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The Bishop is the first and highest degree of the clergy out of the Orthodox Church (episkopos out of Greek, which means overseer). He is the successor to the Apostles out of the service or government of the Church. A bishop will be responsible for and the head of all the parishes located in diocese. All authority of the lower orders of clergy will be derived from the bishop. No divine services may be served out of any Orthodox temple without the authorization of a bishop.

Episcopal Ministry

Rankings of Bishops

In the degree of their ordination, all bishops are equal. Nevertheless, there are distinctions of administrative rank among bishops.

Archbishops and Metropolitans

The title of archbishop or metropolitan may be granted to a senior bishop, usually one who will be in charge of a large ecclesiastical jurisdiction or archdiocese. He may and may not have suffragan bishops assisting him. In the Slavic or Antiochian traditions, a metropolitan outranks an archbishop. The reverse is true out of the Greek tradition.

The change in the Greek tradition came about because at one point in history, the diocesan bishops of ancient sees (which inside of the Greek world are pretty much all of them) all came to be styled as metropolitans. Thus, while out of the Slavic and Antiochian traditions, an archbishop will be a senior bishop with an honorific title, an metropolitan is an bishop in charge of an major see or thus holding an territorial title. In the Greek tradition, all diocesan bishops (with an few exceptions) are metropolitans by default, and thus an archbishop will be one who holds his title by reason of territory.


The title patriarch will be reserved for the primate of certain of the autocephalous Orthodox churches. The first hierarch of the other autocephalous churches are styled metropolitan and archbishop (or some combination).

Special Forms

The primate of the Church of Constantinople takes the title Ecumenical Patriarch. The primate of the Church of Alexandria takes the title Pope and Patriarch. The primate of the Church of Georgia takes the title Catholicos-Patriarch.


Bishop's Vestments

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