- Dean (religion)
A dean, in a church context, is a
clericholding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy. It is used mainly in the Anglican Communionand the Catholic Church.
The title "dean" is conferred upon a the pastor of a parish who serves as a senior figure, though usually without specific jurisdictional authority, over a section of a diocese. [cite web|accessdate=2007-02-17|work=
Catholic Encyclopedia|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04659a.htm|title=Dean] These are sometimes referred to as "rural deans," and are expected to show a degree of leadership among the pastors of the region, known as a deanery. This function is sometimes titled vicar forane. An episcopal vicarserves a similar function, but has more formal authority and specific powers under Canon Law.
In recent years, the
Catholic Churchin England and Wales has introduced the custom of designating Cathedral Deans, formerly known as Cathedral Administrators. However, the term differs slightly from the Anglican usage as Catholic Deans do not necessarily preside over the cathedral chapter(this function belonging to the office of Provost), and are not necessarily required even to be a member of the chapter. More commonly, in places throughout the world where a cathedral chapter has not been erected (as for instance, in the United States, where there are no chapters at all), the term Rectoris used for the priest who serves as chief administrator of a cathedral church.
Another important use of the term within the Catholic Church is in the office of the
Dean of the College of Cardinals, who serves as senior member of that body. Cardinal Angelo Sodano is the current dean.
Church of Englandand elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, the dean is the chief resident cleric of a cathedralor other collegiate churchand the head of the chapter of canons. If the cathedral or collegiate church has its own parish, the dean is usually also rectorof the parish. However, in the Church of Irelandthe roles are often separated, and most cathedrals in the Church of Englanddo not have associated parishes. In the Church in Wales, however, most cathedrals are parish churches, and their deans are now also vicars of their parishes.
In some parts of the Communion (particularly in the
Scottish Episcopal Churchand, formerly in some cathedrals in England), the senior resident cleric in a cathedral is a provost. Each dioceseof the Scottish Episcopal Church has a "dean of the diocese", this is a cleric who, rather than heading the cathedral staff, assists the bishopin the administration of the diocese. In this way, a Scottish Episcopalian dean is similar to an archdeaconin the other member churches of the Communion (a post that does not exist in the Scottish church). In the Anglican Church of Canada, the roles of senior cleric of the cathedral are combined in one person who is referred to as "Rector of Cathedral and Dean of Diocese". Thus, Peter Elliottis Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of New Westminster.
The style "The
Very Reverend" distinguishes a cleric as a dean (or a cathedral provost). For example, the Very Reverend June Osborneis Dean of Salisbury Cathedral.
Some important deans include the deans of St Paul's, the Canterbury and
Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a royal peculiar, not the seat of any bishop or a cathedral, but is led by a dean. The deans Washington National Cathedraland St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublinare likewise important clerics in their churches.
In many parts of the Anglican Communion,
parishes are grouped together to form deaneries, each being a constituent administrative district of the diocese. Usually, a deanery is led by one of the incumbents of the deanery's parishes, who is called a "rural dean", but in more urban areas this has often been replaced by the title "area dean" or "regional dean". Such a dean chairs the meeting of the deanery's clergy (which, like a cathedral, is called a chapter), and may also chair a deanery synod. Rural Deans (and those known by alternative titles) rank as primi inter pares of their chapters, and do not have the seniority of cathedral or diocesan deans.
The head of an Anglican theological college or
seminarymay also be called a dean (in common with its use in education).
A subdean serves as a dean's deputy.
United Methodist Christians often speak of a "Dean" in terms of the Dean of the Cabinet. Every Annual Conference has a "Bishop's Cabinet" made up of the District Superintendents under the Bishop's appointment, as well as occasionally a few other conference officials. One of these Superintendents is chosen by his/her colleagues to serve as the "Dean," usually for one year. This Dean then has certain administrative and leadership responsibilities, and is accountable to the Bishop.
In various other religious denominations, the title, "dean" may be used informally in its wider sense of a senior or venerated member of a congregation. The title may also used in its academic sense in parochial schools.
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