Patriarch of Constantinople
Overview
 
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

(first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox communion
Eastern Orthodox Church organization
This article covers the organization of the Eastern Orthodox Churches rather than the doctrines, traditions, practices, or other aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy...

, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has been historically known as the Greek
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 Patriarch of Constantinople, as distinct from the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople also known as Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul is today head of The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople , one of the smallest Patriarchates of the Oriental Orthodox Church but one that has exerted a very significant political role and today still exercises...

 and the ancient Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
The Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was an office established as a result of Crusader activity in the Near East. The title should not be confused with that of the Patriarch of Constantinople, an office which existed before and after....

. Historically, within the five ecumenical sees of Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

, the patriarch is regarded as the successor of Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

, the Apostle.
Encyclopedia
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

(first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox communion
Eastern Orthodox Church organization
This article covers the organization of the Eastern Orthodox Churches rather than the doctrines, traditions, practices, or other aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy...

, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has been historically known as the Greek
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 Patriarch of Constantinople, as distinct from the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople also known as Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul is today head of The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople , one of the smallest Patriarchates of the Oriental Orthodox Church but one that has exerted a very significant political role and today still exercises...

 and the ancient Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
The Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was an office established as a result of Crusader activity in the Near East. The title should not be confused with that of the Patriarch of Constantinople, an office which existed before and after....

. Historically, within the five ecumenical sees of Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

, the patriarch is regarded as the successor of Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

, the Apostle. The current holder of the office is Bartholomew I.

The Turkish government
Politics of Turkey
Politics of Turkey takes place in a framework of a strictly secular parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Turkey is the head of government, and of a multi-party system...

 recognises him as the spiritual leader of the Greek minority in Turkey, and refer to him as the Greek (lit.
Literal translation
Literal translation, or direct translation, is the rendering of text from one language to another "word-for-word" rather than conveying the sense of the original...

 Roman) Orthodox Patriarch of the Phanar . The Patriarch was subject to the authority of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, until the declaration of Turkish Republic in 1923. Today, according to the Turkish law, he is subject to the authority of the Republic of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and must be a citizen of Turkey to be elected Patriarch.

The Patriarch of Constantinople has been designated the Ecumenical Patriarch since the sixth century. The exact significance of the style, which has been used occasionally for other prelates since the middle of the fifth century, is nowhere officially defined but, according to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, the title has been criticized in the Catholic Church as incompatible with its own claims by the See of Rome.

Status in the Orthodox Church

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is first in honour among all the Eastern Orthodox bishops
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, presides in person - or through a delegate - over any council of Orthodox primates and/or bishops in which he takes part and serves as primary spokesman for the Orthodox communion, especially in ecumenical contacts with other Christian denominations. He has no direct jurisdiction over the other patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

s or the other autocephalous Orthodox churches, but he, alone among his fellow-primates, enjoys the right of convening extraordinary synods consisting of them and/or their delegates to deal with ad hoc situations and has also convened well-attended Pan-Orthodox Synods in the last forty years.

In addition to being the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, he is the direct administrative superior of dioceses and archdioceses serving millions of Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

, Rusyn
Rusyns
Carpatho-Rusyns are a primarily diasporic ethnic group who speak an Eastern Slavic language, or Ukrainian dialect, known as Rusyn. Carpatho-Rusyns descend from a minority of Ruthenians who did not adopt the use of the ethnonym "Ukrainian" in the early twentieth century...

 and Albanian
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

 believers in North
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 and parts of modern Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 which, for historical reasons, do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece
Church of Greece
The Church of Greece , part of the wider Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the autocephalous churches which make up the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

.

His actual position is Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, one of the fourteen autocephalous and several autonomous churches and the most senior (though not oldest) of the four orthodox ancient primatial sees among the five patriarchal Christian centers comprising the ancient Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

 of the undivided Church. In his role as head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, he also holds the title Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome
New Rome
The term "New Rome" has been used in the following contexts:* "Nova Roma" is traditionally reported to be the Latin name given by emperor Constantine the Great to the new imperial capital he founded in 324 at the city on the European coast of the Bosporus strait, known as Byzantium until then and...

.

He should not be confused with the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
The Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was an office established as a result of Crusader activity in the Near East. The title should not be confused with that of the Patriarch of Constantinople, an office which existed before and after....

