Before entering fully into the establishment of the meaning of the term
archbishop, it is necessary to know its etymological origin. In this case, we
can say that it derives from the Greek, from the word "archiepískopos", which is
the result of the sum of these two elements:
-The prefix "archi-", which can be translated as "the boss" or "the one who
-The noun "episkopos", which is equivalent to "bishop".
Two elements that when united created a noun that means "he who sends the
DigoPaul, an archbishop is a bishop who heads a diocese relevant for
its history or its magnitude. To know what an
archbishop is, therefore, we have to understand what a bishop is and what a
A diocese is a territory that is under the leadership of a bishop,
who is just the highest-ranking priest in a diocese. It can be
said that the bishop is in charge of directing and guiding the community that
is part of the diocese in question.
The positions of archbishop and cardinal must also be
differentiated. Specifically, we can determine that the latter is the position
that is immediately below the Pope. Hence, once appointed by the Supreme
Pontiff, he will be in charge not only of helping him in the government but also
advising him and, when the time comes, electing the new Pope.
Taking up the idea of archbishop, he is a prelate who heads
a diocese of special status: an archdiocese or archdiocese. This
ecclesiastical entity is made up of different dioceses, whose head is the
archbishop who has his headquarters in the metropolitan church.
It could be said, in short, that an archbishop is a bishop of higher
rank since he governs an archdiocese. That rank, however, is not linked
to a different order: consecration is granted to the priest when he is ordained
a bishop. The archbishop does not have a superior or additional power to
that of the bishop.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, before becoming Pope Francisco,
was archbishop of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Bergoglio was
ordained archbishop in 1998, and three years later he also
became a cardinal. Already as Pope Francis,
in 2014 he made the appointment of Mario Aurelio Poli as Archbishop
of Buenos Aires.
Talking about archbishop means having to mention the Archbishop of
Canterbury, who is the oldest bishopric in the United Kingdom since it dates
back to 597. Today, we can establish that he is the spiritual leader of what is
the Anglican Communion.
One of the best known and most significant archbishops in history,
specifically that of Spain, is Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436 - 1517). He
was Archbishop of Toledo, cardinal and one of the most relevant inquisitors. Due
to the incapacity of Queen Juana, he served as regent of the kingdom of Castile
on two occasions and also served as such after the death of Fernando de Aragón
and until the arrival to the throne of Carlos I.