The curious history of auxiliary bishops

My diocese is getting a new auxiliary bishop. This is the first auxiliary in the 30-year history of the San José diocese. There is a lot of energy and excitement all around the diocese about this historic event. And it has all made me wonder about why dioceses have auxiliary bishops and what an auxiliary bishop does. What exactly is a “bishop”? Before we get into that, let’s look at the role of the bishop in general. The office of bishop is one of three orders of ordained ministers in the church: bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishops have three primary roles. Their job is to: Encourage growth in holiness Lead (or govern) Teach All of these tasks are specific to a particular geographic area, which is called a diocese. Every bishop is assigned to a diocese, and within that diocese, he is the final authority on matters of holiness, leadership, and teaching in the church. Isn’t the pope in charge? Many people think the pope is the final authority. That’s sort of true, but it’s complicated. According to canon law, an individual bishop is the head of the diocese, and the only one above him is Jesus. However, a bishop [...]