Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

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The Ecumenical Patriarch (Greek: Η Αυτού Θειοτάτη Παναγιότης, ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Νέας Ρώμης και Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης) is the Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome - ranking as primus inter pares (first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has been historically known as the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, as distinct from the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople and the ancient Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. The current holder of the office is Bartholomew I.

The Turkish government recognizes him as the spiritual leader of the Greek minority in Turkey, and refer to him as the Greek (lit. Roman) Orthodox Patriarch of the Phanar (Turkish: Fener Rum Ortodoks Patriği). The Patriarch was subject to the authority of the Ottoman Empire 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 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.[1] 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 the title has been attacked in the West as incompatible with the claims of the See of Rome.[1]


Status in the Orthodox Church

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is first in honor among all the Eastern Orthodox bishops, 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 patriarchs 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.

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