In the Western Church, a Primate is an archbishop—or rarely a suffragan or exempt bishop—of a specific episcopal see (called a primatial see) which confers precedence over the bishops of one or more neighboring ecclesiastical provinces, such as a 'national' church in historical, political, and cultural terms. Historically, primates were granted privileges including the authority to call and preside at national synods, the jurisdiction to hear appeals from metropolitan tribunals, the right to crown the sovereign of the nation, and presiding at the investiture (installation) of archbishops in their sees.
The office is generally found in the older Catholic countries, and is now purely honorific, enjoying no effective powers under canon law except for Esztergom (Gran) in Hungary. An exemption is Poland where the new status of their episcopal conference states that the Primate of Poland is durante munere a member of the Perpetual Board of the episcopal conference and he has honorary precedence among Polish bishops (e.g. when carrying on liturgical ceremonies). Polish primates also actively wear cardinal's vestments, even if they have not been nominated cardinals, a privilege granted by the Holy See. The title, where it exists, may be vested in one of the oldest archdioceses in a country. The see city may no longer have the prominence it had when the diocese was created, or its circumscription may no longer exist as a state, nation or country — for example, the Archbishop of Toledo originated as the "Primate of the Visigothic Kingdom", while the Archbishop of Lyon is the "Primate of the Gauls".
Some of the leadership functions once exercised by primates, specifically presiding at meetings of the bishops of a nation or region, are now vested in the president of the national conference of bishops. With the exception of the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, these presidents are elected by the other bishops of the conference for a fixed term in office. Other former functions of primates, such as hearing appeals from metropolitan tribunals, are now reserved to the Holy See.
The closest equivalent position in the Eastern Catholic Churches is an exarch. In the order of precedence of the Catholic Church, primates and exarchs may rank immediately below major archbishops, and precede metropolitan archbishops. Primates who have been made cardinals follow the precedence established for cardinals, unlike the higher ranks enjoying no precedence, not even the right to join a high order of the sacred college.
- Past Primates
- Toledo - Visogoths, Spain
- Lyons, Primate of the Gauls (Laughmenses)
- Bourges, Primate of Aquitaine
- Vienne, Primate of Primates
- Bordeaux, Primate of Aquitaine
- Rouen, Normandy, France
- Catholic Church in Ireland
- Armagh, Primate of All Ireland
- Dublin, Primate of Ireland
- St. Andrews, Scotland
- Lund, Scandinavian
- Sens, primate of the Gauls and Germany
- Carthage, Africa (with out title)
- Recognized primates as of Vatican Council
- Salzburg, Germany
- Antivari, primatial see of Serbia
- São Salvador da Bahia, Primate of Brazil
- Gniezno, Poland
- Tarragona, Spain
- Gran, Hungary
- Mechlin, Belgium (1560)
- Armagh, All Ireland
- Prague, Bohemia
- Venice, for Dalmatia
- Carthage, Africa
- Dublin, Ireland
- Westminster, England and Wales
Other related articles:
... The closest equivalent position in the Eastern Churches in 1911 was an exarch ... Primates Carthage, Africa ancient, Pope Leo IX 1893 Prague - Bohemia (1344-), Buenos Aires, Argentina (the title was granted under Pope Pius XI on 29 January 1936) ...
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