Anyway, this is a topic that really interests me and pains me as well. As a new convert, it is disheartening for me especially to read about how some Eastern Catholics view Papal Supremacy, which seem to reduce the Pope to nothing more than the head of the Latin Church, with some minor say over the Eastern Churches. It is very confusing.
Try to think of it like this: the Pope has the authority to do whatever he wants administratively. If he wants a certain bishop to be elected to a particular diocese, no one can stop him. But what he has the right to do is not always the prudent thing to do. It is the custom in the East, and also was in the West until Vatican 1 I think, for bishops to be elected by the bishops of their neighboring dioceses, and then the newly elected bishops sends notification of his election to the Pope. It usually is not prudent for the Pope to step in and do what other bishops can do on their own. The Pope has greater administrative authority, but sacramentally he is on an equal footing with every other bishop. The Pope is both father AND first among equals - the two aren't necessarily incompatible.
The matter is, I suspecy, more complicated than that, custom would have varied from province to province, in some places custom would have ceded control to the pope far earlier and in others far later.
As a rule they contented themselves with exercising an influence on the electors. But from the beginning of the sixth century, this attitude was modified. In the East the clergy and the primates, or chief citizens, nominated three candidates from whom the metropolitan chose the bishop. At a later date, the bishops of the ecclesiastical province assumed the exclusive right of nominating the candidates. In the West, the kings intervened in these elections, notably in Spain and Gaul, and sometimes assumed the right of direct nomination (Funk, "Die Bischofswahl im christlichen Altertum und im Anfang des Mittelalters" in "Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen und Untersuchungen", Paderborn: 1897, I, 23-39; Imbart. de la Tour. "Les élections épiscopales dans l'ancienne France", Paris, 1890). This interference of princes and emperors lasted until the quarrel about Investitures, which was especially violent in Germany, where from the ninth to the eleventh centuries abbots and bishops had become real temporal princes. (See INVESTITURE.) The Second Lateran Council (1139) handed over to the chapter of the cathedral church the sole right of choosing the bishop, and this legislation was sanctioned by the Decretals (Decretum Gratiani. P. I., Dist. lxiii, ch. xxxv; ch. iii. De causa possessionis et proprietatis, X, II, xii; ch. liv, De electione et electi potestate, X, I, vi; Friedberg, Corpus Juris Canonici, Leipzeig, 1879-81, I, 247, II, 95,276) The bishops of the Middle Ages acquired much temporal power, but this was accompanied by a corresponding diminution of their spiritual authority. By the exercise of the prerogative of the primacy the Holy See reserved to Itself all the most important affairs, the so-called causae majores, as for instance the canonization of saints (ch. i, De reliquiis X, III, xlv; Friedberg, II, 650), the permission to venerate publicly newly discovered relics, the absolution of certain grave sins, etc. Appeals to the pope against the judicial decisions of the bishops became more and more frequent. The religious orders and the chapters of cathedral and collegiate churches obtained exemption from episcopal authority. The cathedral chapter obtained a very considerable influence in the administration of the diocese. The pope reserved also to himself the nomination of many ecclesiastical benefices (C. Lux. Constitutionum apostolicarum de generali beneficiorum reservatione collectio et Breslau, 1904). He also claimed the right to nominate the bishops, but in the German Concordat of 1448 he granted the chapters the right to elect them, while in that of 1516 he permitted the King of France to nominate the bishops of that nation. Subsequently the Council of Trent defined the rights of the bishop and remedied the abuses which had slipped into the administration of dioceses and the conduct of bishops. The council granted them the exclusive right of publishing indulgences; it also impressed upon them the obligation of residence in their dioceses, the duty of receiving consecration within three months after their elevation to the episcopate, of erecting seminaries, of convoking annual diocesan synods, of assisting at, provincial synods, and of visiting their dioceses. It also forbade them to cumulate benefices, etc. The same council diminished exceptions from episcopal authority, and delegated to the bishops some of the rights which in the past the Holy See had reserved for itself. Subsequent pontifical acts completed the Tridentine legislation, which is still valid. Protestantism and at a later date the French Revolution destroyed all temporal power of the bishops; thenceforth they were free to consecrate themselves with greater earnestness to the duties of their spiritual ministry.
