Patriarchs and Primates.
Although, by divine institution and ordination, Bishops are all equal, yet Ecclesiastical Law has introduced certain modifications in episcopal authority, by virtue of which, some Bishops are superior to others, exercising over them a real authority, a participation, as it were, of the supreme Prelacy of the Sovereign Pontiff. Such are Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops' or Metropolitans. (a)
Literally, the word Patriarch means a "Chief of Fathers." The appellation is very ancient. The title of the early Bishops being that of "Father," their leaders were quite naturally called "Patriarchs."
This title of Patriarch was first given to the Bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, three episcopal sees the foundation of which is ascribed to St. Peter. (b)
To these three patriarchal sees were soon added the bishopric of Jerusalem, on account of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, and the bishopric of Constantinople, on account of the new importance given to the city as the residence of the Roman Emperor. (c)
But since the cities, in which the Eastern patriarchal sees were established, have fallen under the domination of infidels or schismatics, the Popes, in order to keep alive the memory of these illustrious sees, have continued to appoint Latin Patriarchs, who enjoy not only the titles of these sees, but the prerogatives and privileges of the patriarchal rank as well. However, they have no jurisdiction over the territory of their patriarchates. These great Prelates are called "Titular Patriarchs." (d) Pius IX. made an exception to the usual practice, when he allowed the. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem a residence in his patriarchal city, and invested him with metropolitan jurisdiction over Jerusalem and its vicinity. (e)
Besides these Latin patriarchs, there are, in the East, Catholic patriarchs of the different rites, all of them having over their subjects the same traditional authority as the ancient patriarchs of the Eastern Church. Such are: the Patriarch of Antioch for the Melchites, residence at Damascus; the Patriarch of Alexandria for the Copts, residence at Cairo (Egypt); the Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites, residence at Bikorchi (Lebanon); the Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrians, residence also at Bikorchi; the Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans, residence at Mossul (Mesopotamia), and the Patriarch of Cilicia for the Armenians, residence at Constantinople. (f)
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Primates were Bishops having authority or jurisdiction over the Archbishops of a country or of a considerable portion of a country. Nowadays, the jurisdiction of Primates has practically ceased, though some Bishops have kept the title, a merely honorary one. Such, for instance, are the Archbishop of Armagh, "Primate of All Ireland;" the Archbishop of Dublin, "Primate of Ireland;" the Archbishop of Lyons, "Primate of Gaul;" the Archbishop of Gran, "Primate of Hungary," etc. (h) In the Eastern Church, the corresponding title was that of Exarch (i)
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(a) Pius IX., Constit Reversurus (July 9, 1867).
(b) Phillips, Du droit ecclesiastique, Tome II., p. 25.
(c) Phillips, loc, cit.
(d) Bennetis, Privil. S, Petri, p. 134.— Phillips, op. cit, Tome II., p. 45.
(e) Constit. Nulla celebrior, July 22, 1847 (Pius IX.).
(f) Mgr. Battandier, Annuaire Pontifical, 1906.—See also Gerarchia, yearly.
(g) Phillips, loc. cit, p. 47.— Battandier, op. cit.
(h) Bouix, De Episc, Part IV., sect 1, chap. 2.
(i) Ferraris, Bibliotheca canonica, art.