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The Diocese of Rome (Latin: Dioecesis Urbis seu Romana;[2] Italian: Diocesi di Roma), also called the Vicariate of Rome,[3] is the ecclesiastical district under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope, who is Bishop of Rome and hence the supreme pontiff and head of the worldwide Catholic Church. As the Holy See, the papacy is a sovereign entity with diplomatic relations,[4] and civil jurisdiction over the Vatican City State located geographically within Rome. The Diocese of Rome is the metropolitan diocese of the Province of Rome, an ecclesiastical province in Italy. The first bishop of Rome was Saint Peter in the first century. The incumbent since 13 March 2013 is Pope Francis.

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The city of Rome has grown beyond the boundaries of the diocese. Notable parts of the city belong to the dioceses of Ostia and Porto-Santa Rufina. Ostia is administered together with the Vicariate of the city and thus included in the statistics given below, while Porto is instead administered by its own diocesan bishop. The diocese covers an area of 849 km2 and includes most of the city and the municipality of Rome in Italy, and the entire territory of Vatican City. The diocese is divided into two vicariates, each with its respective vicar general.

Two vicars general exercise the episcopal ministry and pastoral government for their respective territories within the diocese of Rome. Unless the bishop of a diocese reserves some acts to himself, vicars general have by law within a diocese the power to undertake all administrative acts that pertain to the bishop except those that in law require a special mandate of the bishop.[8]

The vicariate general (Vicariatus urbis) for the diocesan territory outside of Vatican City, territory that is under Italian sovereignty, is based at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the diocese. The vicar general for the Vicariate of Rome has for centuries been called the cardinal vicar (Italian: Cardinale Vicario). The vicariate has 336 active and 5 suppressed parishes in its territory.[15] Since 1970 the vicar of the city of Rome has also been assigned the office of archpriest of the Lateran Archbasilica, where the diocesan curia has its headquarters. From a strictly pastoral point of view, the diocese is divided into five sectors: north, south, east, west, and center. Each sector is assigned an auxiliary bishop who collaborates with the vicar general and the vicegerent in the pastoral administration of the diocese. The five bishops of the sectors can be joined by other auxiliary bishops for specific pastoral areas such as health care ministry.

There remains the titular Suburbicarian See of Ostia, held, in addition to his previous suburbicarian see, by the cardinal bishop elected to be the dean of the College of Cardinals. The Diocese of Ostia was merged with the Diocese of Rome in 1962, and is now administered by a vicar general, in tight cooperation with the vicar general for Rome. It was also diminished to contain only the cathedral parish of Ostia (Sant'Aurea in Ostia Antica), which, however, in 2012 was divided into two parishes, who together form the present diocese of Ostia.

The Catholic Church teaches that the pastoral office, the office of shepherding the Church, that was held by the apostles, as a group or "college" with Saint Peter as their head, is now held by their successors, the bishops, with the bishop of Rome (the pope) as their head.[27] Thus is derived another title by which the pope is known, that of "supreme pontiff".

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus personally appointed Peter as the visible head of the Church,[b] and the Catholic Church's dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter, in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles.[29] Some historians argue against the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, noting that the episcopal see in Rome can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century.[30]

Though open to historical debate, first-century Christian communities may have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as guides of their local churches. Gradually, episcopal sees were established in metropolitan areas.[38] Antioch may have developed such a structure before Rome.[38] In Rome, there were over time at various junctures rival claimants to be the rightful bishop, though again Irenaeus stressed the validity of one line of bishops from the time of St. Peter up to his contemporary Pope Victor I and listed them.[39] Some writers claim that the emergence of a single bishop in Rome probably did not occur until the middle of the 2nd century. In their view, Linus, Cletus and Clement were possibly prominent presbyter-bishops, but not necessarily monarchical bishops.[30]

Documents of the 1st century and early second century indicate that the bishop of Rome had some kind of pre-eminence and prominence in the Church as a whole, as even a letter from the bishop, or patriarch, of Antioch acknowledged the Bishop of Rome as "a first among equals",[40] though the detail of what this meant is unclear.[c]

Sources suggest that at first, the terms 'episcopos' and 'presbyter' were used interchangeably,[44] with the consensus among scholars being that by the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries, local congregations were led by bishops and presbyters, whose duties of office overlapped or were indistinguishable from one another.[45] Some[who?] say that there was probably "no single 'monarchical' bishop in Rome before the middle of the 2nd century...and likely later."[46]

In the Ravenna Document of 13 October 2007, theologians chosen by the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches stated: "41. Both sides agree ... that Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch,[49] occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. Translated into English, the statement means "first among equals".

What form that should take is still a matter of disagreement, just as it was when the Catholic and Orthodox Churches split in the Great East-West Schism. They also disagree on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos, a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium."[50]

The Edict of Milan in 313 granted freedom to all religions in the Roman Empire,[51] beginning the Peace of the Church. In 325, the First Council of Nicaea condemned Arianism, declaring trinitarianism dogmatic, and in its sixth canon recognized the special role of the Sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.[52] Great defenders of Trinitarian faith included the popes, especially Liberius, who was exiled to Berea by Constantius II for his Trinitarian faith,[53] Damasus I, and several other bishops.[54]

In 380, the Edict of Thessalonica declared Nicene Christianity to be the state religion of the empire, with the name "Catholic Christians" reserved for those who accepted that faith.[55][56] While the civil power in the Eastern Roman Empire controlled the church, and the patriarch of Constantinople, the capital, wielded much power,[57] in the Western Roman Empire, the bishops of Rome were able to consolidate the influence and power they already possessed.[57] After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, barbarian tribes were converted to Arian Christianity or Catholicism;[58] Clovis I, king of the Franks, was the first important barbarian ruler to convert to Catholicism rather than Arianism, allying himself with the papacy. Other tribes, such as the Visigoths, later abandoned Arianism in favour of Catholicism.[58]

Cyprian of Carthage, in his letters, acknowledges the primacy of the Roman Church and its Bishop, stating that "the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, who received the keys of the kingdom from the Lord."[79] He also recognized the bishop of Rome as the successor of St. Peter in his Letter 55 (c. 251 AD), which is addressed to Cornelius, and affirmed his unique authority in the early Christian Church.[80][81]

Cornelius [the Bishop of Rome] was made bishop by the choice of God and of His Christ, by the favorable witness of almost all the clergy, by the votes of the people who were present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men. Therefore, since the place has been occupied by the bishop's chair and by the presence of Peter, who is the first of the apostles and who holds the chief place in the Church, anyone who separates himself from the Church in this place [Rome] rebels against the ordinance of Christ indicating that tradition derived from the apostles , of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles , Peter and Paul ; as also the faith preached to men , which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops . For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [the church of Rome] , on account of its preeminent authority...

Augustine of Hippo believed that the unity of the Church was dependent on the authority of the Pope. In his Sermon 295, delivered in 411 AD, he stated, "For wherever Peter is, there is the Church. And wherever the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal."[86][87] In his letter 53 Augustine wrote a line of 38 Popes from Saint Peter to Siricius affirming the authority of the bishop of Rome as the successor of Peter. [88]

Tertullian wrote in his work "The Prescription Against Heretics" about the primacy of the church in Rome. In this work, Tertullian argued that the Church in Rome had a special position of authority because of its apostolic foundation and that other churches should look to it for guidance in matters of faith which is considered as an emphasis of the primacy of the bishop of Rome.[89] 041b061a72


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