Diocese

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Stained glass window of the cathedral of Honolulu depicting Pope Pius XI (left) blessing Bishop Stephen Alencastre as fifth Apostolic Vicar of the Hawaiian Islands Alencastre Window.jpg
Stained glass window of the cathedral of Honolulu depicting Pope Pius XI (left) blessing Bishop Stephen Alencastre as fifth Apostolic Vicar of the Hawaiian Islands

In church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. [1]

Contents

History

Dioceses of the Roman Empire, 400 AD Roman Empire with dioceses in 400 AD.png
Dioceses of the Roman Empire, 400 AD

In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided provinces were administratively associated in a larger unit, the diocese (Latin dioecesis, from the Greek term διοίκησις, meaning "administration").

After Christianity was given legal status in 313, the Churches began to organize themselves into dioceses based on provinces, not on the larger regional imperial districts. The dioceses were often smaller than the provinces since there were more bishops than governors. Christianity was declared the Empire's official religion by Theodosius I in 380. Constantine I in 318 gave litigants the right to have court cases transferred from the civil courts to the bishops. This situation must have hardly survived Julian, 361-363. Episcopal courts are not heard of again in the East until 398 and in the West in 408. The quality of these courts were low, and not above suspicion as the bishop of Alexandria Troas found out that clergy were making a corrupt profit. Nonetheless, these courts were popular as people could get quick justice without being charged fees. [2] Bishops had no part in the civil administration until the town councils, in decline, lost much authority to a group of 'notables' made up of the richest councilors, powerful and rich persons legally exempted from serving on the councils, retired military, and bishops post-450 AD. As the Western Empire collapsed in the 5th century, bishops in Western Europe assumed a larger part of the role of the former Roman governors. A similar, though less pronounced, development occurred in the East, where the Roman administrative apparatus was largely retained by the Byzantine Empire. In modern times, many dioceses, though later subdivided, have preserved the boundaries of a long-vanished Roman administrative division. For Gaul, Bruce Eagles has observed that "it has long been an academic commonplace in France that the medieval dioceses, and their constituent pagi , were the direct territorial successors of the Roman civitates ." [3]

Modern usage of 'diocese' tends to refer to the sphere of a bishop's jurisdiction. This became commonplace during the self-conscious "classicizing" structural evolution of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, but this usage had itself been evolving from the much earlier parochia ("parish"; Late Latin derived from the Greek παροικία paroikia), dating from the increasingly formalized Christian authority structure in the 4th century. [4]

Archdiocese

Dioceses ruled by an archbishop are commonly referred to as archdioceses; most are metropolitan sees, being placed at the head of an ecclesiastical province. A few are suffragans of a metropolitan see or are directly subject to the Holy See.

The term 'archdiocese' is not found in Canon Law, with the terms "diocese" and "episcopal see" being applicable to the area under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any bishop. [5] If the title of archbishop is granted on personal grounds to a diocesan bishop, his diocese does not thereby become an archdiocese.

Catholic Church

As of January 2019, in the Catholic Church there are 2,886 regular dioceses: 1 papal see, 645 archdioceses (including 9 patriarchates, 4 major archdioceses, 555 metropolitan archdioceses, 77 single archdioceses) and 2,240 dioceses in the world.[ citation needed ]

Coat of arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas Coat Of Arms Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.svg
Coat of arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas

In the Eastern rites in communion with the Pope, the equivalent unit is called an eparchy .[ citation needed ]

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church calls dioceses episkopies (from the Greek ἐπισκοπή) in the Greek tradition and eparchies (from ἐπαρχία) in the Slavic tradition.[ citation needed ]

Church of England and Anglican Communion

St Patrick's Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Armagh in the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh - geograph.org.uk - 528966.jpg
St Patrick's Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Armagh in the Church of Ireland

After the English Reformation, the Church of England retained the existing diocesan structure which remains throughout the Anglican Communion. The one change is that the areas administered under the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York are properly referred to as dioceses, not archdioceses: they are the metropolitan bishops of their respective provinces and bishops of their own diocese and have the position of archbishop.

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Due to its unique three-tikanga (culture) system, New Zealand church's constitution uses the specific term "Episcopal Unit" for both dioceses and pīhopatanga. Pīhopatanga (bishoprics) are the tribal-based jurisdictions of Māori pīhopa (bishops) which overlap with the "New Zealand dioceses"; these function like dioceses, but are never called so. [6]

Lutheranism

Germany and Nordic countries

Certain Lutheran denominations such as the Church of Sweden do have individual dioceses similar to Roman Catholics. These dioceses and archdioceses are under the government of a bishop (see Archbishop of Uppsala). [7] Other Lutheran bodies and synods that have dioceses and bishops include the Church of Denmark, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Evangelical Church in Germany (partially), and the Church of Norway. [8]

Holy Roman Empire

From about the 13th century until the German mediatization of 1803, the majority of the bishops of the Holy Roman Empire were prince-bishops, and as such exercised political authority over a principality, their so-called Hochstift, which was distinct, and usually considerably smaller than their diocese, over which they only exercised the usual authority of a bishop.

