Chronology of Catholic Dioceses:Note on the Diocese of Cherson, then Tiraspol, 1848/1852

The diocese of Cherson was erected in 1848, in what was then Russia. Four years later, in 1852, it changed name to Tiraspol. It was detached from the Archdiocese of Mohilev, which - in spite of its name - had Sankt Petersburg as its factual See. It included at that time the governments of Saratov, Samara, Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Bessarabia. Bessarabia is today's Moldova.

After the first world war, Bessarabia became part of Romania, and ecclesially part of the Catholic Diocese of Iasi in Romania. The city of Tiraspol remained on the Russian (or rather: Soviet) side of the border. After the redrawing of national borders after the Second World War, the city of Tiraspol ended up inside the Soviet Republic of Moldavia, i.e., in present-day Moldova.

However, we do not consider Tiraspol ever having been a truly Moldavian jurisdiction, as its factual See was in Saratov in Russia and was originally brought in existence to serve Catholics of German background in Southern Russia, and so little its territory was (and comparatively so few of its Catholics were, or are) within today's Moldova. The majority of these German-speaking Catholics were clustered along the Volga river, and along the Caspian Sea. Of course, also Catholics of other national backgrounds were served by this diocese. The reason why Tiraspol and not Saratov was chosen as name for this new diocese, was that Tiraspol had been the See of the old diocese of Kherson, which existed in the 14th Century.

Ever since the beginning of the persecutions of Catholics shortly after the Russian Revolution (1917), the diocese of Tiraspol has not been a functioning entity.

In 1921, an Apostolic Administrator for the Armenians, based in Tbilisi, was appointed. The pastoral care for the Armenians in Russia had de facto been under the perview of Tiraspol already since about 1880 - upon the Russian conquest of the Artvin area of the Ottoman Empire in 1878, the Russians had declared that the Armenian Catholic eparchy / diocese of Artvin (responsible for the Armenians in southern Russia) was suppressed and incorporated in Tiraspol. The Holy See never accepted this, but in 1912 it seems that the Holy See accepted that the Armenians within the territory of the Latin-rite diocese of Tiraspol was, by default, tended to by that diocese.

In 1926, five new Apostolic Administratures were erected within its territory: (1) Odessa, (2) Caucasus, (3) Tiflis and Georgia, (4) Volga, (5) and the Apostolic Administrature for Armenians in all of Russia.

The Annuarios Pontificio from the 1920s make it clear that the latter Administrature of the Armenians must be considered part of the (vacant) see of Artvin, in spite of the fact that the apostolic administrature was listed under Tiraspol.

For the most part, these five Apostolic Administratures collapsed almost immediately as the Communists soon found out and intensified their persecution. But until 1991, they were still listed in the Vatican yearbook Annuario Pontificio, under the diocese of Tiraspol. It still (2000) exists on paper, but in reality the Catholic Latin-rite population is served by the new Apostolic Administrations of Southern European Russia (based in Saratov), Moldova (based in Chisinau), Caucasus (based in Tbilisi), by the Mission "sui iuris" of Baku (Azerbaijan), and by Ukrainian jurisdictions.

The Armenian Catholics are no longer in any way associated to Tiraspol; since 1991, they have had their own Ordinariate: "Eastern Europe for Armenian Catholics", based in Gyumri in Armenia.

-CT (Based on CE, LThK 1934, Robertson 1995, and the findings of Mr. James A. Derrick)

av Webmaster publisert 08.09.2004, sist endret 08.09.2004 - 12:11