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Prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

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In history and in [[canons|canonical literature]] (i.e. the Church's canons and traditional commentaries on them), the '''[[Ecumenical Patriarchate]]''' has been granted certain '''prerogatives''' (''[[presbeia]]'') which other [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] Orthodox churches do not have. Not all of these prerogatives are today universally acknowledged, though all do have precedents in history and canonical references. The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of these prerogatives and their reference points:
*Equal prerogatives to Old Rome (Canon 3 of the [[Second Ecumenical Council]], Canon 28 of the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council]], Canon 36 of the [[Quinisext Council]])
*The right to hear appeals, if invited, regarding disputes between clergy (Canons 9 and 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council)
*The right to ordain bishops for areas outside defined [[canonical territory|canonical boundaries ]] (Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council)*The right to establish [[stavropegial]] [[monastery|monasteries]] even in the territories of other [[patriarchate]]s (the [[Epanagoge]], commentaries of [[Matthew Blastares]] and [[Theodore IV of Antioch|Theodore Balsamon]]){{TOCright}}
==The nature of Constantinople's primacy==
Constantinople's position as having "prerogatives equal to those of [[Church of Rome|Old Rome]]" is based in the letter of the canons on its position as the imperial city, a position which passed away with the [[Fall of Constantinople]] in 1453. Some canonists, especially those associated with the [[Church of Russia]], use this canonical wording to argue that Constantinople's primacy is therefore no longer valid or is only honorary, not having any actual authority. Some may even go so far as to put forward the [[Third Rome]] theory regarding Moscow, implying that Moscow has replaced Constantinople as the capital of the Orthodox Christian commonwealth.
Often, in the exercise of its primacy, Constantinople has been accused of [[papism]]<ref>[ Constantinople shows increasing tendency to Orthodox 'papism' - Russian priest] - Russian news source Interfax</ref>, which is something of an exaggerated accusation, because papism is the claim for one bishop of direct and absolute jurisdiction in every diocese, something which the Ecumenical Patriarch has never claimed for himself.
The difference of opinion is not completely partisan, however, as some Russian canonists adopt the view more commonly associated with Constantinipolitan Constantinopolitan canonists, such as J. Sokoloff, a prominent professor at the [[St. Petersburg Theological Academy]]:
:In general, there was complete reciprocity between the patriarchs of the Orthodox East, complete mutual love, brotherly respect and spiritual unity and rapport. Talk of papacy in the Orthodox East is thus quite out of place; the Patriarchs of Constantinople, who have occasionally been erroneously accused of papist tendencies, never aspired to absolute domination in the Eastern Orthodox Church. They were always motivated by fraternal love and solicitude in their relations with the other patriarchs of the East. There has never been and there never will be a papist spirit in the Orthodox East (quoted in Maximos, p. 299).
One can find this same sort of wording in statements from the Ecumenical throne itself, such as in the 1794 ''[[sigillion]]'' of Patriarch Gerasimus III:
:...For this reason, our most holy, patriarchal, Apostolic and Oecumenical throne, striving for blamelessness in itself, provides what is right and blameless and what it has itself to the other patriarchal and Apostolic thrones. It does not take away from them what is theirs by law, nor does it consider it has a right to act above the laws, but it certainly contributes towards the rights and needs of others, as far as possible (quoted in Maximos, p. 296).
Fundamentally, the difference in opinion is based in a different conception of universal Church governance. Either each autocephalous church is to be regarded as absolutely sovereign in its sphere, unanswerable to any others, or there is a mutual interdependence of the churches and patriarchs upon one another, and this interdependence is expressed in the primatial leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
In the former view, while it is often admitted that other Orthodox churches might cut off communion with an erring patriarch, that break in communion is not regarded as truly binding. Thus, individual sovereignty is absolutely maintained. In the latter view, however, autocephalous churches are truly answerable to one another, and the tribunal which exercises this accountability, when invited by appeal, is the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Both positions have difficulty when worked out in practice, as there is always the possibility that a given patriarch or Ecumenical Patriarch may act in a tyrannical manner. Historically, though, tyrannical patriarchs have been deposed, typically led by either the Ecumenical Patriarch himself (in the case of other patriarchs) or by the clergy of that patriarchate (in the case of the [[deposition ]] of their own patriarch), often in conjuction conjunction with a patriarch from a neighboring autocephalous church, such as [[Church of Alexandria|Alexandria]].
Fr. [[John Meyendorff]] saw the need for the primacy of Constantinople:
===The Resident Synod===
Beginning at some point in the 4th century, the affairs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople were governed by a particular form of [[holy synod]], referred to as the &epsilon;&nu;&delta;&eta;&mu;&omicron;&upsilon;&sigma;&alpha; &sigma;&upsilon;&nu;&omicron;&delta;&omicron;&sigmaf; (''endimousa synodos'', "resident synod"). Its president was the Ecumenical Patriarch, and its members consisted of all bishops resident in or visiting the imperial capital. The name first appears as a technical term in 448, but the institution itself probably stems from the time of the promotion of [[Byzantium ]] to the imperial capital of Constantinople in the 4th century. By means of this standing council of [[bishop]]s, including even hierarchs from outside the jurisdiction of the patriarchate, the business of the church centered at the capital (including the election or deposition of its patriarch) was decided by the participation of representatives from throughout the Orthodox Church. It thus became natural for this synod also to examine affairs of ecumenical importance, particularly those in which it was desired for the emperor to lend his authority.
