Suffragan bishops in the Anglican Communion are nearly identical in their role to auxiliary bishops
in the Roman Catholic Church.
English diocesan bishops were commonly assisted by bishops who had been consecrated to sees which were in partibus infidelium
(titular sees that had in most cases been conquered by Muslims) before the English Reformation
. The separation of the English Church from Rome meant that this was no longer possible. The Suffragan Bishops Act 1534
allowed for the creation of new sees to allow these assistant bishops, who were named as suffragan. Before then, the term suffragan
referred to diocesan bishops in relation to their metropolitan.
Some Church of England suffragan bishops are legally delegated responsibility by the diocesan bishop for a specific geographical area
within the diocese. Such formal arrangements were piloted by the experimental London scheme in 1970.
For example, the Bishop of Colchester is an area bishop
in the Diocese of Chelmsford
. Such area schemes
are presently found in the dioceses of:
- London (since 1979): Two Cities (overseen by the diocesan), Edmonton, Kensington, Stepney, Willesden.
- Chelmsford (since 1983): Barking, Bradwell, Colchester.
- Oxford (since 1984): Oxford (overseen by the diocesan), Buckingham, Dorchester, Reading.
- Southwark (since 1991): Croydon, Kingston, Woolwich.
- Lichfield (since 1992): Shrewsbury, Stafford, Wolverhampton.
- Leeds (since 2014): Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds (overseen by the Bishop of Kirkstall), Ripon, Wakefield.
Area schemes have previously existed in Worcester diocese
(1993–2002; Worcester (overseen by the diocesan), Dudley), Salisbury diocese
(1981–2009; Ramsbury, Sherborne),Lincoln diocese
–31 January 2013; Grantham, Grimsby)
and Chichester diocese
(1984–2013; Chichester (overseen by the diocesan), Lewes, Horsham). Other suffragans have or have had informal responsibility for geographical areas (e.g. in Winchester
and York), but these are not referred to as area bishops
Provincial episcopal visitors
Suffragan bishops in the Church of England
who have oversight of parishes and clergy that reject the ministry of priests who are women, usually across a whole province, are known as provincial episcopal visitors
(PEVs) (or "flying bishops"). This concession was made in 1992 following the General Synod's vote to ordain women to the priesthood. The first PEV was John Gaisford
, Bishop of Beverley
, who was consecrated on 7 March 1994.
The Church of Ireland
has no suffragan bishops, not even in the geographically large dioceses.
Suffragan bishops are fairly common in larger dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America
(ECUSA), but usually have no responsibility for a specific geographical part of a diocese. ECUSA
is not within the jurisdiction of the English law that requires diocesan and suffragan bishops to be appointed as bishop to a specific place, and so suffragans are not given the title of any particular city within the diocese. For example, Bishop Barbara Harris
was titled simply “Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts
bishops are different episcopal offices than suffragan
. A coadjutor is elected by a diocesan convention to become the diocesan bishop (also called "the ordinary") upon the ordinary's retirement. A suffragan is also elected by a convention, but does not automatically succeed the diocesan bishop. However a suffragan's office does continue in the diocese until he or she chooses to retire. An assistant bishop
is appointed by the diocesan bishop, and his or her office ends when the ordinary who appointed her or him leaves office.
Some Anglican Church of Canada suffragan bishops are legally delegated responsibility by the diocesan bishop for a specific geographical area within the diocese.
: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham, York-Simcoe.
It is common for Anglican suffragan or assistant bishops to serve as acting bishop during a vacancy in the diocesan see (e.g., between the death or retirement of the bishop diocesan and their successor taking post). In order to achieve this, the metropolitan bishop
commissions a suffragan/assistant (usually the full-time bishop senior by consecration) who becomes the episcopal commissary
, but may be referred to by any number of phrases (since the commission is held from the metropolitan archbishop, she may be called archbishop's commissary
; the most usual current term in the Church of England being Acting Bishop of Somewhere). In the Anglican Church of Australia, someone (not always a bishop) acting as diocesan bishop is the Administrator of the Diocese and a bishop so commissioned is called the Bishop Administrator.
In 2013, between the retirement of Nigel McCulloch
and the confirmation of David Walker
as Bishop of Manchester
, both of that diocese's suffragan bishops (Chris Edmondson
, Bishop of Bolton
, and Mark Davies
, Bishop of Middleton
, who were consecrated on the same day, therefore neither had seniority) served as acting bishop co-equally.
In 2014–2015, during the vacancy between the episcopates of Paul Butler
and Paul Williams
, the diocese's sole suffragan bishop, Tony Porter
, Bishop of Sherwood
, became Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
; however, when he resigned the commission due to ill health, Richard Inwood
(retired former Bishop of Bedford
and an honorary assistant bishop
of the diocese) was commissioned Acting Bishop for a fixed one-year term.
Roman Catholic Church
In the Roman Catholic Church
, a suffragan is a bishop who heads a diocese
. His suffragan diocese
, however, is part of a larger ecclesiastical province
, nominally led by a metropolitan archbishop
. The distinction between metropolitans and suffragans is of limited practical importance. Both are diocesan bishops possessing ordinary jurisdiction over their individual sees
. The metropolitan has few responsibilities over the suffragans in his province and no direct authority over the faithful outside of his own diocese.
Bishops who assist diocesan bishops are usually called auxiliary bishops
. If the assisting bishop has special faculties (typically the right to succeed the diocesan bishop) he would be called a coadjutor bishop
Since they are not in charge of a suffragan diocese, they are not referred to as "suffragan bishops".
- ^ "3: Suffragan Bishops" (PDF). Church of England. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- ^ Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 288. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
- ^ Consecration details (version archived 17 November 2009) (Accessed 25 June 2016)
- ^ "Virtual autonomy for London's 'area bishops'?". Church Times (#5584). 20 February 1970. p. 1. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 29 September 2020 – via UK Press Online archives.
- ^ "4: The Dioceses Commission, 1978–2002"(PDF). Church of England. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- ^ GS 1445: Report of the Dioceses Commission, Diocese of Worcester (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ Salisbury Diocesan Synod minutes – 99th session, 7 November 2009 p. 3 (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ Diocese of Lincoln Central Services Review – Report to the Bishop of Lincoln Archived 2014-08-28 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ Diocese of Lincoln Central Services Review – Response from the Bishop of LincolnArchived 2014-04-24 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ Diocese of Winchester: Vacancy in See – Background to the Diocese, 2011[permanent dead link] (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ Ministry in the Diocese of PeterboroughArchived 2014-04-24 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 23 April 2014)
- ^ "2: Bishops and Diocese in the Church of England" (PDF). Church of England. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- ^ Diocese of Newcastle — Peter Stuart (Archived 12 October 2013; accessed 15 November 2016)
- ^ Diocese of Manchester – Bishop of Manchester has retired Archived 2015-11-17 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 15 November 2016)
- ^ Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham – Richard Inwood takes temporary charge (Accessed 15 November 2016)
- ^ "Metropolitan". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 10. The Encyclopedia Press. 1911. pp. 244–45. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- ^ "Canon 435-36". Code of Canon Law. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- ^ "Canon 403-10". Code of Canon Law. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
Last edited on 26 February 2021, at 18:39
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