An ordinary (from Latin ordinarius) is an officer of a church or civic authority who by reason of office has ordinary power to execute laws. Such officers are found in hierarchically organised churches of Western Christianity which have an ecclesiastical law system. For example, diocesan bishops are ordinaries in the Roman Catholic church and the Church of England. In Eastern Christianity, a corresponding officer is called a hierarch (from Greek hierarkhēs “president of sacred rites, high-priest” which comes in turn from τὰ ἱερά ta hiera, “the sacred rites” and ἄρχω arkhō, “I rule”). Within civic governance, notably in the southern United States, the role of the county ordinary historically involved the discharge of certain, often legal or legally related, tasks falling to city or county authorities, such as licensing marriages and adjudicating claims against an authority.
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