Why Do Bishops Receive Titular Sees?

A graduate of the St. Thomas Pontifical University in Rome, Ashur Soro has served as a religious leader for more than three decades. As vicar general of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Saint Peter the Apostle, Ashur Soro maintains the position of titular bishop of Foraziana.

Typically, the term “bishop” refers to an individual who acts as the head of a group of worshipers that follow such faiths as Catholicism or Orthodoxy. All bishops are ordained to serve a particular diocese, and thus work as either functional or auxiliary leaders of an active community. There are, however, those bishops who receive appointment to a different type of diocese known as a titular see. These dioceses are unique in that they are no longer active. Though they once represented thriving communities of Christian worshipers, titular sees largely disbanded due to Muslim or Orthodox occupation.

Why, then, do modern bishops receive appointment to these non-active titular sees? In short, it is due to a disproportionate number of bishops and available dioceses. As such, it is common for many bishops to serve as auxiliary heads of diocese. However, these individuals must still represent some diocese as its official head. The church will, therefore, appoint them as bishops of titular sees. This gives the church the opportunity to award each bishop his own title while also recognizing a long-extinct diocese.

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