Dean (Christianity)

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A dean, in an ecclesiastical context, is a cleric holding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy. The title is used mainly in the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, and many Lutheran denominations. A dean's assistant is called a sub-dean.

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History

Latin decanus in the Roman military was the head of a group of ten soldiers within a centuria , and by the 5th century CE, it was the head of a group of ten monks. It came to refer to various civil functionaries in the later Roman Empire. [1]

Based on the monastic use, it came to mean the head of a chapter of canons of a collegiate church or cathedral church. [1]

Based on that use, deans in universities now fill various administrative positions.

Latin decanus should not be confused with Greek diákonos (διάκονος), [2] ' from which the word deacon derives, which describes a supportive role.

Officials

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Cardinal Vice-Dean are the president and vice-president of the college. Both are elected. Except for presiding and delegating administrative tasks, they have no authority over the cardinals, acting as primus inter pares (first among equals).

In the universities that grew out of the cathedral and monastery schools, a university dean came to be an official with various administrative duties.

Anglican Communion

Cathedrals

In the Church of England and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, the dean is the chief resident cleric of a cathedral or other collegiate church and the head of the chapter of canons. If the cathedral or collegiate church has its own parish, the dean is usually also rector of the parish. However, in the Church of Ireland the roles are often separated, and most cathedrals in the Church of England do not have associated parishes. In the Church in Wales, however, most cathedrals are parish churches, and their deans are now also vicars of their parishes. In some parts of the Communion (particularly in the Scottish Episcopal Church and, formerly in some cathedrals in England), the senior resident cleric in a cathedral is a provost. Each diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church has a dean of the diocese: this is a cleric who, rather than heading the cathedral staff, assists the bishop in the administration of the diocese. In this way, a Scottish Episcopal dean is similar to an archdeacon in the other member churches of the Communion (a post that does not exist in the Scottish church). In the Anglican Church of Canada, the roles of senior cleric of the cathedral are combined in one person who is referred to as "Rector of Cathedral and Dean of Diocese". Thus, Peter Elliott is Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of New Westminster.

The style The Very Reverend distinguishes a cleric as a dean (or a cathedral provost). For example, the Very Reverend June Osborne was Dean of Salisbury Cathedral. [3] The legal act by which a cathedral dean in the Church of England takes up his or her role is the institution, which is invariably followed in the same service by the installation (into his/her stall in the cathedral church); an "institution and installation" are very often referred to simply as an installation. In consideration of the high status of a Dean, the Very Reverend title is normally a permanent title preferment.

Some important deans include the deans of St Paul's, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a royal peculiar, not the seat of any bishop or a cathedral, but is led by a dean. The deans of Washington National Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin are likewise important clerics in their churches.

Rural or area deaneries

In many parts of the Anglican Communion, parishes are grouped together to form deaneries, each being a constituent administrative district of the diocese. Usually, a deanery is led by one of the incumbents of the deanery's parishes, who is called a rural dean, but in more urban areas this has often been replaced by the title area dean or regional dean. Such a dean chairs the meeting of the deanery's clergy (which, like a cathedral, is called a chapter), and may also chair a deanery synod. Rural deans (and those known by alternative titles) rank as primi inter pares of their chapters, and do not have the seniority of cathedral or diocesan deans.

Other uses

The head of an Anglican theological college or seminary may also be called a dean (in common with its use in education).

Catholic Church

The title "dean" is conferred upon a pastor of a parish who serves as a senior figure, though usually without specific jurisdictional authority, over a section of a diocese. [4] These are sometimes referred to as "rural deans", and are expected to show a degree of leadership among the pastors of the region, known as a deanery. This function is sometimes titled "vicar forane" (forane is Latin for "in a foreign land"). An episcopal vicar serves a similar function, but has more formal authority and specific powers under canon law.

In recent years, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has introduced the custom of designating cathedral deans, formerly known as cathedral administrators. However, the term differs slightly from the Anglican usage as Catholic deans do not necessarily preside over the cathedral chapter (this function belonging to the office of Provost), and are not necessarily required even to be a member of the chapter. More commonly, in places throughout the world where a cathedral chapter has not been erected (as for instance, in the United States, where there are no chapters at all), the term rector is used for the priest who serves as chief administrator of a cathedral church.

Another important use of the term within the Catholic Church is in the office of the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who serves as senior member of that body.[ citation needed ] The current dean is Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, approved on 18 January 2020.

