Primates (religion) - Roman Catholic Church - Latin-Rite Churches

Latin-Rite Churches

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 neighbouring 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 exception is Poland, where the new statute of the 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 exercised by the president of the conference of bishops: "The president of the Conference or, when he is lawfully impeded, the vice-president, presides not only over the general meetings of the Conference but also over the permanent committee." The president is generally elected by the conference, but by exception the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference is appointed by the Pope, and the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference has the Primate of All Ireland as President and the Primate of Ireland as Vice-President. Other former functions of primates, such as hearing appeals from metropolitan tribunals, were reserved to the Holy See by the early 20th century. Soon after, by the norm of the Code of Canon Law of 1917, confirmed in the 1983 Code, the tribunal of second instance for appeals from a metropolitan tribunal is "the tribunal which the metropolitan has designated in a stable manner with the approval of the Apostolic See".

The closest equivalent position in the Eastern Churches in 1911 was an exarch.

  • 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).
  • England and Wales
    • Canterbury, All England (597 - 1558)
    • York, England (-1558)
    • Westminster, (1911, 'chief metropolitan')
  • France
    • Aquitaine
      • Bordeaux
      • Bourges (8th century)
    • Gauls
      • Lyons- Gauls Laughmenses, of all Gauls
      • Arles, Gaul and Spain
    • Reims
    • Vienne, Burgundy, Primate of Primates
    • Narbonne
    • Bordeaux
    • Rouen - Normandy, France
  • Germany
    • Mayence, Germany 798-1802
    • Trier
    • Magdeburg
    • Sens, Gauls and Germany
  • Ireland
    • Armagh, All Ireland
    • Dublin, Ireland
  • Rome, Italy
  • Gniezno Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1418)
  • Portugal
    • Braga
  • Sardinia
    • Cagliari, (- 1158, 1409-)
    • Pisa, Sardinia & Corsica (1158-)
  • Lund, Scandinavian
  • Scotland
    • Dunkeld c. 844
    • Abernethy c 844-908
    • St Andrews 908-
  • Spain
    • Toledo - Visigothic Kingdom, Spain (Bull of 1088)
    • Santiago de Compostela
  • Palermo, Sicily
Recognized primates as of First Vatican Council
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Antivari, Serbia
  • Salerno
  • São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
  • Gniezno, Poland
  • Tarragona, Spain
  • Gran, Hungary
  • Mechlin, Belgium (1560)
  • Armagh, All Ireland
  • Venice, for Dalmatia
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Quebec, Canada
  • Baltimore, USA, given precedence at the request of the First Plenary Council of Baltimore, basically an honorific primate
  • Archbishop of Seoul, Korea

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