An ecclesiastic appointed by the bishop of the diocese to assist him in matters of administration.

In matters of jurisdiction the vicar general is regarded as the ordinary, and his tribunal is identical with that of the bishop, so that there is no appeal from the one to the other. But he is bound to keep carefully within the limits of his commission; thus he may not do any of those things which come under the definition of “Pontificalia,” and belong to the episcopal order, such as making the holy oils, consecrating churches, altars, chalices, etc. Nor may he decide anything without a special mandate, which it may be reasonably presumed the bishop could not have intended to entrust to him by his general commission. For instance, although his commission warrants him to do all formal acts required in the institution of ecclesiastics to benefices, offices, or dignities, it does not authorize him to confer any of these; to do so lawfully he must have a special mandate. He cannot summon a synod, nor visit the diocese; “and generally, in business of an arduous and weighty nature, he cannot act without consulting the bishop.” The powers of a vicar-general cease when his commission is cancelled by the bishop; upon his resignation; when, from whatever cause, the bishop’s own jurisdiction in the diocese ceases.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “Vicar General”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 November 2019. Web. 17 October 2021. <>