, an office that is now extinct, and created after the Latin capture of Constantinople in 1204, during the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

. That office became effectively redundant after the city was recaptured by the Byzantine Greeks, half a century later. Thus he is also known, outside Orthodoxy, as the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. His official title is "His All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch".

Mount Athos

The monastic
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 communities of Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

 are stavropegial and are directly under the jurisdiction of Ecumenical Patriarch who is the only bishop with jurisdiction thereover. Athos, the "Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain” (“Αυτόνομη Μοναστικὴ Πολιτεία Ἁγίου Ὄρους”), is a self- governed part of the Greek state, subject to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its political aspect and to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinopole as regards its religious aspect.

Role in Orthodox episcopacy

The Ecumenical Patriarch has a unique role among Orthodox bishops, though it is not without its controversy. He is primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

("first among equals"), as he is senior among all Orthodox bishops. This primacy, expressed in canonical literature as presbeia ("prerogatives", literally: "seniorities"), grants to the Ecumenical Patriarch the right to preside at pan-Orthodox synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

s.

Additionally, the canonical literature of the Orthodox Church grants to the Ecumenical Patriarch the right to hear appeals in cases of dispute between bishops. However, whether these canonical rights are limited only to his own patriarchate or are universal throughout the Orthodox Church is the subject of debate, especially between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate.

Historically, the Ecumenical Patriarch has heard such appeals and sometimes was invited to intervene in other churches' disputes and difficulties. Even as early as the time of St. John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

 (5th century), Constantinople was instrumental in the deposition of multiple bishops outside its traditional jurisdiction. This still occurs today, as when in 2006 the patriarchate was invited to assist in declaring the Archbishop of the Cypriot Orthodox Church
Cypriot Orthodox Church
The Church of Cyprus is an autocephalous Greek church within the communion of Orthodox Christianity. It is one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox autocephalous churches, achieving independence from the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East in 431...

 incompetent due to his having Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

. Additionally, in 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarchate convoked a pan-Orthodox synod to express the Orthodox world's confirmation of the deposition of Patriarch Irenaios
Patriarch Irenaios
Irenaios Skopelitis was the 140th patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem from 2001 to 2005, though the dismissal was disputed...

 of Jerusalem. In 2006, the patriarchate was invited to hear the appeal of a Russian Orthodox bishop in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in a dispute with his superior in Moscow, though the result of that appeal - and the right to make it - were both rejected by the latter.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has no direct jurisdiction outside the Patriarchate of Constantinople granted to him in Orthodox canonical literature, but his primary function regarding the whole Orthodox Church is one of dealing with relations between autocephalous and autonomous churches. That is, his primary role is one of promoting and sustaining Church unity.

This unique role often sees the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to as the "spiritual leader" of the Orthodox Church in some sources, though this is not an official title of the patriarch nor is it usually used in scholarly sources on the patriarchate. Such a title is acceptable if it refers to this unique role, but it sometimes leads to the mistaken belief that the office is thus the equivalent of an Orthodox papacy. There is, however, no Orthodox notion equivalent to the papacy: the Orthodox churches operate in the synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

ical system, whereby ecclesiastical matters are settled by the competent synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 of bishops, in which each bishop has one vote. The five patriarchs of the ancient Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

 (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, in that order) are to be given seniority of honour, but have no actual power over other bishops other than the power of the synod they are chairing (and in which they also wield one vote).

In 2007, the Patriarch gave his approval to the Declaration of Ravenna
Declaration of Ravenna
The Declaration of Ravenna is a Roman Catholic–Eastern Orthodox document issued in 2007 re-asserting that the bishop of Rome is indeed the Protos, although future discussions are to be held on the concrete ecclesiological exercise of papal primacy....

, a Catholic–Orthodox document re-asserting that the Bishop of Rome is indeed the Prōtos ("First") of the Church, as in "first among equals" and not supreme, although future discussions are to be held on the concrete ecclesiological exercise of papal primacy. According to "Subsistit in" in Lumen Gentium, the Patriarch is a validly consecrated bishop in Roman ecclesiology, and there is merely an imperfect ecclesial communion between Constantinople and Rome, which exists nevertheless and which may be improved at some point in history.

Environmental work

Because of the work of Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios, who established September 1st as the day for the protection of the environment, and especially the ongoing work of the current Patriarch, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been given the title, "Green Patriarch". Thus, the person of Bartholomew and by extension the position of the Ecumenical Patriarch is now being viewed as a religious spokesperson on environmental issues and the "green" spiritual leader in the world.

