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A vicar ( // ; Latin: vicarius ) is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior (compare "vicarious" in the sense of "at second hand"). 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, such as an archduke, could be styled "vicar".
The Pope bears the title vicar of Christ (Latin: Vicarius Christi).
In Catholic canon law, a vicar is the representative of any ecclesiastic entity. The Romans had used the term to describe officials subordinate to the praetorian prefects. In the early Christian churches, bishops likewise had their vicars, such as the archdeacons and archpriests, and also the rural priest, the curate who had the cure or care of all the souls outside the episcopal cities. The position of the Roman Catholic vicar as it evolved is sketched in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908).
Vicars have various titles based on what role they are performing. An apostolic vicar is a bishop or priest who heads a missionary particular Church that is not yet ready to be a full diocese – he stands as the local representative of the Pope, in the Pope's role as bishop of all unorganized territories. A vicar capitular, who exercises authority in the place of the diocesan chapter, is a temporary ordinary of a diocese during a sede vacante period.
Vicars exercise authority as the agents of the bishop of the diocese. Most vicars, however, have ordinary power, which means that their agency is not by virtue of a delegation but is established by law. Vicars general, episcopal vicars, and judicial vicars exercise vicarious ordinary power; they each exercise a portion of the power of the diocesan bishop (judicial for the judicial vicar, executive for the others) by virtue of their office and not by virtue of a mandate.
A vicar forane , also known as an archpriest or dean, is a priest entrusted by the bishop with a certain degree of leadership in a territorial division of a diocese or a pastoral region known as a vicarate forane or a deanery.
A parochial vicar is a priest assigned to a parish in addition to, and in collaboration with, the parish priest or rector. He exercises his ministry as an agent of the parish's pastor, who is termed parochus in Latin. Some papal legates are given the title Vicar of the Apostolic See.
A vicar can be the priest of a "chapel of ease", a building within the parish which is not the parish church. Non-resident canons led also to the institution of vicars choral, each canon having his own vicar, who sat in his stall in his absence (see Cathedral).
In Opus Dei, a regional vicar is a priest designated to fulfil responsibilities for an entire country or region, such as France or the United States.
In the Russian Orthodox Church and some other non-Hellenic Eastern Orthodox churches that historically follow Russian tradition, vicar (Russian: vikariy / викарий) is a term for what is known as suffragan bishop in the Anglican Communion or as auxiliary bishop in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church. A vicar bishop usually bears in his title the names of both his titular see (usually, a smaller town within the diocese he ministers in) and the see he is subordinate to. For example, Ignaty Punin, the vicar bishop under the Diocese of Smolensk, is titled "The Right Reverend Ignaty, the bishop of Vyazma, the vicar of the Diocese of Smolensk", Vyasma being a smaller town inside the territory of the Diocese of Smolensk. Normally, only large dioceses have vicar bishops, sometimes more than one. Usually, Russian Orthodox vicar bishops have no independent jurisdiction (even in their titular towns) and are subordinate to their diocesan bishops; though some of them de facto may have jurisdiction over some territories, especially when there is a need to avoid an overlapping jurisdiction.
In some other Eastern Orthodox churches the term "chorbishop" is used instead of "vicar bishop".
In Anglicanism, a vicar is a type of parish priest. Historically, parish priests in the Church of England were divided into vicars, rectors , and perpetual curates . The parish clergy and church were supported by tithes—like a local tax (traditionally, as the etymology of tithe suggests, of ten percent) levied on the personal as well as agricultural output of the parish. Roughly speaking, the distinction was that a rector directly received both the greater and lesser tithes of his parish while a vicar received only the lesser tithes (the greater tithes going to the lay holder, or impropriator , of the living); a perpetual curate with a small cure and often aged or infirm received neither greater nor lesser tithes, and received only a small salary (paid sometimes by the diocese). (See also in Church of England.) Today, the roles of a rector and a vicar are essentially the same. Which of the two titles is held by the parish priest is historical. Some parishes have a rector, others a vicar.
In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the positions of "vicar" and "curate" are not recognized in the canons of the entire 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.
A vicarage, or vicarage house, is a residence provided by the church for the priest. They were usually located near the church and were sometimes quite elaborate and other times inadequate. Dating from medieval times, they were often rebuilt and modernized. In the second half of the 20th century, most large vicarages were replaced with more modern and simpler houses.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Lutheran Church–Canada, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a vicar is a candidate for ordained pastoral ministry, serving in a vicariate or internship, usually in the third year of seminary training, though it can be delayed to the fourth year (this is often referred to as "a vicarage", a homonym of the residence of the Vicar). Typically at the end of the year of vicarage, the candidate returns to seminary and completes a final year of studies. After being issued a call or assignment, the candidate is ordained as a pastor in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. The role of a vicar in the Lutheran tradition is most comparable to that of a transitional deacon in the Anglican and Roman churches, except that Lutheran vicars are not ordained. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa, a vicar is a person who has completed seminary training and is awaiting ordination while serving at a parish where the Diocesan Council places him or her.
The title Vikar, used in the Lutheran churches in Germany, is comparable while the Lutheran Church of Sweden calls it kyrkoherde ("church shepherd"), although that title is more comparable to a rector.
Oliver Goldsmith's novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) and Honoré de Balzac's The Curate of Tours (Le Curé de Tours; 1832) evoke the impoverished world of the 18th- and 19th-century vicar. Anthony Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire are peopled with churchmen of varying situations, from wealthy to impoverished; the income differences prompted a digression in Framley Parsonage (chapter 14) on the incomprehensible logic that made one vicar rich and another poor. The 18th-century satirical ballad "The Vicar of Bray" reveals the changes of conscience a vicar (whether of the Bray in Berkshire or of that in County Wicklow) might undergo in order to retain his meagre post, between the 1680s and 1720s. "The Curate of Ars" (usually in French: Le Curé d'Ars) is a style often used to refer to Saint Jean Vianney, a French parish priest canonized on account of his piety and simplicity of life.
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.
A synod is a council of a Christian denomination, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word synod comes from the Ancient Greek σύνοδος 'assembly, meeting'; the term is analogous with the Latin word concilium'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.
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense, curate 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.
A titular bishop in various churches is a bishop who is not in charge of a diocese. By definition, a bishop is an "overseer" of a community of the faithful, so when a priest is ordained a bishop, the tradition of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches is that he be ordained for a specific place. There are more bishops than there are functioning dioceses. Therefore, a priest appointed not to head a diocese as its diocesan bishop but to be an auxiliary bishop, a papal diplomat, or an official of the Roman Curia is appointed to a titular see.
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 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, vicar forane or dean 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.
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 Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and many Lutheran denominations. A dean's assistant is called a sub-dean.
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.
A provost is a senior official in a number of 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.
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 an honorific style given to higher-ranking members of a clergy. The definite article "the" should always precede "Reverend" when used before a name, because "Reverend" is an honorific adjective, 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 into a single new one.
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 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."
Vicar is a title given to certain parish priests in the Church of England and other Anglican churches. 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. Historically, but no longer, vicars share a benefice with a rector to whom the great tithes were paid. Vicar derives from the Latin vicarius meaning a substitute.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church. Some terms used in everyday English have a different meaning in the context of the Catholic faith, including brother, confession, confirmation, exemption, faithful, father, ordinary, religious, sister, venerable, and vow.
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.