Order of precedence in the Catholic Church

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The order of precedence in the Catholic Church is contingent upon the organisation of its hierarchy, including of jurisdictions, orders, and honorary titles.[disambiguation needed]

This article gives the order in force in 1911, as indicated in the Catholic Encyclopedia, with which is mixed in other material for which no evidence is provided. The order of precedence was actually not of the Catholic Church but really of the Papal court of the Holy See.[citation needed] Nevertheless, it is generally followed throughout the Catholic Church.

Order of precedence

Cardinals and nuncios have higher status not based on their ecclesiastical status but under international protocol as princes and ambassadors, respectively. For the same reason, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta ranks immediately below the cardinals.


In this group, priority of ordination and promotion determines precedence, among bishops or archbishops the date of their first promotion to the episcopal or archiepiscopal dignity.

  1. Patriarchs[1]
    1. Major patriarchal sees by Pentarchy order. For those of the same See, they then use the date of Preconization[2]
      1. The Pope, Patriarch of Rome
      2. Patriarch of Constantinople [when in communion]
      3. Patriarchs of Alexandria
        1. The Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria and
        2. The Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, of Alexandria and Jerusalem Ad honorem
      4. Patriarchs of Antioch
        1. The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch
        2. The Syrian Patriarch of Antioch
    2. Minor patriarchal sees[2]
      1. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylonia
      2. The Armenian Patriarch of Cilicia[2]
    3. Patriarchs emeritus, in the same order
      1. Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop emeritus of Rome
  2. Cardinals[1]
    1. Cardinal-Bishops
      1. Dean of the Sacred College
      2. Vice-Dean of the Sacred College
      3. Other Cardinal-Bishops of Suburbicarian Sees (by date of elevation)
      4. Patriarchal Cardinal-Bishops
    2. Cardinal-presbyters (by date of elevation, and then by order of listing in the consistory)
      1. Cardinal Protopresbyter
      2. Other Cardinal-Presbyters
    3. Cardinal-Deacons (by date of elevation, and then by order of listing in the consistory)
      1. Cardinal Protodeacon
      2. Other Cardinal-Deacons
  3. Major Archbishops[3]
    1. The Major Archbishop of Kiev–Galicia (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church)
    2. The Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabar Church)
    3. The Major Archbishop of Trivandrum (Syro-Malankara Catholic Church)
    4. The Major Archbishop of Făgăraş and Alba Julia (Romanian Greek Catholic Church)
  4. Titular Patriarchs
    1. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
    2. The Latin Patriarch of Venice
    3. The Latin Patriarch of the West Indies (vacant since 1963)
    4. The Latin Patriarch of Lisbon
    5. The Latin Patriarch of the East Indies[2]
  5. Apostolic Nuncio of the country
  6. Primates or Presidents of the National Conference of Bishops
  7. Metropolitan Archbishops[1]
  8. Host Diocesan Bishop[1]
    1. Archbishops[1]
    2. Coadjutor Archbishops
    3. Titular Archbishops
  9. Bishops
    1. Diocesan Bishops
      1. Exempt
      2. Suffragan[1]
    2. Coadjutor Bishops
    3. Titular Bishops (includes auxiliaries, curia staff, and diplomats)[1]
  10. Prelate nullius[1]
    1. Abbot nullius
    2. Vicar apostolic & Exarch apostolic
    3. Prefect apostolic
  11. Apostolic administrator
  12. Prelate of Personal prelature
  13. Ordinary of Personal ordinariate


Secular clergy (according to the importance of their office or the date of their ordination )[1]

  1. Priest administrators /vicar capitular
  2. Vicars General or Archdeacons
  3. Vicars episcopal
    1. A lay ecclesial minister serving as Secretary or Director of a diocesan dicastery deemed equivalent
  4. Protonotary apostolic (Monsignor)
    1. De Numero
    2. Supranumerary
  5. Honorary Prelates of His Holiness (Monsignor)
  6. Chaplains of His Holiness (Monsignor)
  7. Chapters
    1. Metropolitan bishop
    2. Cathedral
    3. Collegiate[1]
  8. Vicars forane, Deans, Archpriests and Diocesan Consultors
  9. Pastors
    1. A lay ecclesial minister serving as Pastoral Coordinator of a parish deemed equivalent[4]
  10. Parochial vicars[5]
    1. A lay ecclesial minister serving as Pastoral Associate
    2. A lay ecclesial minister serving as Pastoral Assistant
  11. Deacons (Permanent/Ordinary)
  12. religious institute[1]
    1. Clerics regular
    2. Monastic orders
    3. Mendicant orders[1]
    4. Transitional deacons

Instituted ministries

At times called minor orders, the following are not clergy in the Catholic Church but nevertheless exercise approved ministry and offices.

  1. Acolytes
  2. Lectors
  1. Candidates for ministry
    1. Seminarians
    2. Deacon candidates
    3. Candidates for Lay Ecclesial Ministry

Religious institutes

  1. Superiors General of religious institutes
  2. Assistants Superiors General
    1. Procurator-general
    2. Definitors-general
  3. Provincial superior, Provincial prior, Archimandrite
  4. Religious superior - Monastic superiors
    1. Abbot
    2. conventual prior
    3. Obedientiary prior
  5. Second
    1. Claustral prior or Deans
    2. Sub-prior
  6. Archimandrite, honorary
  7. Hieromonks (priests of religious institutes)
  8. Religious Brothers and Sisters[6]


Precedence with chapters:

  1. Dean/Provost or other heads of chapters
  2. Other officers (treasurer, a secretary, and a sacristan, canon theologian, canon penitentiary)
  3. capitulars or canons[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Precedence". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Patriarch and Patriarchate". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  3. ^ "Major Archbishops". Catholic Dioceses of the World. GCatholic.org. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  4. ^ CIC §517.2
  5. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Hierarchy". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  6. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Religious Life". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  7. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Chapter". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 

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