( Latin præcedere , to go before another).
Precedence signifies the right to enjoy a prerogative of honour before other persons ; e.g. to have the most distinguished place in a procession, a ceremony, or an assembly, to have the right to express an opinion, cast a vote, or append a signature before others, to perform the most honourable offices.
Questions of precedence sometimes give rise to controversies. In both civil and ecclesiastical legislation they are regulated by laws and rules. In canon law the general rule is that precedence is determined by rank in the hierarchy both of jurisdiction and of order. Where rank is equal it is determined by priority of foundation: Qui prior est tempore, potior est jure (Regula juris 54, in VI). With regard to colleges ( collegia ), precedence is determined by the quality of the person to whom the college is attached. The order of precedence is regulated as follows: the pope always takes first rank, after him come cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, exempt bishops, suffragan bishops, titular bishops, and prelates nullius. In these categories priority of ordination and promotion determines precedence, among bishops or archbishops the date of their first promotion to the episcopal or archiepiscopal dignity. Custom or privilege may derogate from this rule. A Decree of Propaganda (15 Aug., 1858) grants to the Archbishop of Baltimore the right of precedence in the United States (Collectio Lacensis, III, 572). In their own dioceses bishops have precedence before strange bishops and archbishops, but not before their own metropolitan. Metropolitan chapters have precedence before cathedral chapters, and the latter before collegiate chapters. The secular clergy according to the importance of their office or the date of their ordination precede the regular clergy. Canons regular take the first place among the regular clergy, then come clerics regular, the monastic orders, and the mendicant orders. Among the mendicants the Dominicans take first place outside of processions ; in processions, the acquired right of precedence or that appertaining to priority of establishment in a town must be respected. This last rule applies also to confraternities, but in processions of the Blessed Sacrament the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament has precedence. The Third Orders have precedence of confraternities. Questions of precedence at funerals have given rise to numerous decisions of the Congregation of Rites (see "Decreta S.S. Rituum Congregationis", Rome, 1901, V, Index generalis, V Præcedentia ). The provisory solution of questions of precedence in processions arising between regulars belongs to the diocesan bishop. The Congregation of Rites decides concerning those with regard to liturgical ceremonies ; the Congregatio Cæremonialis regulates the precedence of the papal court.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online