Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, (patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church); Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Sako, (Chaldean Catholic patriarch); Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Pope Francis, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan; Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi; and Armenian Catholic Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia.
Patriarch and Patriarchate
Origin of the title
Patriarch (Gr. patriarches; Latin patriarcha) means the father or chief of a race (patria, a clan or family). The word occurs in the Septuagint for the chiefs of the tribes (e.g. 1 Chronicles 24:31; 27:22, patriarchai ton phylon; cf. 2 Chronicles 23:20 etc.); in the New Testament (Hebrews 7:4) it is applied to Abraham as a version of his title “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4), to David (Acts 2:29), and to the twelve sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8-9). This last became the special meaning of the word when used of Scriptural characters. The heads of the tribes were the “Twelve Patriarchs”, though the word is used also in a more general sense for the fathers of the Old Law in general, e.g. the invocation in the litany, “All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets”.
Names of Christian dignitaries were in early days taken sometimes from civil life (episkopos, diakonos), sometimes borrowed from the Jews (presbyteros). The name patriarch is one of the latter class. Bishops of special dignity were called patriarchs just as deacons were called levites, because their place corresponded by analogy to those in the Old Law. All such titles became technical terms, official titles, only gradually. At first they were used loosely as names of honour without any strict connotation; but in all such cases the reality existed before any special name was used. There were ecclesiastical dignitaries with all the rights and prerogatives of patriarchs in the first three centuries; but the official title does not occur till later. As a Christian title of honour the word patriarch appears first as applied to Pope Leo I in a letter of Theodosius II (408-50; Mansi, VI, 68). The bishops of the Byzantine jurisdiction apply it to their chief, Acacius (471-89; Evagrius, “H.E.”, III, 9). But it was still merely an honourable epithet that might be given to any venerable bishop. St. Gregory of Nazianzus says: “the elder bishops, or more rightly, the patriarchs” (Orat., xlii, 23). Socrates says that the Fathers of Constantinople I (381) “set up patriarchs”, meaning apparently metropolitans of provinces (Church History V.8). As late as the fifth and sixth centuries Celidonius of Besançon and Nicetius of Lyons are still called patriarchs (Acta SS., Feb., III, 742; Gregory of Tours, “Hist. Francorum”, V, xx).
Gradually then — certainly from the eighth and ninth centuries — the word becomes an official title, used henceforth only as connoting a definite rank in the hierarchy, that of the chief bishops who ruled over metropolitans as metropolitans over their suffragan bishops, being themselves subject only to the first patriarch at Rome. During these earlier centuries the name appears generally in conjunction with “archbishop”, “archbishop and patriarch”, as in the Code of Justinian (Gelzer, “Der Streit über den Titel des ökumen. Patriarchen” in “Jahrbuch für protest. Theol.”, 1887). The dispute about the title Œcumenical Patriarch in the sixth century (see JOHN THE FASTER) shows that even then the name was receiving a technical sense. Later medieval and modern developments, schisms, and the creation of titular and so-called “minor” patriarchates have produced the result that a great number of persons now claim the title; but in all cases it connotes the idea of a special rank — the highest, except among Catholics who admit the still higher papacy.
Patriarchate (Greek patriarcheia; Latin patriarchatus) is the derived word meaning a patriarch’s office, see, reign, or, most often, the territory he governs. It corresponds to episcopacy, episcopate, and diocese in relation to a bishop.
