Catholic Dictionary




An unfilled ecclesiastical position or office. The Holy See is said to be vacant at the death or resignation of the Pope. The college of cardinals summons the conclave to elect a new pope. They have no papal jurisdiction, nor can they perform papal acts. When the death, resignation, translation, or deposition of a bishop creates a vacancy, the government devolves upon the chapter of canons, who within eight days must appoint a vicar capitular. If there is no chapter, the bishop himself appoints an administrator before the vacancy occurs, or the suffragan appoints an administrator afterwards until a new appointment is made.