Lutheranism in the United States

Some American Lutheran church bodies such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have a bishop acting as the head of the synod, [9] but the synod does not have dioceses and archdioceses as the churches listed above. Rather, it is divided into a middle judicatory. [10]

The Lutheran Church - International, based in Springfield, Illinois, presently uses a traditional diocesan structure, with four dioceses in North America. Its current president is Archbishop Robert W. Hotes. [11]

Church of God in Christ

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) has dioceses throughout the United States. In the COGIC, most states are divided into at least three or more dioceses that are each led by a bishop (sometimes called a "state bishop"); some states have as many as ten dioceses. These dioceses are called "jurisdictions" within COGIC. [12] [13]

Latter Day Saint movement

In the Latter Day Saint movement, the term "bishopric" is used to describe the bishop himself, together with his two counselors, not the ward or congregation of which a bishop has charge.

Churches that have bishops, but not dioceses

Methodism

In the United Methodist Church (the United States and some other countries), a bishop is given oversight over a geographical area called an episcopal area. Each episcopal area contains one or more annual conferences, which is how the churches and clergy under the bishop's supervision are organized. Thus, the use of the term "diocese" referring to geography is the most equivalent in the United Methodist Church, whereas each annual conference is part of one episcopal area (though that area may contain more than one conference). The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a similar structure to the United Methodist Church, also using the Episcopal Area. Note that the bishops govern the church as a single bench.[ citation needed ]

In the British Methodist Church and Irish Methodist Church, the closest equivalent to a diocese is the 'circuit'. Each local church belongs to a circuit, and the circuit is overseen by a superintendent minister who has pastoral charge of all the circuit churches (though in practice he or she delegates such charge to other presbyters who each care for a section of the circuit and chair the local church meetings as deputies of the superintendent). This echoes the practice of the early church where the bishop was supported by a bench of presbyters. Circuits are grouped together to form Districts. All of these, combined with the local membership of the Church, are referred to as the "Connexion". This 18th-century term, endorsed by John Wesley, describes how people serving in different geographical centres are 'connected' to each other. Personal oversight of the Methodist Church is exercised by the President of the Conference, a presbyter elected to serve for a year by the Methodist Conference; such oversight is shared with the Vice-President, who is always a deacon or layperson. Each District is headed by a 'Chair', a presbyter who oversees the district. Although the district is similar in size to a diocese, and Chairs meet regularly with their partner bishops, the Methodist superintendent is closer to the bishop in function than is the Chair. The purpose of the district is to resource the circuits; it has no function otherwise.[ citation needed ]

Churches that have neither bishops nor dioceses

Many churches worldwide have neither bishops nor dioceses. Most of these churches are descended from the Protestant Reformation and more specifically the Swiss Reformation.

Presbyterians

Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is governed by representative assemblies of elders.

Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland is governed solely through presbyteries, at parish and regional level, and therefore has no dioceses or bishops.

Congregationals

Congregational churches practice congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

Churches of Christ

Churches of Christ, being strictly non-denominational, are governed solely at the congregational level.

Baptists

Most Baptists hold that no church or ecclesiastical organization has inherent authority over a Baptist church. Churches can properly relate to each other under this polity only through voluntary cooperation, never by any sort of coercion. Furthermore, this Baptist polity calls for freedom from governmental control. [14] Most Baptists believe in "Two offices of the church"—pastor-elder and deacon—based on certain scriptures ( 1 Timothy 3:1–13 ; Titus 1–2 ).

Exceptions to this local form of local governance include a few churches that submit to the leadership of a body of elders, as well as the Episcopal Baptists that have an Episcopal system.[ citation needed ]

Continental Reformed churches

Continental Reformed churches are ruled by assemblies of "elders" or ordained officers. This is usually called Synodal government by the continental Reformed, but is essentially the same as presbyterian polity.

See also

Notes

    Related Research Articles

    A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

    Episcopal polity Hierarchical form of church governance

    An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. It is the structure used by many of the major Christian Churches and denominations, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Anglican, and Lutheran churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages.

    Holy orders sacraments of the Catholic Church

    In certain Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.

    Archbishop Bishop of higher rank in many Christian denominations

    In Christianity, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of England, the title is borne by the leader of the denomination. Like popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, cardinal bishops, diocesan bishops, and suffragan bishops, archbishops are in the highest of the three traditional orders of bishops, priests, and deacons. An archbishop may be granted the title or ordained as chief pastor of a metropolitan see or another episcopal see to which the title of archbishop is attached.

