Title church

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A titular church (from Latin titulus ecclesiae ) is a church in Rome with the rank of parish church assigned to a cardinal . This is installed as a pastor at this church and thus belongs to the class of cardinal priests . In fact, the cardinal does not exercise his parish office himself, but has other tasks, mostly as a diocesan bishop or at the Roman curia . The actual pastoral care and management of the parish is usually carried out by a diocesan priest , while the cardinal takes on the role of patron . The establishment of the titular church underlines the close ties between the cardinals and the Pope , in whose diocese they nominally preside over a parish. According to the number of cardinal priests, there are around 150 title churches today that are included in the list of Roman title churches .

Title diakonia

Today the term titular church is often used synonymously with titular diakonia. However, these are not parish churches, but emerge from the early Christian diaconal stations . The holders of a title diakonia are therefore not appointed as pastors, but as deacons and belong to the cardinal class of cardinal deacons . These designations are of historical origin and are not related to the degree of ordination of the title holder, who with a few exceptions have been bishops since modern times. The list of Roman titular diaconies contains the 69 Roman churches that are elevated to titular diaconia.

Origin and history

The origin of the name is explained in different ways:

  • The oldest title churches go back to residential houses, on the front of which the name of the owner was often written.
  • The titular churches were assigned to those presbyters who were destined to serve the Church as a whole.

The last explanation is largely confirmed by the legal sources of ancient literature. The early church in first century Rome was divided into seven regions under Pope Clement . The title churches were not ordinary parishes pleno iure , but subsidiary churches with central administration in the Lateran . The presbyters who headed a titular church had a prominent position as Presbyteri cardinales . With the number of cardinal priests appointed by the Pope, so did the number of titular churches.

From the 4th century, the previous buildings were replaced by splendidly furnished basilicas , and new basilicas were built as title churches. In the 6th century there were 25 titular churches, since the 16th century there are 50. Since the Popes John XXIII. 1959 and Paul VI. far exceeded the number of 50 cardinal priests set by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, other churches were elevated to the rank of titular church.

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