The Cardinal Vicar ( Italian Cardinale Vicario ), officially vicar general of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome ( Latin Vicarius Generalis Dioecesis Romanae , Italian Vicario Generale di Sua Santita per la diocesi di Roma ) is communicating with the spiritual, pastoral and administrative leadership of the Diocese of Rome commissioned Representative of the Pope in his capacity as Bishop of Rome . Usually this office is exercised by a cardinal ; if the incumbent is not (yet) a cardinal, he is called Pro-Vicar General of His Holiness .
In terms of canon law , the cardinal vicar is an auxiliary bishop appointed to the diocese of Rome , who has the powers of a vicar general and is in the rank of cardinal. The Pope thus remains de iure local ordinary in Rome as Bishop of Rome , but de facto the Pope has only very little influence on the management of the Diocese of Rome due to the extensive tasks for the universal Church, so that the office of Cardinal Vicar was given very far-reaching powers most decisions regarding the Church in Rome are also made by him.
According to the provisions of Pope Paul VI. decreed Apostolic Constitution Vicariae potestatis in urbe No. 2 § 1 of January 6, 1977, the cardinal vicar remains in office even after the death of the Pope. This regulation was confirmed by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis of February 22, 1996. This guarantees the continuity of the leadership of the Diocese of Rome during the vacancy of the Sedis , in that the Cardinal Vicar continues to administer the diocese as a “ diocesan administrator ”, while, according to the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus (Art. 6) of June 28, 1988, the heads of the Roman dicasteries Curia must resign from the exercise of their office.
Since the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the Vatican City has been excluded from the jurisdiction of the Cardinal Vicar , for which the office of Vicar General of His Holiness was newly created for the Vatican City , although the territory of the Vatican City belongs to the territory of the Diocese of Rome. However, the cardinal vicar has the function of an " apostolic administrator " for the diocese of Ostia , after the diocesan area of Ostia since Pius XII. is co-administered by the Vicariate of Rome .
As a rule, the office of cardinal vicar is linked at the same time with that of the archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. John Lateran , the Episcopal Church of Rome, and that of the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University . The seat of the Cardinal Vicar and Vicariate of Rome has been since Pope John XXIII. at the Lateran Basilica in the Lateran Palace.