Rector (ecclesiastical)

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A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. [1] [2] In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader. [3] [4]

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Ancient usage

In ancient times bishops, as rulers of cities and provinces, especially in the Papal States, were called rectors, as were administrators of the patrimony of the Church (e.g. rector Siciliae ). [5] The Latin term rector was used by Pope Gregory I in Regula Pastoralis as equivalent to the Latin term pastor (shepherd). [5]

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church, a rector is a person who holds the office of presiding over an ecclesiastical institution. The institution may be a particular buildingsuch as a church (called his rectory church) or shrine or it may be an organization, such as a parish, a mission or quasi-parish, a seminary or house of studies, a university, a hospital, or a community of clerics or religious.

If a rector appointed as his employee someone to perform the duties of his office, i.e. to act for him "vicariously", that employee was termed his vicar. Thus, the tithes of a parish are the legal property of the person who holds the office of rector. They are not the property of his vicar, who is not an office-holder but an employee, remunerated by a stipend, i.e. a salary, payable by his employer the rector. A parish vicar is the agent of his rector, whilst, higher up the scale, the Pope is called the Vicar of Christ, acting vicariously for the ultimate superior in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law, for the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, explicitly mentions as special cases three offices of rectors:

However, these are not the only officials who exercise their functions using the title of rector. Since the term rector refers to the function of the particular office, a number of officials are not referred to as rectors even though they are rectors in actual practice. The diocesan bishop, for instance, is himself a rector, since he presides over both an ecclesiastical organization (the diocese) and an ecclesiastical building (his cathedral). In many dioceses, the bishop delegates the day-to-day operation of the cathedral to a priest, who is often incorrectly called a rector but whose specific title is plebanus or "people's pastor", especially if the cathedral operates as a parish church. Therefore, because a priest is designated head of a cathedral parish, he cannot be both rector and pastor, as a rector cannot canonically hold title over a parish (c.556).

As a further example, the pastor of a parish ( parochus ) is pastor (not rector) over both his parish and the parish church. Finally, a president of a Catholic university is rector over the university and, if a priest, often the rector of any church that the university may operate, on the basis that it is not a canonical establishment of a parish (c. 557 §3).

In some religious congregations of priests, rector is the title of the local superior of a house or community of the order. For instance, a community of several dozen Jesuit priests might include the pastor and priests assigned to a parish church next door, the faculty of a Jesuit high school across the street, and the priests in an administrative office down the block. However, the community as a local installation of Jesuit priests is headed by a rector.

Rector general is the title given to the superior general of certain religious orders, e.g. the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God, Pallottines.

There are some other uses of this title, such as for residence hall directors, such as Father George Rozum CSC, at the University of Notre Dame which were once (and to some extent still are) run in a seminary-like fashion. This title is used similarly at the University of Portland, another institution of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

The Pope is called "rector of the world" during the discontinued papal coronation ceremony that was once part of the papal inauguration. [5] [lower-alpha 1]

Permanent rector is an obsolete term used in the United States prior to the codification of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Canon Law grants a type of tenure to pastors (parochus) of parishes, giving them certain rights against arbitrary removal by the bishop of their diocese. [5] In order to preserve their flexibility and authority in assigning priests to parishes, bishops in the United States until that time did not actually appoint priests as pastors, but as "permanent rectors" of their parishes: the "permanent" gave the priest a degree of confidence in the security in his assignment, but the "rector" rather than "pastor" preserved the bishop's absolute authority to reassign clergy. Hence, many older parishes list among their early leaders priests with the postnominal letters "P.R." (as in, a plaque listing all of the pastors of a parish, with "Rev. John Smith, P.R."). This practice was discontinued and today priests are normally assigned as pastors of parishes, and bishops in practice reassign them at will (though there are still questions about the canonical legality of this).

Anglican churches

In Anglican churches, a rector is a type of parish priest.

Historical use

Historically, parish priests in the Church of England consisted of rectors, vicars, and perpetual curates. Parish churches and their incumbent clergy were supported by tithes, a form of local tax levied on the personal as well as agricultural output of the parish. A rector received direct payment of both the greater and lesser tithes of his parish, whilst a vicar received only the lesser tithes (the greater tithes going to the lay holder, or impropriator, of the living). A perpetual curate held the Cure of souls in an area which had not yet been formally or legally constituted as a parish, and received neither greater nor lesser tithes, but only a small stipend in return for his duties. Perpetual curates tended to have a lower social status, and were often quite poorly remunerated.

Quite commonly, parishes that had a rector as priest also had glebe lands attached to the parish. The rector was then responsible for the repair of the chancel of his church—the part dedicated to the sacred offices—while the rest of the building was the responsibility of the parish. This rectorial responsibility persists, in perpetuity, with the occupiers of the original rectorial land where it has been sold. This is called chancel repair liability, and affects institutional, corporate and private owners of land once owned by around 5,200 churches in England and Wales. [6] (See also Church of England structure.)

Contemporary English use

The traditional titles of rector and vicar continue in English use today, although the roles and the conditions of employment of the two titles are now essentially the same. Which of the titles is held by the parish priest is largely historical, some parishes having a rector and others a vicar. Owing to the origins of the terms, parishes with a rector are often of more notable historical importance or prominence than parishes with a vicar.