The three patriarchs
The oldest canon law admitted only three bishops as having what later ages called patriarchal rights — the Bishops of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. The successor of St. Peter as a matter of course held the highest place and combined in his own person all dignities. He was not only bishop, but metropolitan, primate, and patriarch; Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Primate of Italy, and first of the patriarchs. As soon as a hierarchy was organized among bishops, the chief authority and dignity were retained by the Bishop of Rome. The pope combines the above positions and each of them gives him a special relation to the faithful and the bishops in the territory corresponding. As pope he is visible head of the whole Church; no Christian is outside his papal jurisdiction. As Bishop of Rome he is the diocesan bishop of that diocese only; as metropolitan he governs the Roman Province; as primate he governs the Italian bishops; as patriarch he rules only the West. As patriarch the Roman pontiff has from the beginning ruled all the Western lands where Latin was once the civilized, and is still the liturgical language, where the Roman Rite is now used almost exclusively and the Roman canon law (e.g. celibacy, our rules of fasting and abstinence, etc.) obtains. To Christians in the East he is supreme pontiff, not patriarch. Hence there has always been a closer relation between Western bishops and the pope than between him and their Eastern brethren, just as there is a still closer relation between him and the suburban bishops of the Roman Province of which he is metropolitan. Many laws that we obey are not universal Catholic laws but those of the Western patriarchate. Before the Council of Nicæa (325) two bishops in the East had the same patriarchal authority over large territories, those of Alexandria and Antioch. It is difficult to say exactly how they obtained this position. The organization of provinces under metropolitans followed, as a matter of obvious convenience, the organization of the empire arranged by Diocletian (Fortescue, “Orthodox Eastern Church”, 21-23). In this arrangement the most important cities in the East were Alexandria of Egypt and Antioch of Syria. So the Bishop of Alexandria became the chief of all Egyptian bishops and metropolitans; the Bishop of Antioch held the same place over Syria and at the same time extended his sway over Asia Minor, Greece and the rest of the East. Diocletian had divided the empire into four great prefectures. Three of these (Italy, Gaul, and Illyricum) made up the Roman patriarchate, the other, the “East” (Præfectura Orientis) had five (civil) “dioceses” — Thrace, Asia, Pontus, the Diocese of the East, and Egypt. Egypt was the Alexandrine patriarchate. The Antiochene patriarchate embraced the civil “Diocese” of the East. The other three civil divisions of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus would have probably developed into separate patriarchates, but for the rise of Constantinople (ibid., 22-25). Later it became a popular idea to connect all three patriarchates with the Prince of the Apostles. St. Peter had also reigned at Antioch; he had founded the Church of Alexandria by his disciple St. Mark. At any rate the Council of Nicæa in 325 recognizes the supreme place of the bishops of these three cities as an “ancient custom” (can. vi). Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch are the three old patriarchates whose unique position and order were disturbed by later developments.
The five patriarchates
When pilgrims began to flock to the Holy City, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the guardian of the sacred shrines, began to be considered as more than a mere suffragan of Cæsarea. The Council of Nicæa (325) gave him an honorary primacy, saving, however, the metropolitical rights of Cæsarea (can. vii). Juvenal of Jerusalem (420-58) succeeded finally, after much dispute, in changing this honorary position into a real patriarchate. The Council of Chalcedon (451) cut away Palestine and Arabia (Sinai) from Antioch and of them formed the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Sess. VII and VIII). Since that time Jerusalem has always been counted among the patriarchal sees as the smallest and last (ibid., 25-28).
But the greatest change, the one that met most opposition, was the rise of Constantinople to patriarchal rank. Because Constantine had made Byzantium “New Rome”, its bishop, once the humble suffragan of Heraclea, thought that he should become second only, if not almost equal, to the Bishop of Old Rome. For many centuries the popes opposed this ambition, not because any one thought of disputing their first place, but because they were unwilling to change the old order of the hierarchy. In 381 the Council of Constantinople declared that: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honour after the Bishop of Rome, because it is New Rome” (can. iii). The popes (Damasus, Gregory the Great) refused to confirm this canon. Nevertheless Constantinople grew by favour of the emperor, whose centralizing policy found a ready help in the authority of his court bishop. Chalcedon (451) established Constantinople as a patriarchate with jurisdiction over Asia Minor and Thrace and gave it the second place after Rome (can. xxviii). Pope Leo I (440-61) refused to admit this canon, which was made in the absence of his legates; for centuries Rome still refused to give the second place to Constantinople. It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was allowed this place; in 1439 the Council of Florence gave it to the Greek patriarch. Nevertheless in the East the emperor’s wish was powerful enough to obtain recognition for his patriarch; from Chalcedon we must count Constantinople as practically, if not legally, the second patriarchate (ibid., 28-47). So we have the new order of five patriarchs — Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem — that seemed, to Eastern theologians especially, an essential element of the constitution of the Church [see (ibid., 46-47) the letter of Peter III of Antioch, c. 1054].
