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The Protopriest of the College of Cardinals (Italian: protopresbitero, and, rare, Italian: protoprete) — in the College of Cardinals, is the first Cardinal-Priest in the order of precedence, hence directly after the Cardinal-bishops.

This title is always attached to the most senior Cardinal Priest according to date of his creation. From the 17th century until the end of 19th century, the Protopriest usually opted for the Titular church (titulus) of San Lorenzo in Lucina.[1]

The protopriest has the honor of pronouncing the formal prayer for the new pope at the papal inauguration after the protodeacon (most senior Cardinal deacon) bestows the pallium and before the Dean of the College of Cardinals (most senior Cardinal-bishop) presents the Ring of the Fisherman: this happened at the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI.[2] This did not happen at the inauguration of Pope Francis due to the absence of the protopriest.[3][4] [5][lower-alpha 1]

The current Protopriest is Brazilian cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns.

Protopriests since 1938



  1. The protopriest Paulo Evaristo Arns was not present at the inauguration and his duties were instead discharged by the senior cardinal-priest from the cardinal-electors, Godfried Danneels, Archbishop-Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels.


See also