Two classes of bishops must be distinguished, not with regard to the power of order, for all bishops receive the fullness of the priesthood but with regard to the power of jurisdiction: the diocesan bishop and the titular bishop or, as he was called before 1882 the episcopus in partibus infedelium. The former is here considered. Those belonging to the second class cannot perform any episcopal function without the authorization of the diocesan bishop; for as titular bishops there have no ordinary jurisdiction. They can; however, act as auxiliary bishops, i.e. they may be appointed by the pope to assist a diocesan bishop in the exercise of duties arising from the episcopal order but entailing no power of jurisdiction. (See AUXILIARY BISHOP.) Such a bishop is also called vicarius in pontificalibus, i.e. a representative in certain ceremonial acts proper to the diocesan bishop, sometimes suffragan bishop, episcopus suffraganeus. In the proper sense of the term, however, the suffragan bishop is the diocesan bishop in his relations with the metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province to which he belongs, while the bishop who is independent of any metropolitan is called an exempt bishop, episcopus exemptus. The titular bishop may also be coadjutor bishop when he is appointed to assist an ordinary bishop in the administration of the diocese. Sometimes he is incorrectly called auxiliary bishop. He possesses some powers of jurisdiction determined by the letters Apostolic appointing him. Often also, notably in missionary countries, the coadjutor bishop is named cum jure successionis, i.e. with the right of succession; on the death of the diocesan bishop he enters on the ordinary administration of the diocese.
The Council of Trent determined the conditions to be fulfilled by candidates for the episcopate, of which the following are the principal: birth in lawful wedlock, freedom from censure and irregularity or any defect in mind, purity of personal morals, and good reputation. The candidate must also be fully thirty years of age and have been not less than six months in Holy orders. He ought also to have the theological degree of Doctor or at least be a licentiate in theology or canon law or else have the testimony of a public academy or seat of learning (or, if he be a religious, of the highest authority of his order) that he is fit to teach others (c. vii, De electione et electi potestate, X.I. vi; Friedberg, II, 51. Council of Trent. Sess. XXII, De ref., ch. ii). The Holy Office is charged with the examination of persons called to the episcopate, with the exception of the territories subject to the Congregation of the Propaganda or to the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, or of those countries where the nomination of bishops is governed by special laws and concordats ("Motu Proprio" of Pope Pius X. 17 December, 1903; "acta sanctae Sedis, 1904, XXXVI, 385). We have said that the Decretals recognize the right of the cathedral chapters to elect the bishop. This right has long been long withdrawn and is no longer in force. In virtue of the second rule of the Papal Chancery the choice of bishops belongs exclusively to the pope (Walter, Fontes juris eccesiastici antiqui et hodierni, Bonn, 1861, 483) Exceptions to this rule, however, are numerous. In Austria (with the exception of some episcopal sees), in Bavaria, in Spain, in Portugal and in Peru, the Government presents to the sovereign pontiff the candidates for the episcopate. It was so in France, and in several South American Republics before the rupture or denunciation of the concordats between the states and the Apostolic See. By the cessation of these concordats such states lost all right of intervention in the nomination of bishops; this does not, however prevent the Government in several South American Republics from recommending candidates to the sovereign pontiff. The cathedral chapter is authorized to elect the bishop in several dioceses of Austria, Switzerland, Prussia, and in some States of Germany, notably in the ecclesiastical province of the Upper Rhine. The action of the electors, however, is not entirely free. For example, they may not choose persons distasteful to the Government (Letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State to the Chapters of Germany, 20, July 1900; Canonist Contemporain, 1901, XXIV, 727). Elsewhere the pope himself nominates bishops, but in Italy the Government insists that they obtain the royal exequatur before taking possession of the episcopal see. In missionary countries the pope generally permits the "recommendation" of candidates, but this does not juridically bind the sovereign pontiff, who has the power to choose the new bishop from persons not included in the list of recommended candidates. In England the canons of the cathedral select by a majority of the votes, at three successive ballots, three candidates for the vacant episcopal see. Their names, arranged in alphabetical order, are transmitted to the Propaganda and to the archbishop of the province, or to the senior suffragan of the province, if the question is one of the election of an archbishop. The bishops of the province