CHORBISHOP chorepiscopus

CHORBISHOP chorepiscopus. Literally bishop of the chora, i.e., the countryside, thus a suburban bishop in villages, in suburbs, among nomadic populations. The ancient city, including during the time of the Roman Empire, retained some characteristics of the city-state, with a more or less vast territory dependent on it; bishops normally resided only in the inhabited centers recognized as cities, and the entire extraurban territory was under him, without subdivision of the diocese. In the larger dioceses the pastoral figure of the chorbishop arose from the late 3rd c. in Asia Minor, but it also spread to other regions, such as Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt and Armenia, i.e., in regions where the municipal system was less extensive. The first known chorbishop is Zoticus, of the village of Comana Pamphylia, called village bishop Eusebius, HE 5,16,17; next was the martyr Athenogenes during Diocletian’s persecution in 303, in the Cappadocian village of Pedachtoe. Some 15 chorbishops were present at the Council of Nicaea, all from Asia Minor and Syria. Since this ministry varied according to place and time, it has long been discussed whether the chorbishop was always a bishop, or only sometimes, or never. Current opinion holds that he was a bishop who could exercise all of the related functions but who in reality was limited by canonical legislation, which in the course of the 4th c. intervened increasingly to specify their functions, subordinating them to the bishops of the cities. The Council of Ancyra of 314 establishes: A cleric must not be ordained by a chorbishop without the consent of the bishop. Chorbishops may not ordain presbyters or deacons, but neither can presbyters of the city without the written permission of the bishop of each diocese can. 13. Not long after, the Council of Neocaesarea in Pontus can. 14 mentions them but does not further specify their function. That of Antioch of 341 can. 10 delimits their function at length and says: Though they have received the ordination proper to bishops, they can ordain subdeacons, exorcists and lectors. At the Council of Serdica of 343, ordination of bishops is prohibited in villages where a presbyter would suffice can. 6. Basil of Caesarea had some 50 chorbishops in his dependency, spread throughout his vast diocese of Cappadocia, to whom he writes a letter on the selection of clergy and their requirements Ep. 54; for the number, see Gregory of Nazianzus: PG 37, 1060. The canons of Laodicea are from these years, and they establish that bishops must not be installed in villages or in the countryside, but only visitors. Regarding bishops already established in those areas, they must not do anything without the consent of the bishop of the city. Likewise, presbyters cannot do anything without the consent of the bishop of the city can. 57. Therefore, though the chorbishop had episcopal powers, his authority was reduced to a dependency on the bishop of the city, i.e., he was like a periodeuta. The two institutions, chorbishop and periodeuta, responded to the same needs of a vast diocese in which there were Christian villages. From the 5th c., chorbishops decreased in number, but they were present at the ecumenical Councils of Ephesus 431 and Chalcedon 451. Nicaea II 785 allows them only the ordination of lectors can. 2, with express authorization. There were chorbishops among the Nestorians until the 13th c., and in the Orthodox Church of Syria and among the Maronites they still exist. In the West we do not have the term, but something like it exists; e.g., Antoninus of Fussala, ordained by Augustine, exercised that ministry, since the territory of the diocese of Hippo was quite vast and in some villages Punic was spoken. The prescription of the Council of Serdica, that in the countryside a presbyter was sufficient can. 6, was adhered to; thus bishops should not be ordained for small centers Leo Gt., Ep. 12,10: PL 54, 654. The letters of Popes Damasus Jaff 244 and Leo the Great, which speak of chorbishops, are from a later period. In the early 5th c., an Eugraphus is chorbishop at Manastirine Salona; DACL 3,1444; in Gaul the first known case is from the Council of Riez of 439, when a bishop was downgraded and given that title DACL 3,1443. The ministry of the chorbishop flourished esp. among the Franks, since the dioceses were very vast and chorbishops became very important. Willibrord and Boniface had chorbishops for missionary service. In the early Middle Ages they appear as auxiliary or coadjutor bishops. In the East, e.g., among the Coptic Christians and other confessions, the chorbishop did not have episcopal character; in the large dioceses he was a collaborator of the bishop, but could be ordained bishop later.

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