As we prepare for the Episcopal ordination next week of Bishop-elects J. Douglas Deshotel and Mark Seitz as auxiliary bishops I have been asked “what is the distinction between an auxiliary bishop and a diocesan bishop?” The simple answer is jurisdiction.
A diocesan bishop in “in charge” of a diocese, he has the triple responsibility of being pastor, teacher and sanctifier for all those who reside in the territory of the diocese as defined by the Church. An auxiliary bishop assists the diocesan bishop and has only the jurisdiction given to him by the diocesan bishop.
Of course all bishops are fully bishops, the term auxiliary describes his role or responsibilities. There are only three clerical ranks in the Church, deacon, priest and bishop. Other titles designate responsibilities or honors. For instance the Holy Father is first of all the Bishop of Rome and, as such, is the Pope. Archbishops are bishops of important dioceses that have been designated as archdioceses. Co-adjutor bishops are bishops who are assigned to assist and succeed diocesan bishops. Auxiliary bishops, unlike co-adjutor bishops, do not automatically succeed the diocesan bishops. Cardinals are bishops who have been appointed as papal electors. They may be a diocesan bishop or be assigned to an office at the Vatican. Monsignors are priests, usually senior clergy, who have been honored for their ministry.
Every bishop must be assigned a diocese. If he is not a diocesan bishop, then he is given the title of an ancient diocese that has been suppressed. He is than called the titular bishop of that diocese. Bishop-elect Deshotel will be the Titular Bishop of Cova and Bishop-elect Seitz will be Titular Bishop of Cozyla. Cova is a suppressed see in North Africa and Cozyla is a suppressed See in Bulgaria.
Both new bishops will be Vicars General. That is they will exercise authority over particular areas of administration delegated to them by the diocesan bishop. Both will be close associates and consultors to the diocesan bishop, and in his absence, have jurisdiction over the diocese.
I look forward to a close and fraternal relationship with both new bishops and am very grateful to the Holy Father for providing our diocese with two such fine priests as auxiliary bishops.
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