Lutheran Church

Within the Lutheran tradition, particularly in the Nordic and Baltic tradition of evangelical episcopal Lutheranism, senior clergy bear the title 'Dean'. Each diocese usually has a cathedral Dean, in charge of the cathedral church, and a series of area deans to supervise the clergy in a given geographical area. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, there are also deans in charge of leading the administrative work and personnel of the Chapters. [5]

United Methodism

United Methodists often speak of a "dean" in terms of the dean of the cabinet. Every annual conference has a bishop's cabinet made up of the district superintendents under the bishop's appointment, as well as occasionally a few other conference officials. One of these superintendents is chosen by his or her colleagues to serve as the dean, usually for one year. This dean then has certain administrative and leadership responsibilities, and is accountable to the bishop.

See also

Related Research Articles

A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest, often termed a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor. Its association with the parish church remains paramount.

Cathedral Christian church that is the seat of a bishop

A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and some Lutheran churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul, Spain, and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures, and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches, and episcopal residences.

Church of Sweden

The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden. A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, with 5.8 million members at year end 2019, it is the largest Christian denomination in Sweden, the largest Lutheran denomination in Europe and the third-largest in the world, after the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.

Synod Council of a church, convened to resolve issues of doctrine or administration

A synod is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word synod comes from the Greek: σύνοδος [ˈsinoðos] meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the Latin word concilium meaning "council". Originally, synods were meetings of bishops, and the word is still used in that sense in Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not. It is also sometimes used to refer to a church that is governed by a synod.

The Reverend Christian religious title

The Reverend is an honorific style most often placed before the names of Christian clergy and ministers. There are sometimes differences in the way the style is used in different countries and church traditions. The Reverend is correctly called a style but is often and in some dictionaries called a title, form of address or title of respect. The style is also sometimes used by leaders in non-Christian religions, such as Judaism.

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".

Archdeacon

An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, St Thomas Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Catholic Church. An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within an archdeaconry, which is the principal subdivision of the diocese. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has defined an archdeacon as "A cleric having a defined administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole or part of the diocese." The office has often been described metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the "bishop's eye".

Canon (priest) Ecclesiastical position

A canon is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.

A vicar general is the principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese for the exercise of administrative authority and possesses the title of local ordinary. As vicar of the bishop, the vicar general exercises the bishop's ordinary executive power over the entire diocese and, thus, is the highest official in a diocese or other particular church after the diocesan bishop or his equivalent in canon law. The title normally occurs only in Western Christian churches, such as the Latin Church of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Among the Eastern churches, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Kerala uses this title and remains an exception. The title for the equivalent officer in the Eastern churches is syncellus and protosyncellus.

The ecclesiastical title of archpriest or archpresbyter belongs to certain priests with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches and may be somewhat analogous to a monsignor in the Latin Church, but in the Eastern churches an archpriest wears an additional vestment and, typically, a pectoral cross, and becomes an archpriest via a liturgical ceremony.

A provost is a senior official in a number of Christian Churches.

Diocese of Chester Diocese of the Church of England

The Diocese of Chester is a Church of England diocese in the Province of York covering the pre-1974 county of Cheshire and therefore including the Wirral and parts of Stockport, Trafford and Tameside.

Rural dean Clerical title in some Christian churches

In the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as well as some Lutheran denominations, a rural dean is a member of clergy who presides over a "rural deanery" ; "ruridecanal" is the corresponding adjective. In some Church of England dioceses rural deans have been formally renamed as area deans.

Deanery

A deanery is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the Church of Norway. A deanery is either the jurisdiction or residence of a dean.

The Very Reverend is a style given to members of the clergy. The definite article "The" should always precede "Reverend" as "Reverend" is a style or fashion and not a title.

Anglican ministry

The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.

According to both Catholic and Anglican canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics (chapter) formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese during the vacancy. In the Roman Catholic Church their creation is the purview of the pope. They can be "numbered", in which case they are provided with a fixed "prebend", or "unnumbered", in which case the bishop indicates the number of canons according to the rents. These chapters are made up of canons and other officers, while in the Church of England chapters now include a number of lay appointees. In some Church of England cathedrals there are two such bodies, the lesser and greater chapters, which have different functions. The smaller body usually consists of the residentiary members and is included in the larger one.

Order of precedence in the Catholic Church

Precedence signifies the right to enjoy a prerogative of honor before other persons; for example, to have the most distinguished place in a procession, a ceremony, or an assembly, to have the right to express an opinion, cast a vote, or append a signature before others, to perform the most honorable offices.

Edward Lowry Henderson was a priest in the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church in the first half of the 20th century.

A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader.

References

  1. 1 2 Oxford English Dictionary s.v.
  2. "deacon". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Bartleby. 2000. Archived from the original on 2009-01-25. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  3. "Q & A with The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury Cathedral". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  4. "Dean". Catholic Encyclopedia . Retrieved 2007-02-17.
  5. See for example the structure of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia here.