The title of perpetual curate was abolished in 1968. However, "Priest-in-charge" is now a common third form of title in the contemporary Church of England, and is applied to the parish priest of a parish in which presentation to the living has been suspended—a process by which the bishop takes temporary responsibility for the appointment of the parish priest, regardless of who holds the legal rights of patronage in that parish.

From the middle of the twentieth century the Church of England has developed team ministries, in which several priests work in a team to run a group of parishes and churches. In such a team arrangement, the senior priest holds the title "Team Rector", whilst other incumbent priests in the team are entitled "Team Vicar".

In the Deanery of Jersey, which is part of the Church of England, a rector is appointed to one of the island's twelve historic parishes and as such has a role in the civil parish administration alongside the Constable; the parish also takes full responsibility (through levy of rates) for maintaining the church. Vicars are appointed to district churches, have no civil administrative roles by right, and their churches' upkeep is resourced by the members of the congregation.

Contemporary use in other nations

In the Church of Ireland, Scottish Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, most parish priests are called rectors, not vicars. However, in some dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada rectors are officially licensed as incumbents to express the diocesan polity of employment of clergy.

In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the "rector" is the priest elected to head a self-supporting parish. A priest who is appointed by the bishop to head a parish in the absence of a rector is termed a "priest-in-charge", as is a priest leading a mission (that is, a congregation which is not self-supporting). "Associate priests" are priests hired by the parish to supplement the rector in his or her duties while "assistant priests" are priests resident in the congregation who help on a volunteer basis. The positions of "vicar" and "curate" are not recognized in the canons of the national church. However, some diocesan canons do define "vicar" as the priest-in-charge of a mission; and "curate" is often used for assistants, being entirely analogous to the English situation. [7]

In schools affiliated with the Anglican church the title "rector" is sometimes used in secondary schools and boarding schools, where the headmaster is often a priest.

See also

Notes

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.

The Reverend Christian religious style

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 and Buddhism.

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".

Curate Religious occupation

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.

Minister (Christianity) Religious occupation in Christianity

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorised by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister.

Archdeacon Senior clergy position

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.

Hierarchy of the Catholic Church Organization of the Catholic Church

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 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.

Parson Ordained Christian person responsible for a small area, typically a parish

A parson is an ordained Christian person responsible for a small area, typically a parish. The term was formerly often used for some Anglican clergy and, more rarely, for ordained ministers in some other churches. It is no longer a formal term denoting a specific position within Anglicanism, but has some continued historical and colloquial use.

In Christianity, the term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or otherwise members of religious life. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits themselves to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.

Deanery Religious organization

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.

In English ecclesiastical law, the term incumbent refers to the holder of a Church of England parochial charge or benefice. The term "benefice" originally denoted a grant of land for life in return for services. In church law, the duties were spiritual ("spiritualities") and some form of assets to generate revenue were permanently linked to the duties to ensure the support of the office holder. Historically, once in possession of the benefice, the holder had lifelong tenure unless he failed to provide the required minimum of spiritual services or committed a moral offence. With the passing of the "Pastoral Measure 1968" and subsequent legislation, this no longer applies, and many ancient benefices have been joined together into a single new one.

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.

Perpetual curate

Perpetual curate was a class of resident parish priest or incumbent curate within the United Church of England and Ireland. The term is found in common use mainly during the first half of the 19th century. The legal status of perpetual curate originated as an administrative anomaly in the 16th century. Unlike ancient rectories and vicarages, perpetual curacies were supported by a cash stipend, usually maintained by an endowment fund, and had no ancient right to income from tithe or glebe.

In the Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the lowest ecclesiastical subdivision in the Catholic episcopal polity, and the primary constituent unit of a diocese or eparchy. Parishes are extant in both the Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, parishes are constituted under cc. 515–552, entitled "Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars."

Trusteeism and the trustee system are practices and institutions within certain parishes of the Catholic Church in the United States, under which laypersons participate in the administration of Ecclesiastical Property. When laypersons are among the trustees, the Church seeks agreement with the civil authorities to have the property administered under principles of canon law.

Vicar (Anglicanism) Title in the Church of England

Vicar is the title given to certain parish priests in the Church of England. It has played a significant role in Anglican Church organisation in ways that are different from other Christian denominations. The title is very old and arises from the medieval arrangement where priests were appointed either by a secular lord, by a bishop or by a religious foundation. Wherever there is a vicar he shares the benefice with a rector to whom the great tithes were paid. Vicar derives from the Latin "vicarius" meaning a substitute.

Ivor Gordon Davies was an Anglican priest who was the Archdeacon of Lewisham between 1972 and 1985.

References

  1. Wiktionary-logo-en-v2.svg The dictionary definition of rector at Wiktionary
  2. "rector, n." . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. Wiktionary-logo-en-v2.svg The dictionary definition of vicar at Wiktionary
  4. "vicar, n." . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  5. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Meehan, Andrew (1911). "Rector". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  6. "Chancel repair liabilities in England and Wales". The National Archives. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  7. Canons of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, III.9.3