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A vicar general (previously, archdeacon) 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 term is used by many religious orders of men in a similar manner, designating the authority in the Order after its Superior General.
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In the Catholic Church, a diocesan bishop must appoint at least one vicar general for his diocese, but may appoint more—dioceses whose territory is split into different states usually have one each. The vicar general by virtue of office is the bishop's agent in administration, acting as second-in-command for diocesan executive matters. (A priest in a separate office, the judicial vicar, serves a similar role with regard to the exercise of ordinary judicial power of governance in the diocese which is normally exercised in ecclesiastical courts.) Vicars general must be priests, auxiliary bishops, or coadjutor bishops —if a coadjutor bishop exists for a diocese, the diocesan bishop is to appoint him as a vicar general. Other auxiliary bishops are usually appointed vicars general or at least episcopal vicars. A vicar general is a local ordinary and, as such, acquires his powers by virtue of office and not by delegation. He is to possess a doctorate or at least a licentiate in canon law (JCL, JCD) or theology (STL, STD) or be truly expert in these fields.
The similarly titled episcopal vicar shares in the bishop's ordinary executive power like the vicar general, except for the fact that the episcopal vicar's authority normally extends over only a particular geographic section of a diocese or over certain specific matters.These might include issues concerning religious institutes or the faithful of a different rite. These too must be priests or auxiliary bishops. The equivalent officer in the Eastern Churches is called the syncellus.
Priests appointed as vicars general or episcopal vicars are freely appointed or removed by the diocesan bishop, and are appointed for a fixed duration. They lose their office when the term expires, or when the episcopal see falls vacant.Auxiliary bishops may also be removed from the office of vicar general, but must at least be appointed episcopal vicar. An auxiliary bishop who is an episcopal vicar, or a coadjutor bishop who is vicar general, may only be removed from office for a grave reason. Likewise, while they lose their vicar general or episcopal vicar office title sede vacante, they retain the powers of the office—specifically, those powers that can still be exercised while the see is vacant—until the succeeding bishop takes over the diocese. A coadjutor bishop has the right of succession, so if the see falls vacant he becomes the diocesan bishop immediately. These offices should not be confused with the vicar forane or "dean/archpriest", as such vicars do not have ordinary executive power.
The appointment of a vicar general is also a useful tool for a diocesan bishop who has additional functions attached to his episcopate. The most notable example is in the diocese of Rome. The Pope is 'ex officio' the diocesan bishop of Rome, but spends most of his time governing the Latin Church and the global Catholic Church. His vicar general therefore functions as the de facto bishop of the diocese.The Vicar General of Rome also serves the same role for the suburbicarian diocese of Ostia, the traditional see of the Dean of the College of Cardinals, ever since it was merged with the diocese of Rome. The Vicar General of Rome, who is normally a cardinal, known as the Cardinal Vicar, is one of the few church officials in Rome to remain in office sede vacante. The current Vicar General of Rome is Cardinal Angelo De Donatis.
A similar example is found in the United States. The archbishop of New York functioned also as ordinary of the military services from World War I until the 1980s: in addition to being responsible for the archdiocese of New York, the same archbishop was also responsible for the Military Ordinariate. This had the status of an apostolic vicariate, and functioned as the equivalent of a diocese defined by quality (that is, all Catholic members of the U.S. military and their dependents) rather than by geography. The archbishop had two separate administrations, therefore, and two sets of vicars general to manage each. This arrangement ended with the establishment of the wholly separate Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
Vicars-General retain important administrative and judicial functions in the Church of England.
Following the Act of Supremacy of 1534, Henry VIII appointed Thomas Cromwell as his vicar general, a delegation of the powers with which Henry was invested by the Act as a result of becoming supreme head of the Church of England.
The seven suburbicarian dioceses are Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome, whose (titular) bishops are the ordinary members of the highest-ranking order of cardinals, the cardinal bishops.
A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop and, consequently, are not normally jurisdictional in their role. Suffragan bishops may be charged by a metropolitan to oversee a suffragan diocese. They may be assigned to an area which does not have a cathedral of its own.
Sede vacante is a term for the state of an episcopal see while without a bishop. In the canon law of the Catholic Church, the term is used to refer to the vacancy of any see of a particular church, but it comes into especially wide journalistic use when the see is that of the papacy.
A titular see in various churches is an episcopal see of a former diocese that no longer functions, sometimes called a "dead diocese".
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 Roman Catholic and 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.
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.
An auxiliary bishop is a bishop assigned to assist the diocesan bishop in meeting the pastoral and administrative needs of the diocese. Auxiliary bishops can also be titular bishops of sees that no longer exist.
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 diocesan administrator is a provisional ordinary of a Roman Catholic particular church.
A diocesan bishop, within various Christian traditions, is a bishop or archbishop in pastoral charge of a diocese or archdiocese.
Agostino Vallini is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been a cardinal since 2006. From 2008 to 2017 he served as Vicar General of Rome. He is also the Archpriest emeritus of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
The German Bishops' Conference is the episcopal conference of the bishops of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Germany. Members include diocesan bishops, coadjutors, auxiliary bishops, and diocesan administrators.
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.
The appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church is a complicated process. Outgoing bishops, neighbouring bishops, the faithful, the apostolic nuncio, various members of the Roman Curia, and the pope all have a role in the selection. The exact process varies based upon a number of factors, including whether the bishop is from the Latin Church or one of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the geographic location of the diocese, what office the candidate is being chosen to fill, and whether the candidate has previously been ordained to the episcopate.
The Diocese of Rome is the ecclesiastical district under the direct jurisdiction of the pope, who is bishop of Rome as well as the supreme pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church. As the Holy See, the papacy is a sovereign entity with diplomatic relations, and civil jurisdiction over the Vatican City State located geographically within Rome. The Diocese of Rome is the metropolitan diocese of the Province of Rome, an ecclesiastical province in Italy. The first bishop of Rome was Saint Peter in the first century. The incumbent since 13 March 2013 is Pope Francis.
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.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.
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.
The Austrian Bishops' Conference is the official assembly of the Roman Catholic bishops of Austria. It is the supreme authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria, established as a formal body under public law in 1849. Its members include the archbishops of Vienna and Salzburg, all diocesan and auxiliary bishops, as well as the abbot of immediate Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey.