Q. Do archdioceses contain any special status above regular dioceses?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The dictionary defines “arch” as “the extreme or most characteristic example of its kind.” We should not be surprised, then, to learn that an archdiocese enjoys a higher rank than a diocese, because it sets the standard for the dioceses under its governance.
But what is a diocese? The Church’s Code of Canon Law states, “A diocese is a portion of the people of God which is entrusted for pastoral care to a bishop … so that, adhering to its pastor and gathered by him in the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the Eucharist it constitutes a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative” (Canon 369).
Our baptism not only unites us to Christ, but to one another as members of his body, the Church. We gather together in parishes, and parishes unite to form dioceses. This allows individuals to become part of the larger Church, under the direction of a bishop, who cooperates with the archbishop, and who periodically presents to the pope a report of the activities in his diocese. This may seem complicated, but it provides an efficient administrative structure for a large and complex organization.