Romanian Greek Catholic Church currently has one apostolic visitor:
The Syriac Catholic Church currently has two Apostolic Visitors:
The Syriac Maronite Church currently has five apostolic visitors:
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has had a number of apostolic visitors over the last several decades, including two at present:
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has had a number of apostolic visitors over the last few decades, three of whom served as apostolic visitors for two different regions simultaneously. Partly due to the canonical erection of several new eparchies and apostolic exarchates, however, there are currently no Syro-Malankara apostolic visitors at present:
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had several apostolic visitors in Western Europe after the end of World War II and currently has three apostolic visitors:
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 Syro-Malankara Catholic Church also known as the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic sui iuris particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The Church is headed by Major Archbishop Cardinal Cleemis Maphrian of the Major Archdiocese of Trivandrum based in Kerala, India. The Church follows the West Syriac Rite liturgy of Saint James, which is also used in the Maronite Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Church traces its origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. It is one of the two Eastern Catholic Churches from India, the other one being the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which uses the East Syriac Rite liturgy.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church or Church of Malabar Syrian Catholics is an Eastern Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church based in Kerala, India. It is a sui iuris particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, major archbishop is a title for the chief hierarch of an autonomous particular Church that has not been "endowed with the patriarchal title". Major archbishops generally have the same rights, privileges, and jurisdiction as Eastern Catholic patriarchs, except where expressly provided otherwise, and rank immediately after them in precedence of honor.
The Ukrainian (Greek) Catholic Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul of Melbourne is a Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic eparchy (diocese) of the Catholic Church in Australia based in Melbourne and suffragan of its Latin Metropolitan Archbishop of Melbourne.
The Macedonian Greek Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite sui juris Eastern Catholic Church in full union with the Catholic Church which uses the Macedonian language in the liturgy.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy (Diocese) of Sagar is an eparchy in central India, which is part of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, yet is a suffragan in the ecclesiastical province of the Latin rite Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Bhopal. It was created in 1968 as and promoted diocese in 1977 by the Papal Bull "Divina Verba" of Pope Paul VI.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Chanda is an eparchy of the East Syriac Rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, yet suffragan of the Latin Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nagpur.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Satna is an Eastern Catholic eparchy in India, under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church based in the town of Satna. It was erected on February 26, 1977. It is spread out in the northern part of the state Madhya Pradesh. It was made Suffragan ad Instar to the ecclesiastical Province of Bhopal in 1968.The Eparchy of Satna, which comprises seven civil districts of Madhya Pradesh, namely, Satna, Chhatarpur, Panna, Rewa, Sidhi, Singrauli and Tikamgarh, with a population of 1,11,20,815 was bifurcated from the diocese of Jabalpur. It was erected exarchy and entrusted to the Congregation of Vincentian Fathers by the Holy See on 29 July 1968 by the Papal Bull In More Est of Pope Paul VI. Msgr Abraham D Mattam of Vincentian Congregation was nominated its first Apostolic Exarch on 15 August 1968.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Ujjain is a Syro-Malabar eparchy in India, part of the rite-specific the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London is the eparchy (bishopric) for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Great Britain. It is one of two Eastern Rite Catholic dioceses in Great Britain, along with the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Great Britain.
Bishop Hlib Borys Sviatoslav Lonchyna is eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London since 18 January 2013. Previously, he served as the Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain since 14 June 2011.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archparchy or Archdiocese of Curitiba is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic archeparchy located in the city of Curitiba, which is also the Metropolitan see of a Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical province of Curitiba in Brazil.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace, of the United States of America and Canada is the North American eparchy for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church of the Catholic Church. The Syro-Malankara Church observes the Antiochian Rite in the Syriac language.
Aboon Thomas Mar Eusebius is serving as the first bishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy in the United States. He was serving as the first exarch of the Malankara Syrian Catholic Exarchate since his enthronement on October 3, 2010. On August 5, 2017, Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, the Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Malankara Catholic Church, announced that Eusebius would be the first Bishop of the new Malankara Diocese of Parassala, India.
The St. Thomas the Apostle Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Melbourne is an eparchy of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church sui iuris in Australia. The eparchy, established in 2014, is the second eparchy of the Syro-Malabar Church outside India, after the Eparchy of Chicago, and it has jurisdiction over Syro-Malabar Catholics in the entirety of Australia.
The Armenian Catholic Eparchy of San Gregorio de Narek en Buenos Aires in an eparchy of the Armenian Catholic Church for Argentina.
The Maronite Catholic Eparchy of the Annunciation is an Eparchy of the Maronite Church immediately subject to the Holy See located in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. Its current ordinary is Eparch Simon Faddoul.
The Marthoma Nasrani Eparchy of Great Britain is the sole eparchy for Syro-Malabar Catholics in Great Britain, with see in Preston, Lancashire.