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Covering the Local Church



Other Vicars

“Vicar”—from a Latin word for “substitute”—is used in a variety of contexts

in the Catholic Church, mainly to refer to officials who can substitute for a

bishop in his various duties. In addition to the vicars general, episcopal vic-

ars and judicial vicars mentioned above, “vicar” can be used for various offi-

cials in diocesan offices who are charged with overseeing a particular region

or ministry or other function on behalf of the bishop. Examples are vicar for

priests, vicar for religious, vicar for Spanish-speaking Catholics, regional vicar,

vicar for ethnic ministries. In each case, the person holding the title acts as the

bishop’s chief representative in a particular region of the diocese, particular

area of ministry, or oversight over ministries. Some dioceses divide their geo-

graphic regions as


, assigning a vicar to head each one.

Financial Officer and Council

A bishop is required to have a financial officer and financial council. For dioc-

esan financial transactions exceeding a certain amount, he must consult with

the council; at a higher threshold, he must have the council’s consent; at a still

higher threshold, he must obtain consent from the Vatican. These figures have

come into prominent news play several times in recent years in bankruptcy

protection dealings by several U.S. dioceses to settle lawsuits over the sexual

abuse of minors by clergy, including a notable case in which the Boston arch-

diocesan financial council rejected a proposed settlement that required its

approval. The dollar amounts for each threshold have been set by the USCCB

with confirmation by the Vatican, but over the years they have changed.

Other Typical DiocesanOffices

Most dioceses will also have offices for some or all of the following:

• Catholic Charities and/or social services.

• Catholic schools.

• Religious education.

• Evangelization.

• Liturgy or worship.

• Communications.

• Pro-life activities.

• Ecumenical and interreligious relations.