Jurisdiction (church)

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The ecclesiastical jurisdiction describes the legal and administrative sovereignty of a full professor in his particular church (jurisdiction area).


In the pre-Reformation churches , every head ( pope , diocesan bishop , patriarch ) of a diocese exercises direct jurisdiction over his (part) church. He has sole power of management. A distinction is made according to the degree between the jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop and the patriarchal jurisdiction of a patriarch.

Patriarchal jurisdiction

The patriarchal jurisdiction is derived from the five old church patriarchates ( Rome , Constantinople , Antioch , Alexandria , Jerusalem ), which together formed the universal church of that time, with each patriarch having sole legal, administrative and teaching authority in his patriarchy. A patriarch is at the top of the hierarchy of his church; therefore there is no hierarchy among patriarchs, no patriarch is above another patriarch. Exceptions to this are protocol honorary primacy. Patriarchs in this sense are also ordinaries with the ecclesiastical title Catholicos , which they bear instead of or in addition to the title of patriarch.

A patriarch can traditionally hold patriarchal synods in his area , appoint bishops and other ordinaries, establish dioceses and diocese boundaries, draw up canon laws and interpret canon law.

The titular patriarchs without jurisdiction are to be distinguished from the actual patriarchs with jurisdiction .

Roman Catholic Church

The Pope's jurisdiction was established in the First Vatican Council in 1870 by defining the papal primacy as the highest internal church legal authority (jurisdiction primacy) - in addition to the highest teaching power - in dogma . It found expression in canon § 1399 and triggered the Bismark culture war . All patriarchs, bishops and faithful were and are in accordance with the dogma the primacy of jurisdiction subject of the Pope as the head of the world church. The Second Vatican Council confirmed this primacy in its dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium over the Church: “By virtue of his office as representative of Christ and Shepherd of the whole Church, the Bishop of Rome has full, supreme and universal power over the Church and can always exercise it freely . ”The college of bishops is, however, together with the Pope“ and never without this head also the bearer of the highest and full authority over the whole Church ”; However, this power can only be exercised with the consent of the Pope ( Lumen Gentium No. 22)

Today, in addition to the ancient church patriarchate of Rome with the pope as patriarch of the western church ("Patriarch of the West", "Patriarch of the Occident" - this title has not been officially used since Pope Benedict XVI. ), The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (jurisdiction over Palestine and Cyprus) as well as the six patriarchates of the Eastern Churches united with Rome (jurisdiction over the believers of the respective rite ). All other patriarchates or patriarchs are titular. The Greek-Melkite patriarchate is divided into three patriarchal seats, the others have only one seat each.

The sovereign power of the Pope over the entire world church cannot be expressed by the title of patriarch (see above); this function is recognizable by the title of Christ's representative ( lat. vicarius christi ).

The patriarchal jurisdiction is regulated differently with the individual patriarchal churches. A patriarch sometimes needs the confirmation of his legal acts by the Pope.

Individual evidence

  1. Pulpit paragraph in the Kulturkampf
  2. ^ Vatican declaration on renouncing the title 'Patriarch of the West' on kath.net.de

Web links