Apostolic Vicariate

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According to Roman Catholic church law ( CIC 1983 ), an apostolic vicariate is a specific part of the Catholic faith community that has not yet been established as a diocese due to special circumstances . The preliminary stage is the Apostolic Prefecture . Field vicariates (later: military vicariates) existed as a separate, permanent form of organization for pastoral care in the armed forces.

There is a Vicar Apostolic who is usually titular bishop and who at the same time has full jurisdiction over the area of ​​the Vicariate Apostolic. He has the same duties as a diocesan bishop . In fact, however, he is not, like a diocesan bishop , a full professor himself , but only a deputy of the Pope by virtue of proper representative authority (potestas).

After the fall of most of the North German dioceses in the Reformation , their areas were combined in the Apostolic Vicariate of the North until 1821/1824 .

In the late 20th century there were hardly any Vicariates apostolic left; most of those who proved viable were elevated to dioceses. Under Pope John Paul II , apostolic vicariats were again increasingly established. They are often in mission areas .

Because most of the mission areas are looked after by religious orders , in the apostolic vicariates mostly religious are also bishops.

Currently existing




See also


  • Wilhelm Rees : Apostolic Vicar or Prefect . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 1 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993, Sp. 878 .
  • Franz Kalde: Diocesan and quasidiocesan particular churches. In: Joseph Listl, Heribert Schmitz (ed.): Handbook of Catholic Church Law. 2nd completely revised edition. Regensburg 1999, p. 420ff., Especially p. 423.


  1. cf. cc. 134, 368, 381 § 2, 400 § 3 CIC