Patriarchate of Constantinople


May 20, 2022

The Patriarchate of Constantinople (Greek: Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Tur. Rum Orthodox Patrikhanesi) is a local and autocephalous church. It ranks first in the diptych. It is headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch.


Byzantium was initially an episcopate subordinated to the metropolis of Heraclea, in Thrace, but as soon as, thanks to Emperor Constantine (306-337), it became the capital of the empire, the other Rome, it gained great ecclesiastical and political importance. The jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople was determined by the Ecumenical Councils: Constantinople (381), the Third Canon, gives him the primacy of the part, after Rome; Chalcedon (451), the twenty-eighth canon, adds the dioceses of Thrace, Asia Minor and Pontus. In the 11th century, not only the Greeks of the Byzantine Empire but also the Christians of North Africa, Southern Italy and Sicily, Asia Minor, the Balkan Peninsula, Russia and the Romanian lands came under his jurisdiction. At that time, the Patriarchate of Constantinople had 600 episcopal thrones. The Latin Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204; after that the patriarch moved his seat to Nicaea, where he remained in exile until 1272. Then Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453. This event significantly reduced the church importance of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Also, with the formation of local autocephalous churches at the end of the 19th century, its jurisdiction was narrowed. In 1928, forty-nine dioceses were handed over to the Greek Orthodox Church. Its current jurisdiction includes Greek believers in Constantinople, dioceses in Turkey, several diocesan dioceses, as well as the Holy Mountain. The seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is the Church of St. George, built at the end of the 19th century. It is located in the former Greek quarter of Constantinople, Fanaru, where it is surrounded by a high wall and barbed wire (due to Turkish attacks, part of the building still has visible traces of arson). The current patriarch of Constantinople is Bartholomew I (since 1991).


The supreme authority in the Patriarchate of Constantinople belongs to the 12-member Holy Synod headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch. The mandate of the synod members lasts one year. Unlike other local churches in which the highest hierarchical authority belongs to the local or bishop's council, in the Patriarchate of Constantinople there is only an advisory bishop