Owing to the dependence of the jurisdiction of the vicar on that of the bishop, it ceases or is impeded with the latter.When, however, the vicar is acting in a special case as a strict delegate, he may even then finish the cause he had begun.
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By the eleventh century, the jurisdiction of archdeacons had become ordinary and stable. The institution of vicars-general greatly limited the powers of the archdeacons, and finally the latter officials were reduced by the Council of Trent (Sess. xii, "De ref.") to mere honorary dignitaries in cathedral chapters.
They had courts of first instance, and, besides their contentious jurisdiction, they had wide administrative powers, so much so indeed that they became obnoxious to the legitimate exercise of the bishop's authority. According to the present discipline, the vicar-general is deputed by the bishop to exercise the latter's jurisdiction with a certain universality of power.
All of the above require a special mandate by explicit law, but others of a similar nature, according to canonists, also require this mandate.
They are: to suppress, unite, or divide benefices, to admit resignations for the purpose of exchanging benefices, to convoke a diocesan synod, to erect monasteries and confraternities.
He is a cleric legitimately deputed to exercise generally the episcopal jurisdiction in the name of the bishop, so that his acts are reputed the acts of the bishop himself.
The wide powers of administration now enjoyed by the vicar-general belonged formerly to the archdeacon.The jurisdiction of a vicar-general, according to most canonists, is of a class by itself between ordinary and delegated, and it may be called quasi-ordinary, because, on the one hand, it is connected with a certain office by legal enactment and, on the other, it is exercised not in his own, but another's name.As ordinary jurisdiction, however, is always exercised by him as a matter of fact, there is no reason why his power should not be called ordinary.By virtue of a general mandate, the vicar-general exercises ordinary jurisdiction in the name of the bishop, but for some causes he needs a special mandate.These are: to make a visitation of the diocese, to confer benefices of free collation, to punish the excesses of clerics or remove them from their benefices or offices, to use the bishop's Tridentine faculties of dispensation and suspension, to concede dimissorial letters for receiving orders.The jurisdiction of the vicar-general is necessarily universal in the whole diocese, both for persons and causes, with a universality, however, not absolute, but moral, and therefore, though the bishop can restrict it both as to places and causes, he cannot so limit it that it ceases to be general, at least morally.