The title of archbishop ( arché ore from the Greek αρχή, beginning ',' leadership ', in the derived meaning " upper ", and Bishop of επίσκοπος EPISKOPOS, overseers ') is carried in Christian churches by bishops with particular official position. Which Bishops may have the title, is regulated differently from church to church. The following cases can be distinguished in the Roman Catholic Church:

  • Official title of Metropolitans, who heads a church province
  • Bishop who heads a archdiocese, but not an ecclesiastical province
  • Bishop, who has been awarded the honorary title by the Pope

According to German log bishops and archbishops are addressed with the title " Your Excellency ".

Historical origin

In the third and fourth centuries, gradually formed associations of dioceses out whose head was usually referred to as " Metropolitan ", because he was usually the bishop of the capital ( "Metropolis " ) of a Roman province ( an exception to this form existed, for example in the province of Africa ). The Council of Nicea mentioned that these associations were again grouped into organizational forms, namely, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome Opel. Along with Jerusalem, these large churches were named in the 5th century as patriarchates. For the bishop of Alexandria in the 4th century is the first time the term " archbishop " ( ἀρχιεπίσκοπος ) survived. " Archbishop " therefore is a title, not an official name (that would be " Metropolitan "). By the time the title was worn by more and more bishops, while the leaders of the Episcopal Church called metropolitan areas were called patriarchs. In the churches with Byzantine tradition, there are still archbishops, the heads of autocephalous - ie independent self-employed - churches are.

Prerogative of the metropolitans or archbishops has always been the conscription law for provincial synods, so Bishop meetings in its consular district, as well as the confirmation, sometimes setting up his suffragan bishops. At no time the Metropolitans had the right, in the dressing her hineinzuregieren belonging to dioceses.

The understanding of the title and its legal structure evolved differently in the East and West. Since the Carolingian period were in the West particularly distinguished bishops who were not metropolitan, appointed Archbishop, partly because of the importance of their diocese, partly because they took a particular ministry, such as that of a legate or nuncio.

Archbishops who are metropolitans, take in the Roman Catholic Church the pallium as a sign of special communion with the Pope. In the Eastern Churches the pallium the appropriate liturgical garment ( omophorion ) is worn by all bishops.

Archbishops in the Catholic Church

The title of archbishop wear in the Roman Catholic Church

  • The Metropolitan as the Resident Bishop of the Metropolitan seat ( can. 435 CIC)
  • The resident bishop of the archdiocese, which is not a metropolitan see. For historical reasons, it may ecclesiastical provinces with several archdioceses give (such as the Ecclesiastical Province of Pesaro with the Archdiocese of Pesaro and Urbino). The residential bishops there each carrying the title of archbishop, but only one of them is also Metropolitan. There are also archdioceses such as Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Vaduz, which belong to no church province, but reports directly to the Apostolic See are (immediate dioceses ). Even the bishops have the title Archbishop, but are not metropolitans.
  • Titular bishops on a Titulardiözese with the Archbishop rank. This primarily includes Curia officials like the Secretaries of the Congregations and the Nuncios.
  • (Old) diocesan bishops who have been awarded this title personally ( archbishops ad personam ), for example, earned diocesan bishops in retirement. If a titular bishop of a diocese ordinary, it retains usually the title of archbishop. If a titular bishop named archbishop, he is, however, offset to a Titularerzdiözese; he maintains them exceptionally so one does not speak of appointment as Archbishop ad personam, but by collecting the Titulardiözese archdiocese per hac vice.

In the Old Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Utrecht Metropolitan of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands and at the same time ex officio President of the International Bishops Conference of the Union of Utrecht.

Archbishops in other churches

In the Anglican Communion and in Lutheran churches in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Russia archbishops line function.

In the Orthodox Church, the Archbishop is basically below the rank of metropolitan. Only in the Greek Orthodox churches of the Archbishop is the Metropolitan priority.