UNDERSTANDING A TITULAR DIOCESE IN SIMPLE LANGUAGE
Following our earlier post on the title Monsignor used for Bishops, a reader wanted to whether the new Auxiliary Bishops would have an oversight responsibility in their titular dioceses? Below is a short response in simple language so all might grasp what is at stake.
“Titular” here means “non existent”. So a Titular Diocese is a diocese that does not exist anymore…it only exists on paper (in the archive list of dioceses at the Vatican). It existed in the past (many years or centuries ago) but today it cannot be found…it’s no longer physically there.
This happens and it can actually happen. For instance, let’s imagine 700 years or 1,000 years from now (in the year 3023)….it could happen that some of our current dioceses might no longer exist…maybe because they would have been joined to bigger ones because of drastic decrease in Catholics in the future or maybe the cities or towns would have been changed geographically or maybe they would have been divided into smaller dioceses because of huge growth in Catholic populations, etc.
These and others are the reasons why some dioceses that existed, say in 745 AD, do not exist today. However, Vatican keeps the records and list them under “Titular Dioceses”. And in order to “keep their memory”, they are assigned/given to Bishops who do not directly look after a diocese…these include Auxiliary Bishops, Apostolic Nuncios, Bishops who work in offices at the Vatican, etc.
This is also done because the word “Bishop” means “overseer”. What does he “oversee”…a place. So, every Bishop is given a place (diocese) to “oversee” even if it is now a non existent place…like a titular diocese.
By: Fr. Anthony Agnes Adu-Mensah