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Archdiocese vs diocese
Question from Chuck McCumber on 6/7/2009:

We live in the Archdioces of Omaha. Bishop George Lucas has been named as the successor to Archbishop Eldon Curtiss. Will Bishop Lucas automatically become an Archbishop or will the Archdiocese become a diocese?

What is the difference between a diocese and an archdiocese?

Yours in Christ,

Chuck McCumber Past State Deputy (KofC)

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 6/19/2009:

Yes, Bishop Lucas will become an archbishop; the archdiocese of Omaha will not be demoted. Rather, Bishop Lucas has been transferred from his diocese and given charge over a larger ecclesiastical territory, designated an archdiocese. He will thus become an archbishop.

As a structured society, the Catholic Church is organized and governed along lines corresponding mainly to the jurisdictions of the pope and Bishops. The pope is the supreme head of the Church. He has primacy of jurisdiction as well as honor over the entire Church. Bishops, in union with and in subordination to the pope, are the successors of the Apostles for care of the Church and for the continuation of Christ’s mission in the world. They serve the people of their own dioceses, or particular churches, with ordinary authority and jurisdiction. They also share, with the pope and each other, common concern and effort for the general welfare of the whole Church.

Subject to the Holy Father and directly responsible to him for the exercise of their ministry of service to people in various jurisdictions or divisions of the Church throughout the world are: resident archbishops and metropolitans (heads of archdioceses), diocesan bishops, vicars and prefects apostolic (heads of vicariates apostolic and prefectures apostolic), certain abbots and prelates, and apostolic administrators. Each of these, within his respective territory and according to the provisions of canon law, has ordinary jurisdiction over pastors (who are responsible for the administration of parishes), priests, religious and lay persons.

Simply put, an archbishop is a bishop with the title of an archdiocese. An archdiocese, as noted, is merely a larger diocese; it assists in the governance of a wider territory (such as Chicago, Paris, New York, and even Omaha). As it is larger and more influential than a diocese, the ecclesiastical territory brings with a higher ecclesiastical title, specifically as an archdiocese, and its shepherd is termed an archbishop.

A Metropolitan Archbishop (which I believe Archbishop Lucas will become) is the archbishop of the principal see, an archdiocese, in an ecclesiastical province consisting of several dioceses. He has the full powers of bishop in his own archdiocese and limited supervisory jurisdiction and influence over the other (suffragan) dioceses in the province. The pallium, conferred by the pope, is the symbol of his status as a metropolitan.

I hope this helps!


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