Primus inter pares is a Latin phrase meaning first among equals.It is typically used as an honorary title for someone who is formally equal to other members of their group but is accorded unofficial respect, traditionally owing to their seniority in office.
Historically, the princeps senatus of the Roman Senate was such a figure and initially bore only the distinction that he was allowed to speak first during debate. Also, Constantine the Great was given the role of primus inter pares. However, the term is also often used ironically or self-deprecatingly by leaders with much higher status as a form of respect, camaraderie or propaganda.[ citation needed ] After the fall of the Republic, Roman emperors initially referred to themselves only as princeps despite having enormous power.
Various modern figures such as the chair of the United States Federal Reserve System, the prime minister of parliamentary countries, the President of Switzerland, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the Philippines, the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Communion and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall under both senses: bearing higher status and various additional powers while remaining still merely equal to their peers in important senses.
In the People's Republic of China, which was placed under the collective leadership of the Politburo Standing Committee following the death of Chairman Mao Zedong, the term "first among equals" was often used to describe China's paramount leader at the zenith of Deng Xiaoping's influence. This has fallen out of favour since the consolidation of power under the current core leader, General Secretary Xi Jinping.
In the federal Commonwealth realms, Canada and Australia, in which King Charles III is head of state as constitutional monarch, a governor-general is appointed by the King-in-Council to represent the King during his absence. The governor-general typically appoints the leader of the political party holding at least a plurality of seats in the elected legislature to be prime minister, whose relationship with the other ministers of the Crown is in theory said to be that of a primus inter pares, or "first among equals". This is also done at the provincial or state level wherein the lieutenant governors of the Canadian provinces or governors of the Australian states as Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council appoints the leader of the provincial or state political party holding at least a plurality of seats in the elected provincial or state legislature to be provincial premier or state premier.[ citation needed ]
As federations in Canada, lieutenant-governors represent the Canadian monarch in each of the provinces, thus, acting as the "heads of state" in the provinces.[ citation needed ] Unlike in Australia with the governors of the Australian states, the lieutenant-governors in Canada are not appointed by the King-in-Council, but by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister of Canada known as the Governor-in-Council. Similarly, in Australia, there are governors to represent the Australian monarch in each of the states of Australia that comprise the federal Commonwealth of Australia, making them "head of state" in each of their own states.[ citation needed ] In each case, these several governors or lieutenant-governors are not envisaged as subordinate to the governor general – the governor-general of Australia and the governor general of Canada – as a federal viceroy – is "first among equals".
Mayors of German city states have traditionally acted as primus inter pares. In Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen, which had been Free Imperial Cities from the times of the Holy Roman Empire, the government was called Senate. The mayor was one senator amongst many, often referred to as president of the Senate rather than mayor. This ended in Lübeck with the incorporation into Prussia in 1937. While in a constitutional reform in 1996, the mayor of Hamburg was given broad powers to shape the politics of the Senate of Hamburg, thus, ending his status as primus inter pares. However, in the city state Free Hanseatic City of Bremen which was created after the Second World War, the mayor has had a similar role in the Senate of Bremen. The same was true until 1995 for the governing mayor of Berlin among his colleagues within the Senate of Berlin.[ citation needed ]
Starting with the Meiji Constitution of 1885, as part of the "Cabinet System Act", and lasting until the revision of the modern constitution in 1947, the prime minister of Japan was legally considered to be of the same rank as the other ministers who formed the Cabinet. During this time, the prime minister was referred to as "同輩中の首席" dōhai-chū no shuseki ("chief among peers").
The prime minister of the Netherlands (officially, the "minister-president") is the chairman of the Council of Ministers and active executive authority of the Dutch government. Although formally no special powers are assigned, the prime minister functions as the "face" of the cabinet of the Netherlands. Usually, the prime minister is also minister of General Affairs. Until 1945, the position of chairman of the Council of Ministers officially switched between the ministers, although practices differed throughout history. In 1945, the position was formally instituted. Although not formally necessary, the prime minister in practice is the leader of the largest party in the majority coalition in the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament.
The phrase "first among equals" is often used to describe the political succession within the ruling People's Action Party leadership and future candidate for the prime minister of Singapore.
In Switzerland, the seven-member Federal Council constitutes the government. Each year, the Federal Assembly elects a president of the Confederation. By convention, the positions of President and Vice President rotate annually, each Councillor thus becoming Vice President and then President every seven years while in office.
The president is not the Swiss head of state, but is the highest-ranking Swiss official. The president presides over Council meetings and carries out certain representative functions that, in other countries, are the business of the head of state. In urgent situations where a Council decision cannot be made in time, the president is empowered to act on behalf of the whole Council. Apart from that, though, the president is a primus inter pares, having no power above and beyond the other six councillors.
