What is an Archdeacon?

What is an archdeacon? Are they as the name implies part of the diaconate, but higher? Can they have a wife and children?

Are there still archdeacons in the Catholic Church? In Protestant churches that retain this title, an archdeacon is a kind of intermediate rank between a bishop and the pastors in charge of the parishes in his diocese. Something like an auxiliary bishop.

The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen, Patron of both retired Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishops of Philadelphia:

To answer your question: An Archdeacon is generally stationed at the cathedral and is in charge of the Hierarchical Liturgy and other Divine Services (a la a master of ceremonies). He assists the bishop in any way.


Is he still a deacon or is he know a priest?

Archdeacons are invariably priests. I’m not absolutely certain about this, but I seem to recall that the only Latin Rite Catholic archdeacons are now Irish.

Surely you jest! What about Eastern Catholic Archdeacons?!?

St. Stephen was martyred in the 1st century A.D.

Re the four deacons in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia: I don’t know.

Sorry, I meant Latin Rite archdeacons. As I understand it, Latin and Eastern archdeacons serve somewhat different functions.


Eastern Archdeacons are Deacons who assist the Bishop, and are usually in charge of Cathedral as mentioned above.

In Latin Rite, function used to be the same as in Eastern Rites. However, over the time Bishops would send Archdeacons to act on their behalf and hence they had power even over Priests. Fast-forward some time later and Archdeacons are actually ordained Presbyters and hold authority akin to Bishops. They were either subordinate to Bishops, but very often they held power similar to Bishops and supervised something similar to Diocese. Council of Trent abolished those rights and with introduction of “Vicar-General”, effectively killed this part of Latin Archdeaconate. Nowadays title of Archdeacon is honorary title conferred on members of Cathedral Chapters… presumably only Deacons but I am not sure if Priests are actually forbidden to hold this title.

1 Like

Yes, Ireland does have archdeacons. Invariably, though, they are priests. I think nowadays it’s simply an honorary title just as monsignor or canon confers no powers, they’re just titles.

You can read all about 'em in the link below. It seems after Trent they were pretty much replaced by the office of vicar-general as another poster mentioned above.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.