Dean (religion)

The dean or dean with Erstsilbenbetonung (from Latin decem, ten) is in the Roman Catholic Church of the leader of a group of priests. The general Catholic canon law called:

In addition, there are in the particular law of many dioceses especially in Germany yet:

Also in the Anglican Church as Dean and in some Protestant churches, there is the official title of dean. The Protestant deans essentially fulfill the same tasks as the superintendent in the other national churches.

The following sections relate to the Dean as head of the priesthood of several parishes.

Assignments, duties and office management

If it was otherwise provided in the Diocese of law, rests with the diocesan bishop the appointment of the dean, where he must seek the advice of the priests working in the affected deanery. In many dioceses the office of the dean is subject to certain parishes. Appointed by the bishop for such a new pastor, this is automatically Dechant. If this is not the case, the bishop may appoint any priest of the diocese to the dean. Then he can limit the exercise of the office in time. ( The transfer of a parish takes place, in contrast, always for life or until voluntary resignation. )

Tasks of the dean in accordance with CIC:

  • Coordination and promotion of the common pastoral activity within the deanery,
  • Supervision of the clerics of his district, so that they fulfill their duties conscientiously and maintain a reasonable lifestyle for priests,
  • To ensure that the services are held in accordance with the provisions of the liturgy that the churches and sacred vessels are kept in good condition and that the consecrated hosts are kept neat,
  • Control of the church books as well as asset and property management in the individual parishes,
  • The priests to attend theological training, retreats and stop like.

The diocesan bishops can also transfer other tasks their deans. The defined in the CIC rights and duties characterizing the dean but primarily as a supervisory body of the bishop, on whose instructions he - is bound in full - like all other diocesan priests. Deans do not have a power of jurisdiction, but always act on behalf of the bishop.

The dean visitiert regularly on behalf of the Bishop, the parishes of his diocese. In the pastoral work various bodies formed of priests and lay him standing in the dioceses of the German-speaking area to the side: Priest and Pastoral ( The latter includes not only the clergy, other full-time church employees), including the Dekanatsrat; in these parishes send the selected lay people as their representatives. Depending on the size and financial strength of the dioceses of the dean has a number of employees who are paid from the diocesan budget and have special responsibilities in pastoral or ecclesiastical administration. At a deanery usually include 8 to 15 parishes. In densely populated Catholic areas of several deaneries are combined to form the city or county deaneries.

Historical development

Early Christianity was initially an urban religion. Almost in every Roman city Christian communities were formed until the beginning of the 4th century, which were each headed by a bishop. At his church had the respective bishop a college of priests, presbytery, which supported him in the celebration of the liturgy and pastoral care. The rural areas remained pagan long. The nascent dioceses of the time were often passed in approximately congruent with the political communities municipia that of the city itself and a larger surrounding area ( interspersed with villages, villas and hamlets ).

At the latest with the elevation of Christianity as the state religion by Emperor Theodosius I, the Christian religion spread increasingly from the flat lands. Many priests were now permanently active in the country, where they had their own churches. Parishes arose. In the turmoil of the Migration then disappeared many cities, and with them the old bishoprics. The remaining bishops now had to manage large territories. It therefore became necessary to appoint agents, who controlled on behalf of the respective bishop, the work of the pastor.

This new office was called differently in different regions and also the tasks varied in part. But in the 4th century was clarified in the east at various synods that these new officials were allowed to have no jurisdiction rights so that the powers of the bishops would not be restricted. Thus the Synod of Laodicea ( 380) abolished the so-called Chorepiskopoi (German choir bishops or rural bishops ) and replaced it with Periodeutai. These were priests, corresponded to their tasks and their relation to the bishop almost exactly those in the present dean.

In the Latin -speaking part of the Roman Empire and its successor states, the assistant to the bishop were called decanus. The title is related to decurio. This was in Roman times a military subordinate commanders, the soldiers were under ten. (Even the dean was and still is responsible for about ten parishes. )

In the Frankish Empire, which was dominated entirely rural and feudal, promoted Emperor Charles the Great spread the Dean's Office in order to better control so through the Church, the wide open spaces of his kingdom can. In the West, the choir bishops were abolished ( synods of Paris and Aachen, 829 or 836) in the 9th century and replaced by archdeacons, who had a mean level of administration between bishops and deans since. The latter were called in many dioceses also archpriest. So, for example, divided the diocese Meissen in Archidiakonate, which in turn were associated with some Erzpriestersitze.

To better link to the bishop but also the financial security of officers, the deans and Archidiakonate were often associated with well-endowed Kanonikaten the cathedral chapter or in Kollegiatkapiteln.

Until the codification of canon law in the Code of Canon Law of 1917, the rights and obligations of the deans were described almost exclusively in the Partikularechten the dioceses. Only in the last century there was a certain degree of uniformity, which then in Can. 553 of the new CIC ( 1983) also found its canonical precipitation.