Vicar General

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Coat of arms of a vicar general

A vicar general ( Latin vicarius generalis , vicarius "deputy") is the deputy of a resident bishop in the Roman Catholic Church and the Old Catholic Church and is responsible for the administration of the diocese . He heads the General Vicariate , the central administrative authority of the diocese.


As early as the Middle Ages , diocesan bishops appointed vicars general or episcopal vicars, called archdeacon or archdeacon at the time , who were entrusted with the administration of the corresponding episcopal area. They could also perform tasks of the bishop, such as holding liturgies (for example certain holy masses , devotions , pilgrimages ), consecrating churches or appointing pastors .

Roman Catholic Church

Task and power of attorney

The Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC), the ecclesiastical code, dedicates a separate article to vicars general and episcopal vicars ( cann. 475–481 CIC ).

The vicar general (vicarius generalis) "supports the diocesan bishop in the management of the entire diocese" (Can. 475.1 CIC) and is therefore in accordance with the applicable canon law with vicarious authority or authority ( potestas ordinaria vicaria , in the sense of Can. 131 , 2 CIC).

As a rule, only one vicar general is to be appointed, unless the size of the diocese, the number of inhabitants or other pastoral reasons suggest otherwise ( can. 475 §2 CIC ).

By virtue of his office, the vicar general has the executive power ( potestas executica ) throughout the diocese , which the diocesan bishop has by law in order to be able to issue all administrative acts , with the exception of those that the bishop has reserved for himself or those that are legally entitled to a special mandate of the bishop ( can. 479 §2 CIC ).

The vicar general is therefore charged with the execution of general administrative matters as well as the execution of the tasks that have been assigned to him by the bishop ( potestas executica a ordinario delegata , in the sense of can. 479 §1 CIC ). The tasks and official powers of the vicar general are therefore always dependent on the definition and delegation of the respective diocesan bishop.

The tasks and powers of a vicar general are partly expanded interpretatively, in that he is referred to as the “personal” deputy of the diocesan bishop or even as his alter ego . Both views, however, contradict the objective-functional task, from which no personal closeness can be derived. Nevertheless, a vicar general as deputy has the second highest office in a diocese after that of the diocesan bishop before the auxiliary bishops. However, he is always dependent on this and has to obey his orders and instructions.

The office of Episcopal Vicar ( vicarius episcopalis ) is administratively equated with the Vicar General, but has a juridical restriction on a certain segment within a diocese. The diocesan bishop can appoint one or more episcopal vicars who have the same ordinary power as the vicar general ( can. 476 CIC ) in a precisely defined area of ​​the diocese, in a more precisely defined area of ​​responsibility or for the faithful of a certain rite or group of people .

An official is the head of a church court ( tribunal ecclesiasticum ) and, as judicial vicar, the representative of the diocesan bishop at the court in whose name he speaks justice .

Requirements and Term of Office

A vicar general must be a priest , at least 30 years old and a doctor or licentiate (Lic. Theol.) In canon law or theology , or at least really experienced in these disciplines, "proven by orthodoxy, righteousness, prudence and practical administrative experience" ( can. 478 §1 CIC ) and blood related to the bishop at most in the fifth degree ( can. 478 §2 CIC ).

In each diocese the diocesan bishop appoints a vicar general who assists the bishop in the direction of the whole diocese ( can. 475 §1 CIC ). The vicar general is appointed according to can. 477 CIC freely appointed by the diocesan bishop and can be recalled by him. The power of the vicar general expires with the expiry of the commission , with resignation from office or with recall by the diocesan bishop. Since the vicar general is the deputy of the diocesan bishop, he also immediately loses his office in the event of the death, resignation, transfer, removal or suspension of the diocesan bishop ( can. 481 CIC ).

