Gozo Kurja

Curia of the Bishop of Gozo

Historical sketch

The Chancery or Curia of Gozo was set up sometime in the fifteenth century. At that time, the church introduced the custom of dividing large dioceses into smaller ecclesiastical districts called provicariates so as to better the general administration. Their heads were styled with various names and their powers were generally determined by diocesan statutes, by custom, or by special mandate of the bishop.

The bishop of Malta, in line with the norms of the universal church, created the island of Gozo and Comino as a provicariate with its own Curia, the Curia Provicariale Insulae Gaudisii. The first known provicar is Don Pinus Saguna appointed by Bishop Jacobus Valguarnera in 1495. Forty six provicars are recorded up to the establishment of the diocese in 1864.

The provicar headed the Chancery, a place that housed the Archives and the Provicarial Court. In court, the provicar had limited jurisdiction in civil law suits and the power to imprison. This court was formally suppressed on 10 April 1828. He was besides duty bound to invigilate the clergy and to visit parishes to see to the daily observance of sacramental discipline and episcopal decrees. The provicar was aided by a chancellor, in charge of pastoral matters, a fiscal agent, managing administrative affairs, and other minor officials. As a result of their activity an archives was soon set up and started growing from day to day.

Bishop’s Chancery

On 16 September 1864 Gozo and Comino became a autonomous diocese. The new Bishop’s Curia, the Curia Episcopalis Gaudisiensis, began to function on 24 October 1864. In the management of the day to day affairs, the bishop was assisted by the Vicar General and the Chancellor.

The Vicar General dealt with the administration of the diocese. All matters related directly or indirectly to financial affairs fell under his competence. He proceeded with the work formerly carried out by the fiscal agent. The Vicar General was assisted by an assessor, a sort of director, a fiscal lawyer, and the poor’s advocate, all of which worked on a part-time basis.

The Chancellor, helped by the bishop’s secretary and other officials, dealt with the correspondence that passed between the Curia and the Holy See, the Government, the Cathedral Chapter, and other persons in all matters excepting those financial. The Chancery also received applications for vacant ecclesiastical offices and carried out the proceedings before the conferment of benefices. The office also concluded all practices related to the conferment of the sacraments of Holy Order and Matrimony.