The term "prime minister" can be compared to "primary minister" or "first minister". Because of this, the prime ministers of many countries are traditionally considered[ by whom? ] to be "first among equals" – they are the chairman or "head" of a Cabinet rather than holding an office that is de jure superior to that of ministers.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has frequently been described as "first among equals". In the UK, the executive is the Cabinet, and during Hanoverian times a minister had the role of informing the monarch about proposed legislation in the House of Commons and other matters. In modern times, however, although the phrase is still occasionally used, it understates the powers of the prime minister, which now include many broad, exclusive, executive powers over which cabinet members have little influence.
First Among Equals is the title of a popular political novel (1984) by Jeffrey Archer, about the careers and private lives of several men vying to become British Prime Minister. It was later adapted into a ten-part TV series, produced by Granada Television.
Countries and jurisdictions that have adapted the British parliamentary system (such as Canada and Australia) would have the same use for the phrase.
The phrase "first among equals" has also been used to describe the Chief Justice of the United States.
The Chief Justice has no authority over the decisions of the other Justices, but holds one key administrative power: when the Chief Justice votes with the majority on a decision, he can either author the majority opinion himself or assign it to another Justice voting with the majority.
In many private parliamentary bodies, such as clubs, boards, educational faculty, and committees, the officer or member who holds the position of chair or chairman is often regarded as a "first among equals". That is, while most rules of order will grant the chair special powers within the context of a meeting, the position of chair is usually temporary, rotating, and powerless in other contexts, making the occupant merely a temporary leader required to instil order. This is the case for mayors under a council–manager government, as the "mayor" has the same vote as all other council members and cannot override them, although their opinion may have more sway among other members.
The phrase "first among equals" is also used to describe the role of the patriarch of Constantinople, who, as the "ecumenical patriarch", is the first among all the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He has no direct jurisdiction over the other patriarchs or the other autocephalous Orthodox churches and cannot interfere in the election of bishops in autocephalous churches, but he alone enjoys the right of convening extraordinary synods consisting of them or their delegates to deal with ad hoc situations, and he has also convened well-attended pan-Orthodox Synods in the last forty years. His title is an acknowledgement of his historic significance and of his privilege to serve as primary spokesman for the Eastern Orthodox Communion. His moral authority is highly respected.
The Eastern Orthodox Church also uses the term "first among equals" in regard to the bishop of Rome during the first thousand years of Christianity. [ by whom? ] first among the Orthodox patriarchs, the Orthodox Church considers the bishop of Rome (regarded as the "patriarch of the West") the "first among equals" in the Pentarchy of the patriarchal sees according to the ancient, first millennial order (or "taxis" in Greek) of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, established after Constantinople became the eastern capital of the Byzantine Empire. The bishop of Rome no longer holds this distinction in the Orthodox Church because, following the East–West Schism, he is no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.Whereas the patriarch of Constantinople is now considered
The canons relative to the universal primacy of honor of the patriarch of Constantinople are the 9th canon of the synod of Antiochand the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon.
The Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches consider the pope (bishop of Rome) to be the single Vicar of Christ, successor of Saint Peter, and leader of all their bishops (Patriarchs included), in Apostolic succession to the apostles. As such, the Catholic Church does not see the pope merely as being "first among equals", but as actually holding an office with supreme authority in canon law over all other bishops. This jurisdictional claim was one of the main causes of the East-West Schism in the Church, which became formal in 1054.
In the Catholic Church, the Dean of the College of Cardinals is the first among equal Prince of the Church in the College, which is the pope's highest-ranking council and elects the papal successor, generally from its own ranks.
Various episcopal sees were granted or claim the title of primate (usually of a past or present political entity), which grants such a primas (usually a metropolitan archbishopric, often in a former/present capital) precedence over all other sees in its circumscription, outranking (other) metropolitan sees, but the incumbent primates can be trumped by personal ranks, as they rank below cardinals. More commonly, dioceses are geographically grouped in an ecclesiastical province, where only one holds the rank of metropolitan archbishop, which outranks his colleagues, who are therefore called his suffragans, even if these include (fairly rarely) another archbishop.
According to the Anglican Covenant, the archbishop of Canterbury is "first among equals" in his presidency over the Anglican Communion.The senior bishop of the seven diocesan bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church bears the truncated title primus from primus inter pares. Leading bishops or primates in other Anglican 'national' churches are often said to be primus inter pares within their provinces (e.g. Church of Ireland), while the (first) primatial see of Canterbury remains primus among them.
Based on the antiquity with which ecumenical councils have conceded some kind of universal primacy to the bishops of Rome, participants in Anglican–Catholic dialogues have acknowledged for decades that the pope would properly serve as the titular leader of a reunited church; the Anglicans typically have in mind an honorary (non-jurisdictional) primacy such as the phrase "primus inter pares" implies. In one example of such acknowledgement, the International Anglican-Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, in its 2007 agreed statement Growing Together in Unity and Mission, "urge[s] Anglicans and Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our Communions to grow towards full, ecclesial communion".
The Moderator of the General Assembly in a Presbyterian church is similarly designated as a primus inter pares. This concept holds also for the Moderators of each Synod, Presbytery, and Kirk Session. As all elders are ordained – some for teaching and some for ruling – none sit in higher status, but all are considered[ by whom? ] equal behind the one and only head of the church Jesus Christ.