Early history

The (arch)bishopric of Constantinople has had a continuous history since the founding of the city in 330 AD by Constantine the Great. After Constantine the Great had enlarged Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 to make it into a new capital city in 330, it was thought appropriate that its bishop, once a suffragan of Heraclea Pontica
Heraclea Pontica
Heraclea Pontica , an ancient city on the coast of Bithynia in Asia Minor, at the mouth of the river Lycus. It was founded by the Greek city-state of Megara c.560-558 and was named after Heracles who the Greeks believed entered the underworld at a cave on the adjoining Archerusian promontory .The...

 and traditionally a successor of Saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 Andrew the Apostle, should become second only to the Bishop of Old Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Soon after the transfer of the Roman capital, the bishopric was elevated to an archbishopric. For many decades the heads of the church of Rome opposed this ambition, not because anyone thought of disputing their first place, but because they defended the 'Petrine principle' by which all Patriarchates were derived from Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 and were unwilling to violate the old order of the hierarchy
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

 for political reasons.

In 381, the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 declared that "The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honour after the Bishop of Rome, because it is New Rome" (canon iii). The Patriarchs refused to confirm this canon
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

. Nonetheless, the prestige of the office continued to grow not only because of the obvious patronage of the Byzantine Emperor but because of its overwhelming physical and geographical importance. In practice, the Bishop of Rome eventually acknowledged this situation.

The Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451 established Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 as a patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

 with ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 over Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 (the dioceses of Asiane and Pontus) and Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 as well as over the barbaric territories, non-converted lands outside the defined area of the Western Patriarchate (Old Rome) and the other three patriarchates, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, gave it appellate jurisdiction extraterritorially over canon law decisions by the other patriarchs and granted it honours equal to those belonging to the first Christian see, Rome, in terms of primacy, Rome retaining however its seniority (canon xxviii). Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

 refused to accept this canon, basing himself on the fact that it was made in the absence of his legates
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

. In the 6th century, the official title became that of "Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch."

The current Patriarch (since 1991) is Bartholomew I who has become better-known than any of his predecessors in modern times as a result of his numerous pastoral and other visits to numerous countries in five continents and his setting up of a permanent bureau at the EU headquarters, in addition to enhancing the long-established Patriarchal Centre in Pregny-Chambésy
Pregny-Chambésy
Pregny-Chambésy is a commune in the canton of Geneva in Switzerland. It is located directly north of the city of Geneva, on the south-western shore of Lake Geneva....

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and also his ecological pursuits which have won him the epithet of "the Green Patriarch."

Ottoman ethnarchy

When the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 conquered Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453, the Patriarchate had ceased to function. The Patriarchate was restored by the conquering Islamic Ottoman ruler, Sultan Mehmed II
Mehmed II
Mehmed II , was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to September 1446, and later from...

, who wished to establish his dynasty as the direct heirs of the Eastern Roman Emperors, and who adopted the imperial title Kayser-i-Rûm "Caesar of Rome", one of his subsidiary titles but a most significant one. He bestowed the office of Patriarch in 1454 to the illustrious Byzantine scholar-monk George Scholarius, who was well-known for his opposition to union with the Latin West, who took the name of Gennadius II.

The Patriarch was designated millet-bashi (ethnarch
Ethnarch
Ethnarch, pronounced , the anglicized form of ethnarches refers generally to political leadership over a common ethnic group or homogeneous kingdom. The word is derived from the Greek words and ....

) of the Millet
Millet (Ottoman Empire)
Millet is a term for the confessional communities in the Ottoman Empire. It refers to the separate legal courts pertaining to "personal law" under which communities were allowed to rule themselves under their own system...

 of Rum (Turkish for Rome, i.e. Byzantium), which included all Orthodox Christians under Ottoman rule, regardless of their nationality (ethnicity) in the modern sense. This role was carried out by ethnic Greeks at their great peril, in the midst of enormous difficulties and traps and inevitably with mixed success. Several incumbents of the patriarchal throne were summarily executed by the Ottoman authorities, most notably Patriarch Gregory V, who was lynched on Easter Monday 1821 as partial retribution for the outbreak of the last and only successful Greek Revolution.