At the time of Cerularius’s schism (1054) the great Church of the empire knew practically these five patriarchs only, though “minor” patriarchates had already begun in the West. The Eighth General Council (Constantinople IV, in 869) had solemnly affirmed their position (can. xxi). The schism, and further distinctions that would not have existed but for it, considerably augmented the number of bishops who claimed the title. But before the great schism the earlier Nestorian and Monophysite separations had resulted in the existence of various heretical patriarchs. To be under a patriarch had come to be the normal, apparently necessary, condition for any Church. So it was natural that these heretics when they broke from the Catholic patriarchs should sooner or later set up rivals of their own. But in most cases they have been neither consistent nor logical. Instead of being merely an honourable title for the occupants of the five chief sees, the name patriarch was looked upon as denoting a rank of its own. So there was the idea that one might be patriarch of any place. We shall understand the confusion of this idea if we imagine some sect setting up a Pope of London or New York in opposition to the Pope of Rome. The Nestorians broke away from Antioch in the fifth century. They then called their catholicus (originally a vicar of the Antiochene pontiff), patriarch; though he has never claimed to be Patriarch of Antioch, which alone would have given a reason for his title. Babæus (Bab-Hai, 498-503) is said to be the first who usurped the title, as Patriarch of Seleucia and Ctesiphon (Assemani, “Bibl. Orient.”, III, 427). The Copts and Jacobites have been more consistent. During the long Monophysite quarrels (fifth to seventh century) there were continually rival or alternate Catholic and Monophysite patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. Eventually, since the Moslem conquest of Egypt and Syria, rival lines were formed. So there is a line of Coptic patriarchs of Alexandria and of Jacobite patriarchs of Antioch as rivals to the Melchite ones. But in this case each claims to represent the old line and refuses to recognize its rivals, which is a possible position.
The Armenian Church has made the same mistake as the Nestorians. It has now four so-called patriarchs, of which two bear titles of sees that cannot by any rule of antiquity claim to be patriarchal at all, and the other two have not even the pretence of descent from the old lines. The Armenian Catholicus of Etchmiadzin began to call himself a patriarch on the same basis as the Nestorian primate — simply as head of a large and, after the Monophysite schism (Synod of Duin in 527), independent Church. It is difficult to say at what date he assumed the title. Armenian writers call all their catholici patriarchs, back to St. Gregory the Illuminator (fourth cent.). Silbernagl counts Nerses I (353-73?) first patriarch (Verfassung u. gegenw. Bestand, 216). But a claim to patriarchal rank could hardly have been made at a time when Armenia was still in union with and subject to the See of Cæsarea. The Catholicus’s title is not local; he is “Patriarch of all Armenians.” In 1461 Mohammed II set up an Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople to balance the Orthodox one. A temporary schism among the Armenians resulted in a Patriarchate of Sis, and in the seventeenth century the Armenian Bishop of Jerusalem began to call himself patriarch. It is clear then how entirely the Armenians ignore what the title really means.
The next multiplication of patriarchs was produced by the Crusades. The crusaders naturally refused to recognize the claims of the old, now schismatical, patriarchal lines, whose representatives moreover in most cases fled; so they set up Latin patriarchs in their place. The first Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem was Dagobert of Pisa (1099-1107); the Orthodox rival (Simon II) had fled to Cyprus in 1099 and died there the same year (for the list of his sucessors see Le Quien, III, 1241-68). It was not till 1142 that the Orthodox continued their broken line by electing Arsenios II, who like most Orthodox patriarchs at that time lived at Constantinople. At Antioch, too, the crusaders had a scruple against two patriarchs of the same place. They took the city in 1098, but as long as the Orthodox patriarch (John IV) remained there they tried to make him a Catholic instead of appointing a rival. However, when at last he fled to Constantinople they considered the see vacant, and Bernard, Bishop of Arthesia, a Frenchman, was elected to it (the succession in Le Quien, III, 1154-84).
