- Titular see
A titular see in the
Roman Catholic Churchis a Dioceseor Archdiocese that now exists in title only. It is led by a titular bishopor Archbishop, a bishopwho is not a diocesan ordinarybut either an official of the Holy See, an auxiliary bishop, or the head of a jurisdiction that is equivalent to a diocese under canon law. Bishops who do not have proper authority over an existing diocese are normally given a titular see by the Pope. At one time coadjutorbishops and archbishops were given titular sees — however now they are given title to the diocese or archdiocese that they will oversee as coadjutor. Retired Bishops and Archbishops were also given titular sees, however the common practice now is to name them Bishop or Archbishop Emeritusof the see they retired from.
Roman Curiamaintains a regular position on titular sees. It states:
It is the custom of the apostolic see to confer on these bishops the title of one of those churches which in days past flourished with the splendor of virtue and the progress of religion, even though as a result of the changes and ravages of time they may now have lost their ancient resplendent glory.While the Vatican hopes that titular sees will one day become active dioceses once again, it realizes in most cases the chances of that happening are low. Some titular sees appear also to remain vacant for oecumenical reasons (e.g. a number of those in the immediate vicinity of Greek Orthodox patriarchates).
During the historical expansion of
Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church expanded its realm. However, in some areas of the world where the religion once flourished, the presence of the Roman Catholic Church has now diminished or disappeared. Local churches split off from the larger Church while other regions were converted to Islam. Reorganizations would sometimes lead to dioceses being absorbed into one or more other dioceses. At times the see cities of dioceses were relocated to other cities, and the diocese in question was renamed. The Roman Catholic Church adopted the practice of assigning bishops to titular sees as a way of remembering those dioceses. Until 1882, such titular sees were distinguished by the Latinphrase " in partibus infidelium" ("in the territory of the infidels") or more often simply "in partibus".
Occasionally, the transfer of a diocesan bishop to a titular see has been used by the Holy See to strip of his responsibilities a bishop whose behavior it disapproved of. For instance, in 1995, Bishop Jacques Gaillot, known for his activism on Catholic-sensitive social and political topics, was transferred from the
Diocese of Évreuxin France to Partenia, a titular see in Algeria.
The granting of titular sees is occasionally practiced in the
Eastern Orthodox Church, for example, to avoid causing offense or confusion when an Orthodox bishop serves a place which is also the see of a non-Orthodox bishop (e.g. the Orthodox bishop in Oxford, England, is titled Bishop of Diokleia).
List of Titular Sees
* [http://www.gcatholic.com/dioceses/data/titA.htm List of all Titular sees] by Giga-Catholic Information
* [http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/lt.html List of titular sees]
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