In the 19th century, the rising tide of nationalism and secularism among the Balkan Christian nations led to the establishment of several autocephalous national churches, generally under autonomous Patriarchs or Archbishops, leaving the Ecumenical Patriarch only direct control over the ethnically Greek-originated Orthodox Christians of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, parts of Greece and the archdioceses in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 where growing Greek and other migrant communities have gradually constituted a significant orthodox diaspora. Turkish and Armenian Orthodox Christians in Turkey have independent Churches.

Relation to the Republic of Turkey

With the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 on October 29, 1923, the authority of the Ottoman Empire over the Patriarch was transferred to the Republic. The Turkish state only recognizes the Patriarch as the spiritual leader of the Greek minority in Turkey
Greeks in Turkey
The Greeks in Turkey constitute a population of Greek and Greek-speaking Eastern Orthodox Christians who mostly live in Istanbul, including its district Princes' Islands, as well as on the two islands of the western entrance to the Dardanelles: Imbros and Tenedos .They are the remnants of the...

, and officially refers to him as the "Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Phanar" (Phanar is the neighbourhood in Istanbul where the patriarchate is located). According to Turkish law, still in force today, he is subject to the authority of the Republic of Turkey; however, Turkey allows the Standing Synod of Metropolitan Bishops to elect the Patriarch. To be electable, Turkish law requires the candidates to be Turkish citizens by birth. Since the establishment of modern Turkey, the position of the Ecumenical Patriarch has been filled by Turkish-born citizens of Greek ethnicity. As nearly all Greek Orthodox have left Turkey (see Population exchange between Greece and Turkey
Population exchange between Greece and Turkey
The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey was based upon religious identity, and involved the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece...

 and Istanbul Pogrom
Istanbul Pogrom
The Istanbul riots , were mob attacks directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. The riots were orchestrated by the Turkish government under Adnan Menderes. The events were triggered by the false news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, north Greece—the...

), this considerably narrows the field of candidates for succession.

Human rights groups and Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 governments have long protested against conditions placed by the secular government of Turkey on the Ecumenical Patriarch, a religious office. For example, the ecumenical status accorded him traditionally within Eastern Orthodoxy, and recognized previously by the Ottoman governments, has on occasion been a source of controversy within the Republic of Turkey. This policy results in problems in the function of the Patriarchate, since clergy coming from abroad are not eligible to apply for residence and work permits. In its early days the Turkish state promoted a rival Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate, whose congregation, however, has remained limited.

Expropriation of Church property and the conditions of state control imposed on the Orthodox Theological School of Halki
Halki seminary
The Halki seminary, formally the Theological School of Halki , was founded on 1 October 1844 on the island of Halki , the second-largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. It was the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until...

 that have led to its closure by the Patriarchate, are also cited by human rights groups. Lewis D. Eigen and others have, however, observed that the conditions were aimed by the Turkish secular state at Muslim radicals, who, they believe, would preach hate and terror if allowed to control their own religious seminaries; the Christians were caught in the "crossfire." However, in 2004 Patriarch Bartholomew, with the help of the Turkish government, succeeded, after eighty years, in altering the composition of the twelve-member Standing Synod of Metropolitan Bishops in Constantinople so that it can include six bishops from outside Turkey. He has also been convening biennially in Constantinople convocations of all bishops in his jurisdiction.

It is claimed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has been the target of attacks on occasion from 1993 to 2004, including desecration of patriarchal cemeteries and personal assaults against the Ecumenical Patriarch.

See also

  • Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are honorees of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who have been selected from among the laity due to service to those portions of the Eastern Orthodox Church under his particular guidance....

  • Church of St George, Istanbul
  • Eastern Catholic Church
  • Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
    Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
    The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople , part of the wider Orthodox Church, is one of the fourteen autocephalous churches within the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
    Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
    The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is Archbishop Demetrios of America.-About the Archdiocese:...

  • History of the Eastern Orthodox Church
    History of the Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Eastern Orthodox Churches trace their roots back to the Apostles and Jesus Christ. Apostolic succession established the seats of Patriarchy...

  • List of Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople
  • Mount Athos
    Mount Athos
    Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

  • Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople
    Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople
    Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I , born Aristocles Spyrou was the 268th Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1948 to 1972.-Life:...

  • Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
    Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, and thus "first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox Communion, since 2 November 1991...

  • Patriarch Gregory II of Constantinople
    Patriarch Gregory II of Constantinople
    Gregory II of Cyprus was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1283-1289.His name was originally George. His parents were middle class but of noble origin. He moved to Nicosia as a teenager seeking further education...


External links

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