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Titular bishop

Titular bishop

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A titular bishop in various churches is a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 who is not in charge of a diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

.
By definition a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 is an "overseer" of a community of the faithful, so when a priest is ordained a bishop the tradition of the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and Orthodox churches is that he be ordained for a specific place. As there are more bishops than there are dioceses, a bishop who will not functionally head a diocese or archdiocese (they are destined to be appointed, e.g., an auxiliary bishop
Auxiliary bishop
An auxiliary bishop, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an additional bishop assigned to a diocese because the diocesan bishop is unable to perform his functions, the diocese is so extensive that it requires more than one bishop to administer, or the diocese is attached to a royal or imperial office...

, a papal diplomat, an official of the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

, etc., or have retired from one of those) is given title of bishop. This is often (though not always) to a Titular see
Titular see
A titular see in various churches is an episcopal see of a former diocese that no longer functions, sometimes called a "dead diocese". The ordinary or hierarch of such a see may be styled a "titular bishop", "titular metropolitan", or "titular archbishop"....

, i.e. a diocese that no longer functionally exists.

Roman Catholic Church


In the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, a titular bishop is a bishop who is not in charge of a diocese (Canon
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 376). Examples of bishops belonging to this category are coadjutor bishop
Coadjutor bishop
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches who is designated to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese, almost as co-bishop of the diocese...

s, auxiliary bishop
Auxiliary bishop
An auxiliary bishop, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an additional bishop assigned to a diocese because the diocesan bishop is unable to perform his functions, the diocese is so extensive that it requires more than one bishop to administer, or the diocese is attached to a royal or imperial office...

s, bishops emeriti
Emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

, vicars apostolic, nuncio
Nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

s, superiors of departments in the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

, and cardinal bishops of suburbicarian diocese
Suburbicarian diocese
The seven suburbicarian dioceses are Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome, whose bishops form the highest-ranking order of Cardinals, the Cardinal Bishops....

s (since they are not in charge of the suburbicarian dioceses). Most titular bishops hold the title to a titular see
Titular see
A titular see in various churches is an episcopal see of a former diocese that no longer functions, sometimes called a "dead diocese". The ordinary or hierarch of such a see may be styled a "titular bishop", "titular metropolitan", or "titular archbishop"....

. Assigning titular sees serves two purposes. Since part of being a bishop means being the head of a Church, titular sees serve that purpose for bishops without a diocese. At the same time, the office of titular bishop memorializes ancient Churches, most of which were suppressed because they fell into the hands of non-Christian conquerors. For this reason the former terminology was not "titular bishop" but "bishop in infidel regions" (in partibus infidelium). In recent times the names of titular sees are drawn also in numerous cases from those of former dioceses which were absorbed into other dioceses or expanded and hence moved to larger towns and cities.

Since 1970, there are two more exceptions. Diocesan bishops who resign their see or are transferred to a non-diocesan appointment are no longer habitually transferred to a titular see. Instead, they take the title Bishop Emeritus
Emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

of the former see. Also, coadjutor
Coadjutor bishop
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches who is designated to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese, almost as co-bishop of the diocese...

 are no longer named to titular sees, instead taking the title Coadjutor Bishop of the see they will inherit. In other cases titular bishops still take a titular see.

Here are two examples to illustrate the difference. When Francis Green
Francis Joseph Green
Francis Joseph Green was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Tucson from 1960 to 1981.-Biography:...

 was named Coadjutor Bishop of Tucson, Arizona
Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the southwestern region of the United States. It comprises nine counties of the state of Arizona, making it the fifth largest diocese in the continental United States in terms of area...

, in 1960, his official title remained "Titular Bishop of Serra" until he succeeded Daniel James Gercke
Daniel James Gercke
Daniel James Gercke was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Tucson from 1923 to 1960.-Biography:...

 later that same year. However, when Gerald Kicanas became Coadjutor Bishop of Tucson in 2001, he ceased being Titular Bishop of Bela. He still remained a titular bishop until he succeeded Manuel Moreno in 2003, but his official title changed from "Titular Bishop of Bela" to "Coadjutor Bishop of Tucson."

Cardinal Bishops of suburbicarian diocese
Suburbicarian diocese
The seven suburbicarian dioceses are Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome, whose bishops form the highest-ranking order of Cardinals, the Cardinal Bishops....

s are also titular bishops, but they hold titles to existing dioceses, namely one or more of the suburbicarian sees, but while they do not govern their see they are obliged to give it their patronage. Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current Dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican Secretary of State, having held that post from 1990 to 2006, under both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI...

, as Cardinal Bishop of Albano, is titular bishop of the see, while Bishop Marcello Semeraro is its actual diocesan bishop. The Cardinal Dean is by tradition Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, in addition to the suburbicarian see he previously held.

Occasionally, the transfer of a diocesan bishop to a titular see has been used by the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 to strip of his responsibilities a bishop whose behavior it disapproved of. For instance, in 1995, Jacques Gaillot
Jacques Gaillot
The Most Reverend Dr. Jacques Jean Edmond Georges Monseigneur Gaillot , Titular Bishop of Partenia, is a French Catholic clergyman and social activist. He was from 1982 to 1995 Bishop of Évreux in France...

, known for his activism on Catholic-sensitive social and political topics (pro-contraception, abortion, etc...), was transferred from the see of Évreux
Roman Catholic Diocese of Évreux
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Évreux is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite diocese in France. The diocese comprises the department of Eure within the Region of Normandy...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to Partenia
Partenia
Partenia is a Roman Catholic titular see in present-day Sétif Province, Algeria. Formerly a major city, the episcopal see was abandoned and consumed by the Sahara desert in the 5th century...

, a titular see in Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

.

Orthodox Church


Titular bishops and titular metropolitans are often appointed in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

. Their titular dioceses are usually in Thrace and Asia Minor and were often active until the Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1923.

See also

  • Catholic Church hierarchy
    Catholic Church hierarchy
    The term Hierarchy in the Catholic Church has a variety of related usages. Literally, "holy government", the term is employed in different instances. There is a Hierarchy of Truths, which refers to the levels of solemnity of the official teaching of the faith...

  • Titular archbishop
  • List of titular sees