Ireland and the Primacy of Primates

On ZENIT there is an article on Archbp. Martin of Dublin, the sexual abuse scandal, and Church and state relations.

In the course of the article Archbp. Martin is called “Primate of Ireland”.

“But Father! But Father!”, some will say.  “Isn’t the Archbishop of Armagh the Primate of Ireland? What gives?”

It seems the Archbishop of Dublin is, in fact, the Primate of Ireland while the Archbishop of Armagh is the Primate of ALL Ireland.

The dispute over who had the distinction was decided by Pope Innocent VI in 1353.  The Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, has the seniority.

In England there is something similar.  There was the Primate of England, the Archbishop of York, and the Primate of All England, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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  1. PostCatholic says:

    Perhaps you’ll also clear up the “Pro-Cathedral” nomenclature that often confuses people about Dublin and other cities in Ireland.

  2. uptoncp says:

    I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that there are several French prelates who use the title “Primate of All Gaul.”

  3. Dr. Eric says:

    Doesn’t the Archbishop of Dublin’s title refer to the Republic, while the Archbishop of Armagh’s title refers to the entire island?

    I’ve read that the Abp. of Canterbury was offered the title of Patriarch if the Anglicans would have rejoined the Church somewhere in the 18th Century.

  4. Patricius says:

    PostCatholic – the prefix “pro” of Pro-Cathedral means “pro tempore” (“for the time being”). [Perhaps “in the place of”.] The official cathedral of the Archdiocese of Dublin is Christchurch Cathedral – however this cathedral has been illegally occupied by the Anglicans since the “Reformation” (along with Dublin’s other cathedral, St Patrick’s). Despite this occupation over several centuries, no archbishop of Dublin has ever asked the Pope to revoke the cathedral status of Christchurch – unless and until this happens, the Archdiocese of Dublin cannot give another church full cathedral status, thus there can only be a temporary mother-church for the Archdiocese – a Pro-Cathedral. It is affectionately known by Dubliners as “the Pro”, so even if it’s granted full cathedral status at some stage, it will always be “the Pro”!

  5. disco says:

    Dr Eric, no both titles refer to the whole island, or at least I think they must. Both titles are from like the 1400s so they predate the partition which I think was in 1922.

  6. medievalist says:

    Although the struggle for primacy between York and Canterbury has a long history of back and forth. Not my particular area, but I believe it was only before the Conquest, as well as near or after the Henrician reformation that there existed a distinction between the two primates. In the intervening period, that is for most of the high middle ages, both archbishops were styled “primate of England” and regularly excommunicated the each other for travelling through the diocese not his own with the primatial cross born before him. Laity were forbidden to kneel to the travelling archbishop or receive his blessing also upon pain of excommunication.

  7. uptoncp says:

    Wikipedia, agreeing with what I recall from elsewhere, says that it was Innocent VI who settled the English precedence as well. Prior to that, I think that York had also used a pallium as its arms, as currently borne by both Canterbury and Westminster, but then changed to the crossed keys and Papal tiara (now a crown) for S Peter, titular of York Minster – I presume because Archbishops of York were no longer to be granted a pallium.

  8. Tim says:

    Here in Belgium we always believed that the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels was the Primate of Belgium, the metropolitan see of Malines having been erected in 1559 by Paul III. Lately I read an article in ‘Dimanche’, the ridiculous weekly paper of the French-speaking dioceses, that this title had disappeared as part of the post-conciliar reforms. I regard most of the pronouncements in ‘Dimanche’ with scepticism and am pleased that the FSSP community in Belgium still refers to Archbishop Léonard as the Primate of Belgium.

  9. Iconophilios says:

    In Canada, we have a primate in Quebec. Is there a primatial see in America? I have wondered about this.

  10. irishgirl says:

    Iconopolis-I would think that the primatial see in America is Baltimore, since that was the first diocese to be set up in the USA.

  11. jaykay says:

    Patricius: Christcurch briefly became Catholic again during the “glorious revolution” of 1688-89. There is still a (wooden) tabernacle and two candlesticks on display in the crypt from that period. The history of Dublin’s cathedrals is interesting. There’s another one as well, not quite as old but bigger and just 10 minutes’ walk away. It’s St. Patrick’s, of which Jonathan Swift was Dean.

  12. FranzJosf says:

    The first see in the US is Baltimore, but the Archbishop is not called the Primate.

    Nor do we have Cathedral chapters; instead we have priests’ councils, not sure why.

    (Neither are there any collegiate churches in the US, that I’m aware of. Does Canada have cathedral chapters and collegiate churches, with chapters? If this is creating a rabbit hole, sorry.)

  13. PostCatholic says:

    Thanks Patricius.

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