prelate

Latin: praelatus, the preferred

Originally the word was applied to bishops who ruled the Church by Divine right. Apart from this usage we have a prelate nullius, who presides over the clergy and people of a certain territory, which does not belong to any diocese. Some abbots, although not bishops, are called prelates, and have the jurisdiction of a prelate nullius, e.g., the Abbey of Einsiedeln, Switzerland. In exempt religious orders, all superiors having an ordinary jurisdiction rank as prelates. e.g., provincials, guardians, and priors.