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An archbishop (from Greek ἀρχι-, chief, and ἐπίσκοπος, bishop) is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest (presbyter) and bishop. Accordingly, one does not become an archbishop by ordination.


Western Christianity

Metropolitan archbishops

Episcopal sees are generally arranged in groups in which the bishop who is the ordinary of one of them has certain powers and duties of oversight over the other sees. He is known as the metropolitan archbishop of that see. In the Roman Catholic Church, canon 436 of the Code of Canon Law indicates what these powers and duties are for a Latin Rite metropolitan archbishop, while those of the head of an autonomous (sui iuris) Eastern Catholic Church are indicated in canon 157 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Non-metropolitan archiepiscopal sees

As well as the much more numerous metropolitan sees, there are 75 Roman Catholic sees that have archiepiscopal rank.[1] In some cases, such a see is the only one in a country, such as Luxembourg[2] or Monaco,[3] too small to be divided into several dioceses so as to form an ecclesiastical province. In others, the title of archdiocese is for historical reasons attributed to a see that was once of greater importance.

Some of these archdioceses are suffragans of a metropolitan archdiocese. An example is the Archdiocese of Avignon, which is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Marseille,[4] Others are immediately subject to the Holy See and not to any metropolitan archdiocese. These are usually "aggregated" to an ecclesiastical province. An example is the Archdiocese of Hobart in Australia, associated with the Metropolitan ecclesiastical province of Melbourne, but not part of it.[5]

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