The Info List - Diocese

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The word DIOCESE (/ˈdaɪ.ə.sɪs/ ) is derived from the Greek term _διοίκησις_ meaning "administration". When now used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to a territorial unit of administration. In the Western Church, the district is under the supervision of a bishop (who may have assistant bishops to help him or her) and is divided into parishes under the care of priests; but in the Eastern Church, the word denotes the area under the jurisdiction of a patriarch and the bishops under his jurisdiction administer parishes. This structure of church governance is known as episcopal polity .

The word DIOCESAN means relating or pertaining to a diocese. It can also be used as a noun meaning the bishop who has the principal supervision of a diocese. A diocese also may be referred to as a _BISHOPRIC_ or _episcopal see _, though strictly the term _episcopal see_ refers to the domain of ecclesiastical authority officially held by the bishop, and the term _bishopric_ to the post of being bishop.

An ARCHDIOCESE (or ARCHIEPISCOPAL SEE or ARCHBISHOPRIC) is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or have had importance due to size or historical significance. The archbishop may have metropolitan authority over any other suffragan bishops and their dioceses within his ecclesiastical province .

In the Latter Day Saint movement , the term "bishopric" is used to describe the bishop himself, together with his two counselors, not the ward or congregation of which a bishop has charge.

Especially in the Middle Ages, some bishops (e.g. prince-bishops ) held political as well as religious authority within their dioceses, which in practice were thus independent or semi-independent states. Two vestiges of this remain: the Catholic Pope
is, _ex officio_, the monarch of the State of Vatican City and the (Catholic) Bishop
of Urgell, Spain, is, _ex officio_, the Spanish Co-Prince of the Co-Principality of Andorra
, which is located entirely within his diocese. (The French Co-Prince of the Co-Principality of Andorra
is, _ex officio_, the President of France.)


* 1 History * 2 Catholic Church
Catholic Church
* 3 Eastern Orthodox Church * 4 Church of England and Anglican Communion

* 5 Lutheranism

* 5.1 Germany and Nordic countries * 5.2 Lutheranism in the USA

* 6 Church of God in Christ

* 7 Churches that have bishops, but not dioceses

* 7.1 Methodism

* 8 Churches that have neither bishops nor dioceses

* 8.1 Presbyterians

* 8.1.1 Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland

* 8.2 Congregationals

* 8.2.1 Churches of Christ

* 8.3 Baptists * 8.4 Continental Reformed churches

* 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 Sources and external links


See also: Bishops and civil government

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Dioceses of the Roman Empire, 400 AD

In the later organization of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, the increasingly subdivided provinces were administratively associated in a larger unit, the diocese ( Latin
_dioecesis_, from the Greek term _διοίκησις_, meaning "administration").

With the adoption of Christianity as the Empire's official religion in the 4th century , the clergy assumed official positions of authority alongside the civil governors. A formal church hierarchy was set up, parallel to the civil administration, whose areas of responsibility often coincided.

With the collapse of the Western Empire in the 5th century , the bishops in Western Europe assumed a large part of the role of the former Roman governors. A similar, though less pronounced, development occurred in the East, where the Roman administrative apparatus was largely retained by the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
. In modern times, many dioceses, though later subdivided, have preserved the boundaries of a long-vanished Roman administrative division. For Gaul, Bruce Eagles has observed that "it has long been an academic commonplace in France that the medieval dioceses, and their constituent _pagi _, were the direct territorial successors of the Roman _civitates _.

Modern usage of 'diocese' tends to refer to the sphere of a bishop's jurisdiction. This became commonplace during the self-conscious "classicizing" structural evolution of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, but this usage had itself been evolving from the much earlier _parochia_ ("parish "), dating from the increasingly formalised Christian authority structure in the 4th century.


Further information: List of Catholic dioceses (alphabetical) and List of Catholic dioceses (structured view)

As of January 2015 , in the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
there are 2,851 regular dioceses: 1 papal see , 641 archdioceses (including 9 patriarchates , 4 major archdioceses, 551 metropolitan archdioceses, 77 single archdioceses) and 2,209 dioceses in the world.

In the Eastern rites in communion with the Pope
, the equivalent unit is called an _eparchy _.


Further information: List of Eastern Orthodox bishops and archbishops

Eastern Orthodoxy calls dioceses METROPOLEIS in the Greek tradition or EPARCHIES in the Slavic tradition.


Further information: List of Anglican Communion dioceses St Patrick\'s Cathedral , the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Armagh in the Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland

After the Reformation , the Church of England retained the existing diocesan structure which remains throughout the Anglican Communion . The one change is that the areas administered under the Archbishop
of Canterbury and Archbishop
of York are properly referred to as provinces, not archdioceses. This usage is relatively common in the Anglican Communion.


Further information: List of Lutheran dioceses and archdioceses


Certain Lutheran
denominations such as the Church of Sweden
do have individual dioceses similar to Roman Catholics. These dioceses and archdioceses are under the government of a bishop (see Archbishop
of Uppsala ). Other Lutheran
bodies and synods that have dioceses and bishops include the Church of Denmark , the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland , the Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
(partially), and the Church of Norway
Church of Norway


Some American Lutheran
church bodies such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America do have a bishop acting as the head of the synod, but the synod does not have dioceses and archdioceses as the churches listed above. Rather, it is divided into a middle judicatory .

The Lutheran
Church - International , based in Springfield, Illinois , presently uses a traditional diocesan structure, with four dioceses in North America
North America
. Its current president is Archbishop
Robert W. Hotes.


The Church of God in Christ (_COGIC_) has dioceses throughout the United States. In the COGIC, each state is divided up into at least three dioceses that are all led by a bishop, but some states as many as seven dioceses. These dioceses are called "_Jurisdictions._"



See also: Methodist Circuit and Episcopal area (United Methodist Church)

In the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
(the United States and some other countries), a bishop is given oversight over a geographical area called an episcopal area . Each episcopal area contains one or more annual conferences , which is how the churches and clergy under the bishop's supervision are organized. Thus, the use of the term "diocese" referring to geography is the most equivalent in the United Methodist Church, whereas each annual conference is part of one episcopal area (though that area may contain more than one conference). The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a similar structure to the United Methodist Church, also using the Episcopal Area. Note that the bishops govern the church as a single bench.

In the British Methodist Church and Irish Methodist Church , the closest equivalent to a diocese is the \'circuit\' . Each local church belongs to a circuit, and the circuit is overseen by a superintendent minister who has pastoral charge of all the circuit churches (though in practice he or she delegates such charge to other presbyters who each care for a section of the circuit and chair the local church meetings as deputies of the superintendent). This echoes the practice of the early church where the bishop was supported by a bench of presbyters