In the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the Archbishop of Uppsala is considered by the church as primus inter pares.As such, the Archbishop of Uppsala has no powers over the other 13 bishops but has some additional administrative and spiritual duties, as specified in the Church Order of the Church of Sweden.
According to the chapter 8 of the Church Order, only the Archbishop of Uppsala can ordain a bishop. The other bishops of the Church of Sweden are peers, not superior, to the Archbishop of Uppsala. Among the Archbishop of Uppsala's other duties is the obligation to convene and chair the Episcopal Assembly. Unlike the other bishops, who are elected to office by members of their diocese, the Archbishop of Uppsala is elected by the entire body of the church. There is a peculiar regulation that stipulates that the total votes cast in the archdiocese of Uppsala, when electing an archbishop, "shall be divided by ten, with decimals removed", before being added to the national vote.
The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and a principal leader of the Church of England, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.
A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of authority and oversight in a religious institution.
An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. It is the structure used by many of the major Christian Churches and denominations, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops via local synods. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the head of the Roman Catholic Church—the Pope—but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognized by them as primus inter pares, which may be explained as a representative of the church. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The Eastern Orthodox Church officially calls itself the Orthodox Catholic Church.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is a communion comprising the seventeen separate autocephalous (self-governing) hierarchical churches that recognise each other as canonical (regular) Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.
The ecumenical patriarch is the archbishop of Constantinople (Istanbul), New Rome and primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches which compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. The ecumenical patriarch is regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of many Orthodox Christians worldwide. The term ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.
The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church, the Hussite Church, Church of the East, and some Independent Catholic Churches are termed patriarchs.
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.
The East–West Schism is the ongoing break of communion since 1054 between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. It is estimated that, immediately after the schism occurred, a slim majority of Christians worldwide were Eastern Christians comprised; most of the rest were Western Christians. The schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between Eastern and Western Christianity that had developed during the preceding centuries.
A presiding bishop is an ecclesiastical position in some denominations of Christianity.
The Catholic Church has engaged in the modern ecumenical movement especially since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the issuing of the decree Unitatis redintegratio and the declaration Dignitatis humanae. It was at the Council that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was created. Those outside of the Catholic Church were categorised as heretics or schismatics, but in many contexts today, in order to avoid offence, the euphemism "separated brethren" is used.
The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.
The historic or historical episcopate comprises all episcopates, that is, it is the collective body of all the bishops of a church who are in valid apostolic succession. This succession is transmitted from each bishop to their successors by the rite of Holy Orders. It is sometimes subject of episcopal genealogy.
Primates in the Anglican Communion are the most senior bishop or archbishop of one of the 41 churches of the Anglican Communion. The Church of England, however, has two primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.
Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils—the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the Council of Ephesus. They reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. Hence, these Churches are also called Old Oriental Churches or Non-Chalcedonian Churches.
The East–West Schism that occurred in 1054 represents one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. It includes various events and processes that led to the schism and also those events and processes that occurred as a result of the schism. Eastern and Western Christians had a history of differences and disagreements, some dating back to the period of Early Christianity. At the very root of what later became the Great Schism were several questions of pneumatology and ecclesiology. The most important theological difference occurred over various questions regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the use of the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. One of the main ecclesiological issues was the question of papal supremacy. Other points of difference were related to various liturgical, ritual, and disciplinary customs and practices. Some political and cultural processes also contributed to the breakout of the schism.
Sister churches was a term used in 20th-century ecclesiology to describe ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and more rarely and unofficially, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican communion. The Catholic Church has since called on theologians to avoid the term, clarifying that "one cannot properly say that the Catholic Church is 'sister' of a particular Church or group of Churches. This is not merely a question of terminology, but above all of respecting a basic truth of the Catholic faith: that of the unicity [uniqueness] of the [Catholic Church]." The term is also currently used among Protestants to refer to different denominations of the same religious tradition.
Catholic–Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical differences are differences between the organizational structure and governance of the Catholic Church and that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. These are distinguished from theological differences which are differences in dogma and doctrine. A number of disagreements over matters of Ecclesiology developed slowly between the Western and Eastern wings of the State church of the Roman Empire centered upon the cities of Rome and New Rome/Constantinople respectively. The disputes were a major factor in the formal East-West Schism between Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael I in 1054 and are largely still unresolved between the churches today.
Canon 9. The presiding Bishop in a metropolis must be recognized by the Bishops belonging to each province (or eparchy), and undertakei the cure of the entire province, because of the fact that all who have any kind of business to attend to are wont to come from all quarters to the metropolis. Hence it has seemed best to let him have precedence in respect of honor, and to let the rest of the Bishops do nothing extraordinary without him, in accordance with the ancient Canon of the Fathers which has been prevailing, or only those things which are imposed upon the parish of each one of them and upon the territories under it.
Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her.