    Church of Sweden Evangelical-Lutheran denomination in Sweden

    The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden. A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, with 5.9 million members at year end 2018 it is the largest Christian denomination in Sweden.

    This is a directory of patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops across various Christian denominations. To find an individual who was a bishop, see the most relevant article linked below or Category:Bishops.

    Synod council of a church

    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 (sýnodos) meaning "assembly" or "meeting", and it is synonymous 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.

    An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages these courts had much wider powers in many areas of Europe than before the development of nation states. They were experts in interpreting canon law, a basis of which was the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian which is considered the source of the civil law legal tradition.

    Archbishopric of Magdeburg

    The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was a Roman Catholic archdiocese (969–1552) and Prince-Archbishopric (1180–1680) of the Holy Roman Empire centered on the city of Magdeburg on the Elbe River.

    Metropolitan bishop Ecclesiastical office

    In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.

    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.

    A presiding bishop is an ecclesiastical position in some denominations of Christianity.

    Roman Catholic Diocese of Magdeburg diocese of the Catholic Church

    The Diocese of Magdeburg is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church, located in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Its seat is Magdeburg; it is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Paderborn.

    Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Christian denomination

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is a Lutheran Protestant church in Latvia. Latvia's Lutheran heritage dates back to the Reformation. Both the Nazi and communist regimes persecuted the church harshly before religious freedom returned to Latvia in 1988. Unlike Estonia, where state atheism and the ongoing European secularization reduced the once 80% Lutheran majority to almost 10% by 2011, the Latvian Lutheran church had dropped to around 20% but has recovered slightly and now includes approximately 30% of the population.

    The Archdiocese of Turku, historically known as Archdiocese of Åbo, is the seat of the Archbishop of Turku. It is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and its see city is Turku. The Archbishop has many administrative tasks relating to the National church, and is the Metropolitan and Primate of the church. In common with other Lutheran and Anglican churches the Archbishop is considered primus inter pares while all diocesan bishops retain their independence within their respective jurisdictions. This also applies to the Bishop of Turku Archdiocese. The Archdiocese of Turku has a unique episcopal structure as there are two bishops in the Diocese.

    Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or of a Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of a church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity relates closely to ecclesiology, the study of doctrine and theology relating to church organization.

    Christianity in Sri Lanka

    Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka. Christianity was introduced to the island in first century, probably in AD 72. Traditionally, after Thomas the Apostle's visit in Kerala in AD 52, Christianity is said to have been introduced via India because of its close geographical and commercial ties. According to Christian traditions, the apostle Thomas preached the Gospel in Sri Lanka. Records suggest that St. Thomas Christians and Nestorian Christians lived in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura cross is one of the archaeological claims that suggest Christianity in Sri Lanka before Portuguese. Roman Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese in 1505. There were conversions by Dutch persons in the 17th century, which resulted in a percentage of church members in excess of 10%.

    Augustana Catholic Church church

    The Augustana Catholic Church (ACC), formerly the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (ALCC) and the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran (ECCL), is an American church in the Lutheran Evangelical Catholic tradition. The ACC says it is unique among Lutheran churches in that it is of both Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic heritage and has also been significantly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. The church was founded in 1997 by former members of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Its headquarters are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The ACC has long had a policy of seeking union with the Roman Catholic Church and announced in 2011 that it would accept the conditions of Anglicanorum coetibus and join the personal ordinariates as they are established. Later developments on limitations of joining the ordinariate caused the ACC to hold their offer while they established intercommunion with groups such as the Old Roman Catholic Church of North America. The church claims a membership in excess of 60,000 in 12 countries.

    References

    1. Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1989
    2. A. H. M. Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1964, p. 480-481 ISBN   0-8018-3285-3
    3. Eagles, Bruce (2004). "Britons and Saxons on the Eastern Boundary of the Civitas Durotrigum". Britannia. 35. p. 234., noting for instance Wightman, E.M. (1985). Gallia Belgica. London. p. 26.
    4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Diocese"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 279.
    5. Wikisource-logo.svg  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Archdiocese"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.
    6. p. 1
    7. Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum Archived 2005-02-07 at the Wayback Machine , online text in Latin; scholia 94.
    8. see List of Lutheran dioceses and archdioceses .
    9. Office of the Presiding Bishop on ELCA.org. Retrieved 2010-16-04.
    10. LERNing newsletter from July 2005 Archived 2009-12-16 at the Wayback Machine at ELCA.org. Retrieved 2010-16-04.
    11. International, Lutheran Church. "Welcome to Lutheran Church International". Lutheran Church International.
    12. "Board of Bishops". Church Of God In Christ. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
    13. "The Executive Branch". Church Of God In Christ. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
    14. Pinson, William M., Jr. "Trends in Baptist Polity". Baptist History and Heritage Society. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)