A Papal Legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title
Legatus– is a personal representative of the Popeto Foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiasticalmatters.
The legate is appointed directly by the Pope (the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church). Hence a legate is usually sent to a government, a sovereign or to a large body of believers (such as a national church) or to take charge of a major religious effort, such as an ecumenical council, a crusade to the Holy Land, or even against a heresy such as the
Cathars. The authority of the Pope to appoint and choose the legates has been contested several times in history.fact|date=February 2008
The term "legation" is applied both to a legate's mandate and to the territory concerned (such as a state, or an ecclesiastical province). The relevant adjective is "legatine".
There are several ranks of papal legates, some of which no longer exist today:
The most common form of Papal Legate today is the Apostolic Nuncio, whose task it is to strengthen relations between the
Holy Seeand the Roman Catholic Churchin a particular country and at the same time to act as the diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the government of that country.
For nations with which the Holy See has no diplomatic ties, an Apostolic Delegate is sent to serve as a liaison with the Roman Catholic Church in that nation, though not accredited to the government of the state (see
Legatus a Latere
This highest rank (literally "from the (Pope's) side", i.e. "intimately" trusted) – awarded to a cardinal – is exceptional and usually very brief. He is the alter ego of the Pope, as though the Pope himself were present.
Literally "born legate", i.e. not nominated individually but ex officio, namely a bishop holding this rank as a privilege of his see.
Literally "sent legate", refers by contrast to a specific task ("mission")
Some administrative (temporal) provinces of the
Papal Statesin central Italy were governed by a papal legate.
In four cases, including
Bologna, this post was awarded to Cardinals; the Velletripost was created for Bartolomeo Cardinal Pacca.
Nuncio– an envoy whose diplomatic status is recognized by the receiving state – usually a titular archbishop.
Internuncio– a lower rank than Nuncio for a papal diplomatic representative, a title historically used at a time when states sent to some less important countries diplomatic representatives, called Envoys or Ministers, lower in rank than Ambassadors.
List of papal legates to England
[http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09118a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Legate]
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