A territorial prelate is, in
Catholicusage, a prelatewhose geographic jurisdiction, called territorial prelature, does not belonging to any dioceseand is considered a particular church.
The territorial prelate is sometimes called a prelate "nullius", from the Latin "nullius diœceseos", prelate "of no diocese," meaning the territory falls directly under the jurisdiction of the
popeand is not a diocese under a residing bishop.
The term is also used in a generic sense, and may then equally refer to an
apostolic prefecture, and apostolic vicariateor a territorial abbacy(see there).
A territorial prelate exercises quasi-episcopal jurisdiction in a territory not comprised in any diocese. The origin of such prelates must necessarily be sought in the Apostolic privileges, for only he whose authority is superior to that of bishops can grant an exemption from episcopal jurisdiction. Such exemption, therefore, comes only from the Pope.
The rights of prelates "nullius" are quasi-episcopal, and these dignitaries are supposed to have any power that a bishop has, unless it is expressly denied to them by canonical law. When they have not received
episcopal consecration, such prelates may not confer holy orders, but they have the privilege (if they are abbots and priests) of advancing candidates to tonsureand minor orders. If not consecrated episcopally, they have not the power to exercise those functions of consecrating oils, etc., which are referred to the episcopal order only analogously.
Prelates nullius may take cognizance of matrimonial causes within the same limits as a bishop; they may dispense from the proclamation of matrimonial banns, grant faculties for hearing confessions and preaching, reserve certain cases to themselves, publish
indulgences and jubilees, exercise full jurisdiction over the enclosure of nuns, and invite any bishop to confirm in their quasi-diocese.
These prelates may not, however, without special permission of the
Holy See, convoke a synodor institute synodal examiners. Neither may they confer parochial benefices. They are not allowed to grant indulgences, or absolve from the reserved casesand secret irregularities whose absolution is restricted to the pope ordinarily, but allowed to bishops by the Council of Trent; nor promote secular clerics to orders, nor grant dimissorial letters for ordination, nor exercise jurisdiction over regulars as Apostolic delegates.
Prelates nullius are, however, bound to residence, to preach the Word of God, to offer up Mass for their people, to make the
visit ad limina, and in concurrence with the neighbouring bishop to make a visitationof their quasi-diocese.
The only prelate nullius in the United States was (is?) the Abbot of
Maryhelp, Belmont, North Carolina.
List of nominal territorial prelatures
In April 2006, there were 48, all of the Roman (i.e Latin) Rite:
Italy: Loreto, Pompei
France: Mission de France
Lithuania: Klaipėda= Lietuva
Norway: Tromsø, Trondheim
In Latin America
Argentina: Cafayate, Deán Funes, Humahuaca
Bolivia: Aiquile, Corocoro
Brazil: Borba, Cameta, Coari, Cristalândia, Itacoatiara, Itaituba, Lábrea, Marajó, Óbidos, Paranatinga, São Félix, Tefé, Xingu
Chile: Calama, Illapel
Guatemala: Santo Cristo de Esquípulas
Mexico: Cancún–Chetumal, El Salto, Huautla, Jesús María, Mixes
Panama: Bocas del Toro
Peru: Ayaviri, Caravelí, Chota, Chuquibamba, Chuquibambilla, Huamachuco, Juli, Moyobamba, Sicuani, Yauyos
ources and references
* [http://www.gcatholic.com/dioceses/data/typeprel.htm GigaCatholic]
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