Vicars General in the German dioceses

Diocese Ecclesiastical province Vicar General since
Archdiocese of Bamberg Bamberg Georg Kestel April 1, 2006
Diocese of Eichstätt Bamberg Michael Huber 1st September 2019
Diocese of Speyer Bamberg Andreas Sturm June 10, 2018
Diocese of Würzburg Bamberg Thomas Keßler June 10, 2018
Archdiocese of Berlin Berlin Manfred Kollig 1st February 2017
Diocese of Dresden-Meißen Berlin Andreas Kutschke November 12, 2013
Diocese of Görlitz Berlin Alfred Hoffmann September 1, 2012
Archdiocese of Freiburg Freiburg Axel Mehlmann February 1, 2015
Diocese of Mainz Freiburg Udo Bentz 27th August 2017
Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Freiburg Clemens Stroppel January 1, 2005
Archdiocese of Hamburg Hamburg Ansgar Thim April 8, 2013
Diocese of Hildesheim Hamburg Martin Wilk June 27, 2019
Diocese of Osnabrück Hamburg Theo Paul January 1997
Archdiocese of Cologne Cologne Markus Hofmann 1st May 2018
Diocese of Aachen Cologne Andreas Frick January 9, 2015
Diocese of Essen Cologne Klaus Pfeffer November 1, 2012
Diocese of Limburg Cologne Wolfgang Rösch October 23, 2013
Diocese of Münster Cologne Klaus Winterkamp 1st October 2018
Diocese of Trier Cologne Ulrich Graf von Plettenberg July 1, 2016
Archdiocese of Munich and Freising Munich and Freising Peter Beer January 1, 2010
Diocese of Augsburg Munich and Freising Harald Heinrich June 7, 2020
Diocese of Passau Munich and Freising Klaus Metzl February 22, 2005
Diocese of Regensburg Munich and Freising Michael Fuchs January 26, 2013
Archdiocese of Paderborn Paderborn Alfons Hardt 2004
Diocese of Erfurt Paderborn Raimund Beck September 1, 2010
Diocese of Fulda Paderborn Gerhard Stanke October 15, 2008
Diocese of Magdeburg Paderborn Bernhard Scholz September 1, 2016

Vicars General in the Austrian dioceses

Diocese Ecclesiastical province Vicar General since
Archdiocese of Salzburg Salzburg Roland Rasser
Feldkirch diocese Salzburg Hubert Lenz 1st September 2019
Diocese of Graz-Seckau Salzburg Erich Linhardt
Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt Salzburg Johann Sedlmaier 3rd February 2020
Diocese of Innsbruck Salzburg Florian Huber
Archdiocese of Vienna Vienna Nikolaus Krasa 2011
Eisenstadt diocese Vienna Martin Korpitsch
Diocese of Linz Vienna Severin Lederhilger September 18, 2005
Diocese of St. Pölten Vienna Eduard Gruber September 1, 2008

Vicars General in the Swiss dioceses

Diocese Ecclesiastical province Vicar General since
Diocese of Basel Exemption Markus Thürig
Diocese of Chur Exemption Martin Grichting December 8, 2009
Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Friborg Exemption Remy Berchier
Diocese of Lugano Exemption Ernesto Storelli
Diocese of Mores Exemption Richard Lehner

Pierre-Yves Maillard

Diocese of St. Gallen Exemption Guido Scherrer
Einsiedeln Monastery Exemption Dean: Daniel Emmenegger April 9, 2018
Saint-Maurice Abbey Exemption Roland Jaquenoud

Vicars General in religious orders

Religious communities that have a superior general at their head also know the title of vicar general for his deputy. In this context, there are also vicars general in some sister congregations.

Military chaplaincy

Since the military chaplaincy is subordinate to a military bishop, he has a vicar general.

Anglican Church

In the Anglican Church , the official title vicar general is also common. In contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, an Anglican Vicar General only acts when the bishop is prevented from doing so.

Old Catholic Church

The vicar general of the Catholic diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany is Jürgen Wenge .

Secular vicars general

In the Middle Ages, vicar was also used to refer to the deputy secular rulers. The vicar general in particular was the king's or emperor's deputy in an area that was not under direct ducal authority.

Similar office titles


  • Vicar / vicar I . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 35, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-017781-1 , p. 85 f.
  • Heinrich Molitor: The area of ​​competence of the vicar general and official of the Archdiocese of Cologne during the 17th and 18th centuries . Cologne 1960.

Web links

Wiktionary: Vicar General  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. see also: List of Berlin Vicars General
  2. ^ Archbishopric Berlin: Vicar General. Retrieved March 15, 2017 .
  4. [1] , accessed on February 15, 2016