Diocesan bishop

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The hl. Hugo , at the time Bishop of Grenoble , receives St. Bruno , the founder of the Carthusian Order . Stained glass window in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Grenoble .

The term diocesan bishop is used in churches with episcopal church orders to distinguish a bishop who is head of a diocese (diocese) from the other bishops ( titular bishop , auxiliary bishop ).


In the formation of the offices in the church, the office of the bishop developed from the beginning of the 2nd century in the sense of the Monepiscopate , as the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (around 110) indicate for the first time. According to this model, the bishop took up a position in the particular Church, which assigned him a monarchical position as representative of God, father of the community and in the responsibility of the pastor in the succession of the apostles. The development and implementation of the Monepiscopate was completed at the beginning of the 3rd century. Through the one bishop who was in charge of the celebration of the Eucharist , the direction of all activities of church life was ensured in such a way that the tradition of the treasure trove in the tradition of the apostles and the unity of the community were preserved. The absolute position of the bishop in the sense of the Monepiscopate became on the one hand the starting point for disputes about the occupation of the bishopric in the Middle Ages, on the other hand it was weakened by the theological upgrading of the priesthood. Despite the leadership of the Eucharist, which now also falls to the priest, the episcopate as a dignity and leadership function remained untouched. The role of the bishop as supreme shepherd, teacher and priest was confirmed for the Roman Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council and the connection between sacramental justification and the legal position of the episcopate was reformulated. According to this, episcopal ordination and episcopal office are fundamentally geared towards the leadership of a particular church headed by a diocesan bishop. In the case of the titular bishops, this connection is at least symbolically maintained by assigning a lost diocese as the titular seat.

Legal Status

The diocesan bishop has “the ordinary, autonomous and direct power [...] that is necessary for the exercise of his pastoral service; except what is reserved by law or by order of the Pope to the highest or to another ecclesiastical authority ”. ( Can. 381 CIC ) The diocesan bishop takes over this power not with the appointment by the Pope, but with the canonical seizure of the diocese. ( Can. 382 CIC ) This is done by presenting the Apostolic Letter regarding his appointment in person or through a representative to the College of Consultors of the Diocese (CIC can 382 § 3). From this point on he has the right and also the duty to exercise legislative, administrative and judicial power in his diocese in accordance with the legal provisions of canon law . Legislation is incumbent on the diocesan bishop himself, while he usually delegates administration to the vicar general or episcopal vicars and jurisdiction to the official . ( Can. 391 CIC ) On reaching the age of 75 or if he can no longer fulfill his task for health or other reasons, the diocesan bishop - like all other ordinaries - is obliged to offer the Pope his resignation. ( can. 401 CIC )


As a shepherd, the diocesan bishop is particularly concerned about the salvation of the faithful, regardless of their age and status. Ecumenical openness towards Christians of other denominations and the non-baptized is required of him. ( Can. 383 CIC ) His special care must be given to the priests as his co-workers, and he must also take care of the pastoral ministry. ( can. 386-386 CIC )

As the chief teacher in his diocese, he is responsible for the preaching of the faith and, as a priest, for the “sanctification of the faithful”. He has to celebrate Holy Mass for his diocesans on all Sundays and public holidays (application obligation) ( can. 388 CIC ).

As part of the duty of visitation, the diocesan bishop has to visit his diocese within five years ( can. 396 CIC ), to have his residence in the diocese ( duty of residence) ( can. 395-398 CIC ) and to visit the pope within the framework of the ad-limina- Visits to report back. ( can. 399 CIC )


The diocesan bishop has the unrestricted right to use and exercise the pontificals in his diocese . ( Can. 390 CIC ) He has a cathedra and is mentioned in all Holy Masses in the Canon Missae . The regulations for the Roman Catholic Church apply analogously to the Eastern Catholic Churches , the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches and other Episcopal Churches according to their respective legal norms.

Diocesan and auxiliary bishops are on an equal footing with one another in ordination. Both can perform the same ordinances as bishops. Auxiliary bishops are, however, subordinate to their respective diocesan bishops and act according to their legal instructions.

As a rule, all bishops of a country come together in a bishops' conference in which they discuss practical questions of pastoral cooperation and coordinate their actions.

A bishop in the Roman Catholic Church is either a diocesan bishop or a titular bishop ( can. 376 CIC ). A titular bishop is a bishop without jurisdiction, that is, he does not lead a diocese. He works in the diplomatic service or in the Roman Curia; or he helps a diocesan bishop as auxiliary bishop in the management of the diocese.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Auxiliary Bishop - Diocesan Bishop
  2. ^ Hermann Josef Pottmeyer: Bishop. II. Historical-theological . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 2 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1994, Sp. 482-486 .
  3. Lumen Gentium, LG21. In: Council Constitution. Holy See Press Office , accessed 19 February 2017 .
  4. Peter Krämer: Bishop. IV. Canon law . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 2 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1994, Sp. 488-489 .
  5. Norbert Ruf: The right of the Catholic Church according to the Codex Iuris Canonici. 3rd edition, Freiburg 1984, ISBN 3-451-19842-8 , pp. 119f
  6. Norbert Ruf: The right of the Catholic Church according to the Codex Iuris Canonici. 3rd edition, Freiburg 1984, ISBN 3-451-19842-8 , pp. 121f.
  7. Archbishop - Diocesan Bishop