A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop (bishop ordinary) and, consequently, are not normally jurisdictional in their role. Suffragan bishops may be charged by a metropolitan to oversee a suffragan diocese. They may be assigned to an area which does not have a cathedral of its own.
In the Anglican churches, the term applies to a bishop who is assigned responsibilities to support a diocesan bishop. For example, the Bishop of Jarrow is a suffragan to the diocesan Bishop of Durham.
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.
The concept of a suffragan bishop in the Church of England was legalised by the Suffragan Bishops Act 1534. The first bishops consecrated under that Act were Thomas Manning, Bishop of Ipswich and John Salisbury, Bishop of Thetford on 19 March 1536.The last Tudor suffragan bishop in post was John Sterne, Bishop of Colchester, who died in post in 1607/8. No more suffragans were appointed for more than 250 years, until the consecration of Henry Mackenzie as Bishop of Nottingham on 2 February 1870. At that point, the sees of suffragans were still limited to the 26 towns named in the 1534 Act; the Suffragans Nomination Act 1888 allowed the creation of new suffragan sees besides the 26 so named. The appointment of bishops suffragan became much more common thereafter.
Some Church of England and Anglican Church of Canada suffragan bishops are legally delegated responsibility by the diocesan bishop for a specific geographical area within the diocese. 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:
Area schemes have previously existed in Worcester diocese (1993–2002; Worcester (overseen by the diocesan), Dudley),Salisbury diocese (1981–2009; Ramsbury, Sherborne), Lincoln diocese (2010 –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, Peterborough, and York), but these are not referred to as area bishops.
The Diocese of Portsmouth does not have a suffragan bishop. Until 2016/2017, the Dioceses of Newcastle and of Leicester had a stipendiary assistant bishops instead of suffragans,but these have since been replaced with suffragan bishops.
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.
An early example of a suffragan can be seen in Wales is Penrydd, established in 1537, when the Welsh dioceses were still within the Church of England. The Bishop of Swansea was a suffragan in the Diocese of St David's from 1890 till the erection of the diocese in 1923. Since disestablishment, Thomas Lloyd was suffragan Bishop of Maenan in the Diocese of St Asaph, when the bishop diocesan was also Archbishop of Wales.
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”.
Coadjutor and assistant 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 to 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.
It is common for Anglican suffragan or assistant bishops to act up during a vacancy in the diocesan See (i.e. 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 (the most usual 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) acted up 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.
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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".
In Christianity, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of England, the title is borne by the leader of the denomination. Like popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, cardinal bishops, diocesan bishops, and suffragan bishops, archbishops are in the highest of the three traditional orders of bishops, priests, and deacons. An archbishop may be granted the title or ordained as chief pastor of a metropolitan see or another episcopal see to which the title of archbishop is attached.
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is one of the nine original dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Catholic, Anglican, and (historically) Eastern Orthodox churches whose main role is to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese. The coadjutor is a bishop himself, although he is also appointed as vicar general. The coadjutor bishop is, however, given authority beyond that ordinarily given to the vicar general, making him co-head of the diocese in all but ceremonial precedence. In modern times, the coadjutor automatically succeeds the diocesan bishop upon the latter's retirement, removal, or death.
A vicar general is the principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese for the exercise of administrative authority and possesses the title of local ordinary. As vicar of the bishop, the vicar general exercises the bishop's ordinary executive power over the entire diocese and, thus, is the highest official in a diocese or other particular church after the diocesan bishop or his equivalent in canon law. The title normally occurs only in Western Christian churches, such as the Latin Church of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Among the Eastern churches, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Kerala uses this title and remains an exception. The title for the equivalent officer in the Eastern churches is syncellus and protosyncellus.
The Diocese of Canterbury is a Church of England diocese covering eastern Kent which was founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in 597. The diocese is centred on Canterbury Cathedral and is the oldest see of the Church of England.
A provincial episcopal visitor (PEV), popularly known as a flying bishop, is a Church of England bishop assigned to minister to many of the clergy, laity and parishes who on grounds of theological conviction, "are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests".
The Diocese of Newcastle is a Church of England diocese based in Newcastle upon Tyne, covering the historic county of Northumberland, as well as the area of Alston Moor in Cumbria.
The Diocese of Chelmsford is a Church of England diocese, part of the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers Essex and the five East London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest, and is co-terminous with the boundaries of the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood. It is divided into three episcopal areas, each with its own area bishop. The Diocese covers a region of around 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2) and has a population of more than 3 million; it has 463 parishes and a total of 588 churches; it is the second largest Anglican diocese in England.
The Diocese of Derby is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury, roughly covering the same area as the County of Derbyshire. Its diocesan bishop is the Bishop of Derby whose seat (cathedra) is at Derby Cathedral. The diocesan bishop is assisted by one suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Repton.
An assistant bishop in the Anglican Communion is a bishop appointed to assist a diocesan bishop.
The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ. "...[I]t might be useful if Anglicans dropped the word minister when referring to the clergy...In our tradition, ordained persons are either bishops, priests, or deacons, and should be referred to as such."
The Episcopal Church of Cuba is the diocese consisting of the entire country of Cuba in The Episcopal Church. From 1966 to 2018, it was an extra-provincial part of the Anglican Communion. As of 2016, it had about 10,000 members in forty-six parishes.
The ordination of women in the Anglican Communion has been increasingly common in certain provinces since the 1970s. Several provinces, however, and certain dioceses within otherwise ordaining provinces, continue to ordain only men. Disputes over the ordination of women have contributed to the establishment and growth of progressive tendencies, such the Anglican realignment and Continuing Anglican movements.
The Bishop of Loughborough is an episcopal title used by the sole suffragan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Leicester in the Province of Canterbury, England.
The Anglican Diocese of Leeds is a diocese of the Church of England, in the Province of York. It is the largest diocese in England by area, comprising much of western Yorkshire: almost the whole of West Yorkshire, the western part of North Yorkshire, the town of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, and most of the parts of County Durham, Cumbria and Lancashire which lie within the historic boundaries of Yorkshire. It includes the cities of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon. It was created on 20 April 2014 following a review of the dioceses in Yorkshire and the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield.
The Diocese of South Carolina, known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) from January 2013 until September 2019, is a diocese of the Episcopal Church. The diocese covers an area of 24 counties in the eastern part of the state. The see city is Charleston, home to Grace Church Cathedral and diocesan headquarters. The western portion of the state forms the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. As a diocese of the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.
A provisional bishop in the Episcopal Church is a bishop — either retired or concurrently holding another episcopal post — who serves as the bishop of a particular diocese during a vacancy in that See. The provisional bishop may then serve either for an agreed period of time or until a new diocesan bishop is elected and consecrated — but both at the pleasure of the diocese's Convention. Provisional bishops are appointed under Canon III.13 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, 2012.
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as one of the nine original dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The diocese originally covered the entire state of South Carolina, but the western part of the state became the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina in 1922. In 2012, the diocese split into two rival dioceses, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, each claiming to be the legitimate successor of the original diocese.