An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority, (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally private). An elected official is a person who is an official by virtue of an election. Officials may also be appointed ex officio (by virtue of another office, often in a specified capacity, such as presiding, advisory, secretary). Some official positions may be inherited. A person who currently holds an office is referred to as an incumbent.
The word official as a noun has been recorded since the Middle English period, first seen in 1314.It comes from the Old French official (12th century), from the Latin officialis ("attendant to a magistrate, government official"), the noun use of the original adjective officialis ("of or belonging to duty, service, or office") from officium ("office"). The meaning "person in charge of some public work or duty" was first recorded in 1555. The adjective is first attested in English in 1533 via the Old French oficial. The informal term officialese, the jargon of "officialdom", was first recorded in 1884.
An officialis (plural officiales) was the official term (somewhat comparable to a modern civil servant) for any member of the officium (staff) of a high dignitary such as a governor.
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In Canon law, the word or its Latin original officialis is used absolutely as the legal title of a diocesan bishop's judicial vicar who shares the bishop's ordinary judicial power over the diocese and presides over the diocesan ecclesiastical court.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law gives precedence to the title Judicial Vicar, rather than that of Officialis (canon 1420). The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches uses only the title Judicial Vicar (canon 191).
In German, the related noun Offizialat was also used for an official bureau in a diocese that did much of its administration, comprising the vicariate-general, an adjoined secretariat, a registry office and a chancery.
In Catholicism, the vicar-general was originally called the "official" (officialis).
The title of official principal, together with that of vicar-general, has in Anglicanism been merged in that of Diocesan chancellor of a diocese.
In sports, the term official is used to describe a person enforcing playing rules in the capacity of a linesman, referee and umpire; also specified by the discipline, e.g. American football official, ice hockey official. An official competition is created or recognized as valid by the competent body, is agreed to or arranged by people in positions of authority.Is synonymous, among others, with approved, certified, recognized, endorsed, legitimate.
The term officer is close to being a synonym (but has more military connotations). A functionary is someone who carries out a particular role within an organization; this again is quite a close synonym for official, as a noun, but with connotations closer to bureaucrat. Any such person acts in their official capacity, in carrying out the duties of their office; they are also said to officiate, for example in a ceremony. A public official is an official of central or local government.
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Max Weber gave as definition of a bureaucratic official:
An official must exercise their judgment and their skills, but their duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority; ultimately they are responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice their personal judgment if it runs counter to their official duties.
As an adjective, "official" often, but not always, means pertaining to the government, as state employee or having state recognition, or analogous to governance or to a formal (especially legally regulated) proceeding as opposed to informal business. In summary that has authenticity emanates from an authority. Some examples:
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".
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure (cura) of souls of a parish. In this sense, "curate" correctly means a parish priest; but in English-speaking countries the term curate is commonly used to describe clergy who are assistants to the parish priest. The duties or office of a curate are called a curacy.
Chancellor is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the audience. A chancellor's office is called a chancellery or chancery. The word is now used in the titles of many various officers in various settings. Nowadays the term is most often used to describe:
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.
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Syriac Orthodox Church, Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic 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".
An ordinary is an officer of a church or civic authority who by reason of office has ordinary power to execute laws.
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Catholic, Anglican, and (historically) Eastern Orthodox churches whose main role is to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese. The coadjutor is a bishop himself, although he is also appointed as vicar general. The coadjutor bishop is, however, given authority beyond that ordinarily given to the vicar general, making him co-head of the diocese in all but ceremonial precedence. In modern times, the coadjutor automatically succeeds the diocesan bishop upon the latter's retirement, removal, or death.
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 hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
A dean, in a church 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 subdean.
A diocesan chancery is the branch of administration which handles all written documents used in the official government of a Catholic or Anglican diocese.
A Surrogate, is the deputy of a bishop or an ecclesiastical judge, acting in the absence of his principal and strictly bound by the authority of the latter. It is particularly common as a term for clergy deputising for the diocesan judge in dioceses of the Church of England.
Chancellor is an ecclesiastical title used by several quite distinct officials of some Christian churches.
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.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a judicial vicar or episcopal official is an officer of the diocese who has ordinary power to judge cases in the diocesan ecclesiastical court. Although the diocesan bishop can reserve certain cases to himself, the judicial vicar and the diocesan bishop are a single tribunal, which means that decisions of the judicial vicar cannot be appealed to the diocesan bishop but must instead be appealed to the appellate tribunal. The judicial vicar ought to be someone other than the vicar general, unless the smallness of the diocese or the limited number of cases suggest otherwise. Other judges, who may be priests, deacons, religious brothers or sisters or nuns, or laypersons, and who must have knowledge of canon law and be Catholics in good standing, assist the judicial vicar either by deciding cases on a single judge basis or by forming with him a panel over which he or one of them presides. A judicial vicar may also be assisted by adjutant judicial vicars. The judicial vicar is assisted by at least one, if not more, individuals with the title defender of the bond, they are normally priests, but do not have to be. On staff will also be notaries and secretaries, who may be priests, religious brothers or sisters or nuns, or laypersons.
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, sanctifying the world and representing the Church. Catholics trace the origins of the office of bishop to the apostles, who it is believed were endowed with a special charism by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Catholics believe this special charism has been transmitted through an unbroken succession of bishops by the laying on of hands in the sacrament of holy orders.
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.
A moderator of the curia, under the authority of the bishop of a diocese in the Catholic Church, coordinates the exercise of the administrative duties and oversees those who hold offices and minister in diocesan administration. He must be a priest. The office has been variously described as equivalent to a chief operating officer (COO). Although the office was first included in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the concept is much older.
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.
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