discuss the merits of the candidates and transmit their observations to the Propaganda. Since 1847 the bishops are empowered, if they so desire, to propose other names for the choice of the Holy See, and a decision of the Propaganda (25 April, 3 May, 1904) confirms this practice (Instruction of Propaganda, 21 April, 1852; "Collectanea S. C. de Propagandâ Fide", Rome, 1893. no. 42; Taunton, 87-88). Analogous enactments are in force in Ireland. The canons of the cathedral and all the parish priests free from censure and in actual and peaceful possession of their parish or united parishes, choose in a single ballot three ecclesiastics. The names of the three candidates who have obtained the greatest number of votes are announced and forwarded to the Propaganda and to the archbishop of the province. The archbishop and the bishops of the province give the Holy See their opinion on the candidates. If they judge that none of the candidates is capable of fulfilling the episcopal functions no second recommendation is to be made. If it is a question of the nomination of a coadjutor bishop with the right of succession the same rules are followed, but the presidency of the electoral meeting, instead of being given to the metropolitan, his delegate, or the senior bishop of the province, belongs to the bishop who asks for the coadjutor (Instruction of Propaganda, 17 September, 1829, and 25 April, 1835; "Collectanea," nos. 40 and 41). In Scotland, where there is no chapter of canons, they follow the rules as in England; and when there is no chapter, the bishops of Scotland and the archbishops of Edinburgh and Glasgow choose by a triple ballot the three candidates. The names of these latter are communicated to the Holy See together with the votes which each candidate has obtained. At the same time is transmitted useful information about each of them according to the questions determined by the Propaganda (Instruction of the Propaganda, 25 July, 1883; "Collectanea". no. 45). In the United States of America the diocesan consultors and the irremovable rectors of the diocese assemble under the presidency of the archbishop or the senior bishop of the province, and choose three candidates, the first dignissimus, the second dignior, and the third digmus. Their names are sent to the Propaganda and to the archbishops of the province; the archbishop and the bishops the province examine the merits of the candidates proposed by the clergy and in their turn, by a secret ballot propose three candidates. If they choose other candidates than those designated by the clergy, they indicate their reasons to the Propaganda. In the case of the nomination of a coadjutor with right of succession, the meeting of the clergy is presided over by the bishop who demands a coadjutor. If it concerns a newly created diocese, the consulters of all the dioceses from whose territory the new diocese was formed and all the irremovable rectors of the new diocese choose the three candidates of the clergy. Finally, if it is a matter of replacing an archbishop or of giving him a coadjutor with right of succession all the metropolitans of the United States are consulted by the Propaganda (Decree of Propaganda, 21 January, 1861, modified by that of 31 September, 1885; Collectanea, no. 43). In Canada by a decree of 2 December, 1862, the Church still follows the rules laid down by the Propaganda on 21 January, 1861, for the United States (Collectanea. no. 43; Collectio Lacensis 1875, III, 684, 688). Every three years the bishops must communicate to the Propaganda and to the metropolitan the names of the priests they think worthy of episcopal functions. In addition, each bishop must designate in a secret letter three ecclesiastics whom he believes worthy to succeed him. When a vacancy occurs, all the bishops of the province indicate to the archbishop or to the senior bishop the priests whom they consider recommendable. The bishops then discuss in a meeting the merits of each of the priests recommended, and proceed to the nomination of the candidates by secret vote. The acts of the assembly are transmitted to the Propaganda. In Australia, a method similar to that in use in the United States is followed. Two differences, however, are to be noted: first the bishops still signify every three years, to the metropolitan and to the Propaganda the names of the priests whom they consider worthy of the episcopal office. Second, when the nomination of a coadjutor bishop is in question, the presidency over the assembly of consultors and irremovable rectors belongs not to the bishop who demands a coadjutor, but to the metropolitan or to the bishop delegated by him (Instruction of Propaganda, 19 May, 1866, modified by the decree of 1 May, 1887; Collectanea, no. 44).
Whatever the manner of his nomination, the bishop possesses no power until his nomination has been confirmed by the Holy See, whether in consistory or by pontifical letters. Moreover, he is forbidden to enter on the administration of his diocese therefore taking possession of his see by communication to the cathedral chapter the letters Apostolic of his nomination (Const. "Apostolicae Sedis", 12 October, 1869, V, i; "Collectanea", no. 1002).