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Encyclopedia > Archdiocese

In some Christian churches, the diocese is an administrative territorial unit governed by a bishop, sometimes also referred to as a bishopric or episcopal see, though more often the term episcopal see means the office held by the bishop. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, an important diocese, governed by an Archbishop is called an archdiocese (usually due to size or historical significance). As of 2003, there are about 569 Roman Catholic archdioceses and 2014 dioceses in the world.

Some Protestant churches such as the Church of England have inherited this diocesan structure directly, during the Protestant Reformation.

In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided provinces were administratively associated in a larger unit, the diocese. (Latin dioecesis from a Greek term meaning "administration").

The Catholic Church directly inherited this Roman structure of authority during the 5th and 6th centuries, as bishops fully assumed the former roles of the Roman praefectus. The transfer was facilitated by the Christian practice of setting the areas of ecclesiastical administration very exactly coinciding with those of the civil administration: in modern times, many an ancient diocese, though later divided among several dioceses, has preserved the boundaries of a long-vanished Roman administrative division. See further information concerning bishops in civil government at the entry Bishop.


In the Roman Empire

The earliest use of "diocese" as an administrative unit was in the Greek_speaking East, applied for instance to three districts— Cibyra, Apamea and Synnada— that were added to the province of Cilicia in the time of Cicero, who mentions the fact in his familiar letters (EB 1911). The word, an equivalent to a tax_collecting district, came to be applied to the territory itself.

In the reorganization of the empire that was begun by Diocletian and carried through by Constantine, the empire was divided into twelve dioceses, of which the largest, Oriens, included sixteen provinces, and the smallest, of Britain, included four. A list of Roman dioceses as the finally were in 395 CE can be found at the entry Roman province.

Each diocese was governed by a praetor vicarius who was subjected to the praefectus. Between the 4th and 6th centuries, as the older administrative structure began to crumble, the position of the bishops in the Christianized Empire of Late Antiquity expanded to fill the vacuum. The senatorial aristocracy, especially in the provinces, remained a source of local authority. By this time, however, that authority was often vested in the spiritual office of bishop. It is therefore of little surprise that, as the Catholic and later the Eastern Orthodox churches began to define their administrative structure, they relied on the older Roman terminology to describe administrative units and hierarchy, and ecclesiastical and secular authorities blurred together. In the Eastern Empire, this became fundamental doctrine: see Caesaropapism.

Christian hierarchy

Christian usage in the modern sense of the sphere of a bishop's jurisdiction became commonplace only within the consciously "classicizing" structure of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century, but the usage had been taking over from the much earlier parochia ("parish") from the surfacing of the Christian authority structure in the 4th century (see EB 1911).

See also

External links

  • Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 (http://5.1911encyclopedia.org/D/DI/DIOCESE.htm)
  • Virtually complete list of current and historical Catholic dioceses worldwide (http://www.catholic_hierarchy.org/)
  • Another such list, in English and Norwegian (http://www.katolsk.no/utenriks/index-en.htm)
  • List of current Anglican/Episcopalian dioceses (http://anglican.org/domain/admin/bydiocese.html)

  Results from FactBites:
Law.com - 3rd Circuit Rejects RICO Claim Against Archdiocese (664 words)
Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs cannot show they suffered a RICO-style injury that was caused by the cover-up.
Plaintiffs attorney Stewart J. Eisenberg of Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck argued in the appeal that the archdiocese engaged in a large-scale cover-up of alleged child abuse perpetrated by priests.
Eisenberg argued that the archdiocese should be held responsible under RICO because the alleged cover-up deprived the plaintiffs of the rights they would have had in personal injury suits against the church.
When and what did archdiocese know? :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Religion (596 words)
A concerned dad notified the Archdiocese of Chicago in December 2002 that the Rev. Donald McGuire was sharing a bed with his son and "overwhelming" another teen with porn and sex talk.
But the archdiocese appears to have done only a minimal inquiry, didn't tell civil authorities or immediately strip McGuire of his ability to perform priestly duties in the region, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Had the archdiocese been more proactive, it may have prevented the third teen, a minor, from being abused well into 2003, abuse prevention advocates say.
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