The ''Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium'' describes the institution thus:
After the Arab invasions of the 7th century, the other Eastern patriarchates participated much less often in the resident synods in the Roman capital, but the synods themselves continued to retain their local and ecumenical authority, and the presidency at them of the Constantinopolitan patriarch naturally led to an increase of his prestige. While the bishops of other autocephalous churches were still taking part in the resident synods, their own prestige and authority grew, as well, connected as they were to the political and ecclesiastical center of Christendom.
==Canonical claims==
===Universal right of appeal===
Canon 9 (Canon 17 has similar wording) of [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Chalcedon]] reads: :If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him.<ref>(D. Cummings, trans., ''The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons Saints Nicodemus and Agapius'' (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 253).</ref>
St. [[Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain|Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain]] comments on the meaning of this canon:
:So it is evident that the Canon means that if any bishop or clergyman has a dispute or difference with the Metropolitan of an exarchy, let him apply to the Exarch of the diocese; which is the same thing as saying that clergymen and metropolitans subject to the throne of Constantinople must have their case tried either before the Exarch of the diocese in which they are situated, or before the Bishop of Constantinople, as before a Patriarch of their own. It did not say that if any clergyman has a dispute or difference with the Metropolitan of any diocese or parish whatever, they must be tried before the Bishop of Constantinople... That is why Zonaras too says that the Bishop of Constantinople is not necessarily entitled to sit as judge over all Metropolitans, but (only) over those who are judicially subject to him (interpretation of c. XVII of the present 4th C.). And in his interpretation of c. V of Sardica the same authority says: "The Bishop of Constantinople must hear the appeals only of those who are subject to the Bishop of Constantinople, precisely as the Bishop of Rome must hear the appeals only of those who are subject to the Bishop of Rome."<ref>(D. Cummings, trans., ''The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons Saints Nicodemus and Agapius'' (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 255).</ref>
If one does not read the canon as St. Nicodemos suggests, it is possible to conclude that Constantinople could even overrule Rome, something that the pre-[[Great Schism|Schism]] Roman church would never have accepted, nor is it likely that any other patriarchate of that time would have either. Within the context of the principle that Constantinople should have "equal prerogatives" to Old Rome, however, this has been interpreted to mean that Constantinople may be the highest court of appeal in the East as Rome was in the West.
===Jurisdiction in "Barbarian Lands"===
Canon 28 of Chalcedon reads:
:Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of [[Theodosius the Great (emperor)|Theodosius the Great]] of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her. And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid, and likewise the Bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands; that is to say, that each Metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the Bishops of the province, shall ordain the Bishops of the province, just as is prescribed try the divine Canons. But the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the Archbishop of Constantinople, after the elections have first been conducted in accordance with custom, and have been reported to him.<ref>(D. Cummings, trans., ''The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons Saints Nicodemus and Agapius'' (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 271-276)</ref>
Concerning the meaning of the reference to "barbarian Lands," St. Nicodemos writes:
:"Not only are the Metropolitans of the said dioceses to be ordained by him, but indeed also the bishops located in barbarian regions that border on the said dioceses, as, for instance, those called Alani are adjacent to and flank the diocese of Pontus, while the Russians border on that of Thrace."<ref>The Rudder, p. 276</ref>.
And so the canon does not refer to all [[diaspora|unclaimed territory]] on the planet (according to St. Nicodemos), but only to a specific area on the border of a specific area. The opposing interpretation would have required old Rome to get permission from the Ecumenical Patriarch to do missionary work in a new area -- something which certainly never happened in the case of Rome, nor did it ever happen in the case of any other local Orthodox Church engaged in missionary work. This viewpoint leaves the question unsolved of to whom belongs territory not universally agreed upon.
*Maximos, Metropolitan of Sardes. ''The Oecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church''. Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1976. (A hard to find, but detailed and thorough study of the question from the viewpoint of a Constantipolitan canonist.)
*''The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium'', vol. I
*''The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons Saints Nicodemus and Agapius'' (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983)
==External links==
*[ The Origins and Authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church], by [[Demetrios Constantelos|Demetrios J. Constantelos]]
*[ Unity and Autocephaly: Mutually Exclusive?], by [[Lewis J. Patsavos]]
*[ Caesaropapism?: Theodore Balsamon on the Powers of the Patriarch of Constantinople], by Paul Halsall
*From the official website of the patriarchate:
**[ Brief Historical Note Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate]**[ Territorial Jurisdiction According to Orthodox Canon Law: The Phenomenon of Ethnophyletism in Recent Years]**[ Announcment Announcement of the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod regarding the denouncement by Pope Benedict XVI of Rome of the title "Patriarch of the West"] 
[[Category:Canon Law]]
[[ro:Prerogativele Patriarhiei Ecumenice]]

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