Apostolic Administrator

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An apostolic administrator ( lat. : Administrator apostolicus ), according to the Codex iuris canonici one from Pope employed manager of a particular diocese , the diocese of a circumscribed part or a similar bistum Church territory or the head of an apostolic administration . The Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium also knows the canonical construction of an Apostolic Administrator for the area of ​​the United Eastern Churches , but not the administrative structure of the Apostolic Administration.

Canonical position

The apostolic administrator does not exercise his leadership function like a bishop as an office of divine right , but is the vicar (deputy) of the pope in the area for which he is appointed . He can use it for a specific or indefinite period and recall it at any time. The exact canonical position and the area of ​​responsibility are described in the appointment decree. As a rule, an apostolic administrator has episcopal ordination , but there are exceptions.


The Holy See divides into various forms of office according to the circumstances for which an Apostolic Administrator is appointed:

Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis

If a bishopric is vacant, an apostolic administrator can be appointed by the Pope instead of a diocesan administrator elected by the cathedral chapter or the college of consultors . This approach is often chosen when the replacement of the episcopal see encounters difficulties or could take a long time. As a rule, diocesan bishops who have resigned for reasons of age or who have been transferred to another bishopric are appointed apostolic administrator for their previous diocese until a new bishop is appointed and officially takes over the official business. In rare cases, however, the metropolitan or another bishop of the ecclesiastical province is appointed as apostolic administrator of a particular church in the ecclesiastical province.

In current practice, this form of apostolic administrator is the most common.

Apostolic Administrator sede plena

In addition, an apostolic administrator is appointed when the bishop proves incapable of administration. With the assumption of office of the Apostolic Administrator, the power of the diocesan bishop and his vicar general is suspended . However, the administrator may not intervene against the past administration or initiate proceedings against the bishop or the vicar general.

Apostolic Administrator sede impedita

Similarly, when an Apostolic Administrator is appointed sede impedita . This mainly happens when the diocesan bishop is completely involved in the ordinary exercise of office, e.g. B. by imprisonment , disabled or completely in the office, z. B. by mental illness , fails. As soon as the Apostolic Administrator takes office, the jurisdiction of the bishop expires , but not necessarily the official authority of the vicar general. The appointment of an apostolic administrator by the Holy See is not mandatory in this case and therefore extremely rare, as the stipulations of can. 413 CIC / 1983 an already existing coadjutor or an auxiliary bishop , vicar general or another priest who has been established in a list drawn up by the bishop for this situation takes over the leadership of the diocese or, in the absence of such a list, the college of consultors (in Germany: cathedral chapter ) should choose such a priest. If, therefore, an Apostolic Administrator appointed by the Holy See for this case should take over the direction of the diocese, then according to can. 414 CIC / 1983 only the rights and obligations of a diocesan administrator, unless otherwise specified in the appointment decree.

Apostolic administrator of the permanent constitutus

The official title of Apostolic Administrator permanent constitutus can no longer be found in the new Codex iuris canonici from 1983, but this designation from the CIC of 1917 was also used after the entry into force of the new code for administrators of West German dioceses located in GDR territory ( Bischöfliches Amt Erfurt -Meiningen , Episcopal Office Magdeburg , Episcopal Office Schwerin ). Such an Apostolic Administrator, according to can. 315 § 1 CIC / 1917 the same rights and duties as a resident diocesan bishop had. The Administratores Apostolici permanenter constituti were therefore usually endowed with episcopal ordination and permanently appointed, without the areas administered by them being elevated to the status of an Apostolic Administration. Rather, the jurisdiction of the actual diocesan bishops rested for the areas of the administrators and was transferred to the apostolic administrators appointed. However, in the course of the reorganization of the Catholic Church in Germany after reunification in 1994, this concept of canon law disappeared and did not appear again in the Annuario Pontificio of 1995.


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