AskDefine | Define coadjutor

Dictionary Definition

coadjutor n : an assistant to a Bishop

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. An assistant, especially an assistant to a bishop


  • 1842 John Henry Newman - The Ecclesiastical History of M. L'abbé Fleury
    When old age rendered any Bishop unable to perform his duties, the first example of which occurs AD 211, when Alexander became coadjutor to Narcissus at Jerusalem
  • 2005 James Martin Estes - Peace, Order and the Glory of God
    August then appointed Prince George III of Anhalt (who was both a theologian and a priest as well as a prince) to be his coadjutor in spiritual matters.

Extensive Definition

A coadjutor bishop (or bishop coadjutor) is a bishop in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches who is designated to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese almost as co-bishop of the diocese. The coadjutor (literally, "co-assister" in Latin) is a bishop himself and is given authority even beyond that ordinarily given to the vicar-general (although a coadjutor is also appointed a vicar-general), making him co-ruler of the diocese in all but ceremonial precedence. In modern times, the coadjutor automatically succeeds the current bishop of a diocese upon the latter's retirement, removal or death.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church, a coadjutor bishop is an immediate collaborator of the diocesan bishop, similar to an auxiliary bishop. Unlike auxiliary bishops, coadjutors are given the automatic right of succession to the episcopal see, meaning that when the diocesan bishop they are assisting dies, retires, resigns, or is reassigned, the coadjutor automatically becomes the next bishop of the particular diocese. Until then, the diocesan bishop appoints the coadjutor to act as vicar general.
In modern church practice, the appointment of a coadjutor is usually done in cases where a diocesan bishop feels that he will not be able to continue much longer for health reasons or because he is nearing retirement age. In these cases the Pope will sometimes assign a coadjutor to the diocese in question in order to give the succeeding bishop time to become familiar with the diocese that he will eventually take over. An example of this occurred in 1994 when Archbishop Jerome Hanus was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Dubuque as Archbishop Daniel Kucera was planning to retire. In 1995, Archbishop Kucera retired, and Hanus automatically became the next Archbishop of Dubuque.
At times, the appointment of a coadjutor is used to discreetly remove a diocesan bishop who has become involved in scandal or other problems and replace him with another man. An example of this occurred in the Archdiocese of Dubuque in the 1940s, when then Archbishop Beckman involved the archdiocese in what turned out to be a dubious mining scheme. When the scheme fell apart and the man behind the scam was arrested, the fallout resulted in serious financial problems for Archbishop Beckman and the archdiocese. Because of all of Beckman's problems, Bishop Henry Rohlman of Davenport, Iowa, was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa. While Beckman was allowed to retain the office of Archbishop, it was made clear to him by the Holy See that the actual power rested with Rohlman. Beckman soon retired and left Dubuque.
Prior to the reform of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, a distinction was made between coadjutor bishops cum jure succesionis and those without -- that is, some coadjutors were appointed with the automatic right of succession, and others without such a right (the latter were usually appointed for archbishops with particularly large dioceses who also held other important posts and to honor certain auxiliary bishops -- for instance, Coadjutor Archbishop John Maguire assisted Cardinal Francis Spellman, who was simultaneously Archbishop of New York and also head of what later became the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, two of the largest archdioceses in the country).
Now, no coadjutor is appointed without the concomitant right of succession.

Anglican Communion

In some provinces of the Anglican Communion, a bishop coadjutor (the form usually used) is a bishop elected or appointed to follow the current diocesan bishop upon the incumbent's death or retirement. For example, in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, when a diocesan bishop announces his or her retirement, a special diocesan convention is held to elect a coadjutor. Usually the coadjutor serves with the incumbent for a short time before the latter's retirement, at which time the coadjutor becomes the diocesan bishop.
coadjutor in Czech: Biskup koadjutor
coadjutor in German: Koadjutor
coadjutor in Spanish: Obispo coadjutor
coadjutor in French: Coadjuteur
coadjutor in Italian: Vescovo coadiutore
coadjutor in Dutch: Hulpbisschop
coadjutor in Polish: Biskup koadiutor
coadjutor in Russian: Коадъютор
coadjutor in Ukrainian: Коад'ютор
coadjutor in Chinese: 助理主教

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Grand Penitentiary, Holy Father, abuna, acolyte, adjunct, adjutant, agent, aid, aide, aide-de-camp, aider, ally, antipope, archbishop, archdeacon, archpriest, assistant, associate, attendant, auxiliary, bedfellow, best man, bishop, bishop coadjutor, brother, brother-in-arms, canon, cardinal, cardinal bishop, cardinal deacon, cardinal priest, chaplain, coadjutant, coadjutress, coadjutrix, cohort, colleague, companion, compatriot, compeer, comrade, confederate, confrere, consociate, consort, crony, curate, dean, deputy, diocesan, ecclesiarch, exarch, executive officer, fellow, fellow member, help, helper, helpmate, helpmeet, hierarch, high priest, lieutenant, metropolitan, papa, paranymph, paraprofessional, patriarch, penitentiary, pontiff, pope, prebendary, prelate, primate, rector, rural dean, second, servant, sideman, subdean, suffragan, supporting actor, supporting instrumentalist, vicar
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