On Saturday, it was made public that the Pope appointed Fr. Beda Umberto Paluzzi, OSB, previously the apostolic administrator of the territorial abbey of Montevergine, Italy as the ordinary abbot of that territorial abbey.
In laymen’s terms, the monk was an interim director of the abbey and is now officially the fully-vested chief of the abbey. A territorial abbey is an interesting historical device in the Church. Every location in the world (perhaps not Antarctica; I don’t know) is part of some territorial jurisdiction of the church. In the United States, we’re used to hearing about dioceses and archdioceses. While they are the most common throughout the world, there are a few other minor ones (territorial prelatures, apostolic vicariates, apostolic prefectures among others) that somehow fit into the Catholic global map.
Territorial abbeys is one such minor territorial unit. In this case, an abbot is not only the ordinary to the monks living in his monastery but also of a small territory. This was most common when there was little established church life around the area and the monks could serve the purpose well.
Today’s appointment struck me because of the stats: Population 14, Catholics 8, Priests 8, Religious 14. I’m not sure why the other 6 aren’t Catholic but considering the area, I’m assuming someone has their information incorrect.
Interestingly enough, the 2004 papal yearbook says there were almost 15,000 in the territory. I assume, then, that either the numbers are way off or more likely, much of the territory surrounding the abbey was transferred to the local diocese.