Anglican Communion 
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In the Anglican churches, the term applies to a bishop who is an assistant to a diocesan bishop, for example, the Bishop of Jarrow is a suffragan to the Bishop of Durham (the diocesan). Some Anglican suffragans are given the responsibility for a geographical area within the diocese (for example, the Bishop of Colchester is an area bishop within the Diocese of Chelmsford) – such area schemes are in effect in the dioceses of Chelmsford, Chichester, Lichfield, London, Oxford, Salisbury and Southwark.
English diocesan bishops were commonly assisted by bishops who had been consecrated to sees which were in partibus infidelium 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 this time the term "suffragan" referred to diocesan bishops in relation to their metropolitan.
Suffragan bishops in the Anglican Communion are nearly identical in their role to auxiliary bishops in the Roman Catholic Church.
Suffragan bishops who look after those parishes and clergy who conscientiously object to the priestly ministry of women, usually across a whole province, are known as provincial episcopal visitors. This concession was made in 1992 following the General Synod's vote to ordain women.
The dioceses of Leicester and Newcastle do not have suffragan bishops, but each has one stipendiary assistant bishop with very little difference from a suffragan bishop, except that they do not have a see.
The Church of Ireland has no suffragan bishops, not even in the geographically large dioceses.
In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, suffragan bishops are fairly common in larger dioceses, but usually have no specific geographical responsibility within a diocese (and are not affected by the English law requiring diocesan and suffragan sees to be named after a unique significant place) and so are not given the title of a particular city. Thus Barbara Harris was titled simply "Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts".
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.
See also 
- "3: Suffragan Bishops". Church of England. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- "2: Bishops and Diocese in the Church of England". Church of England. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- "Metropolitan". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 10. The Encyclopedia Press. 1911. pp. 244–45. Retrieved 2009-Dec-06.
- "Canon 435-36". Code of Canon Law. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2009-Dec-06.
- "Canon 403-10". Code of Canon Law. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2009-Dec-06.
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