QUAERITUR: What is “ad nutum episcopi”?

From a reader:

Recently here in Minneapolis the 2 FSSP priests were assigned. One was assigned as ad nutum episcopi parochial vicar. What does this phrase mean and what does is say about his tenure? What we found on the web didn’t help in the least.

First, I am delighted that one of those nice churches in NE Minneapolis will be able to stay open on its own.  In recent months parishes have been merged – for the usual reasons – and I am sure that has created some bumps and bruises here and there.

Second, I am delighted that the FSSP is able to offer service to my native place.

Third, ad nutum episcopi is a technical phrase that means literally “at the nod of the bishop”, or else in old ICELese “so long as it pleases the bishop that it be that way”.  In effect, “at the bishop’s pleasure”.

This simply means that, just as the priest is assigned at the nod of the bishop’s head, he is also removed at the nod of the bishop’s head.  In other words, there is no term of office, one way or another.   The priest has no stability in that assignment.


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  1. Random Friar says:

    I thought it might be “the bishop’s [having a] nutty”.

  2. Therese says:

    I have been told that in my diocese all parish assignments are ad nutum episcopi.

  3. Panterina says:

    “At the invitation of the bishop”, perhaps. Otherwise it sounds like the bishop merely tolerates their presence, instead of actually wanting them to contribute to the spiritual well-being and growth of the diocese under His Excellency’s care.

  4. Up here is the liberal wilds of Maine, parish consolidation has been a reality for years. Our “parish” consists of 6 former individual parishes, now staffed by 2 priests and a handful of chaplains and retired priests. These poor men need help just to be able to say Mass and hear Confession, much less perform all of their other duties. However, it is known that, despite the dire need, the bishops of the NE refuse to allow FSSP to come in and set up shop. It is a shame, not only for the people who want the TLM, but for the priests of God who need more fellow laborers.

  5. jesusthroughmary says:

    At His Excellency’s pleasure.

  6. MAJ Tony says:

    The latin term sounds similar in use to the term used for commissioned officers in the armed forces: the pleasure of the President.

    From the commissioning document:

    “This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States of America for the time being, under the provisions of those Public Laws relating to Officers of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.

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