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 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 Balsamon]])
==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with the [[Church of Russia]], use this canonical wording to argue that Constantinople's primacy is therefore no longer valid or is only honorary, not having any actual authority.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>[http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=1801 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 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 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 ενδημουσα συνοδος (''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.
*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
*[http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8148.asp The Origins and Authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church], by Demetrios J. Constantelos
*[http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8131.asp Unity and Autocephaly: Mutually Exclusive?], by [[Lewis J. Patsavos]]
*[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/balsamon-cpl.html Caesaropapism?: Theodore Balsamon on the Powers of the Patriarch of Constantinople], by Paul Halsall
*From the official website of the patriarchate:
gr/patrdisplay.php?lang=en&id=5 Brief Historical Note Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate]**[http://www.ec-patr. gr/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=287&tla=en Territorial Jurisdiction According to Orthodox Canon Law: The Phenomenon of Ethnophyletism in Recent Years]**[http://www.ec-patr. gr/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=679&tla=en Announcment 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"]