In 1167 Amaury II, King of Jerusalem, captured Alexandria, as did Peter I, King of Cyprus, in 1365. But both times the city was given back to the Moslems at once. Nor were there any Latin inhabitants to justify the establishment of a Latin patriarchate. On the other hand, the Orthodox patriarch, Nicholas I (c. 1210-after 1223; Le Quien, II, 490) was well disposed towards reunion, wrote friendly letters to the pope, and was invited to the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). There was then a special reason for not setting up a Latin rival to him. Eventually a Latin patriarchate was established rather to complete what had been done in other cases than for any practical reason. Giles, Patriarch of Grado, a Dominican, was made first Latin Patriarch of Alexandria by Clement V in 1310. An earlier Latin Athanasius seems to be mythical (Le Quien, III, 1143). For the list of Giles’s line see Le Quien (III, 1141-1151). When the Fourth Crusade took Constantinople in 1204, the patriarch John X fled to Nicæa with the emperor, and Thomas Morosini was made Latin patriarch to balance the Latin emperor (Le Quien, III, 793-836). It will be seen then that the crusaders acted from their point of view correctly enough. But the result was for each see double lines that have continued ever since. The Orthodox lines went on; the Latin patriarchs ruled as long as the Latins held those lands. When the crusaders’ kingdoms came to an end they went on as titular patriarchs and have been for many centuries dignitaries of the papal court. Only the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem was sent back in 1847 to be the head of all Latins in Palestine. By that time people were so accustomed to see different patriarchs of the same place ruling each his own “nation” that this seemed a natural proceeding.
The formation of Uniat Churches since the sixteenth century again increased the number of patriarchates. These people could no longer obey the old schismatical lines. On the other hand each group came out of a corresponding schismatical Church; they were accustomed to a chief of their own rite, their own “nation” in the Turkish sense. The only course seemed to be to give to each a Uniat patriarch corresponding to his schismatical rival. Moreover, in many cases the line of Uniat patriarchs comes from a disputed succession among the schismatics, one claimant having submitted to Rome and being therefore deposed by the schismatical majority. The oldest of these Uniat patriarchates is that of the Maronites. In 680 the Patriarch of Antioch, Macarius, was deposed by the Sixth General Council for Monotheletism. The Monotheletes then grouped themselves around the hegumenos of the Maronite monastery, John (died 707). This begins the separated Maronite (at that time undoubtedly Monothelete) Church. John made himself Patriarch of Antioch for his followers, who wanted a head and were in communion with neither the Jacobites nor the Melchites. At the time of the crusades the Maronites united with Rome (1182 and again in 1216). They are allowed to keep their Patriarch of Antioch as head of their rite; but he in no way represents the old line of St. Peter and St. Ignatius. The next oldest Uniat patriarchate is that of Babylon for the Chaldees (converted Nestorians). It began with the submission of the Nestorian patriarch, John Sulaga (died 1555). There has been a complicated series of rivalries and schisms since, of which the final curious result is that the present Uniat patriarch represents the old Nestorian line, and his Nestorian rival the originally Catholic line of Sulaga. The title of “Babylon” was not used till Pope Innocent XI conferred it in 1681. The Melchite patriarchate dates from 1724 (Cyril VI, 1724-1759). It began again with a disputed succession to the old patriarchal See of Antioch; the Melchite occupant has quite a good claim to represent the old line. The Uniat Byzantine Sees of Alexandria and Jerusalem are for the present considered as joined to that of Antioch; the Melchite patriarch uses all three titles (see MELCHITES). The Uniat Armenians have a patriarch who resides at Constantinople, but does not take his title from that city. His line began with a disputed election to Sis, one of the secondary Armenian patriarchates, in 1739. He is called Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. In 1781 Ignatius Giarve, Jacobite Bishop of Aleppo, was elected canonically Patriarch of Antioch. He then made his submission to Rome and the heretical bishops deposed him and chose a Monophysite as patriarch. From Giarve the line of Uniat Syrian patriarchs of Antioch descends. Lastly, in 1895, Pope Leo XIII erected a Uniat Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria for the many Copts who were at that time becoming Catholics.
This exhausts the list of Uniat patriarchs. In three cases (the Chaldees, Melchites, and Syrians) the Uniat patriarch has, on purely historical grounds, at least as good a claim as his schismatical rival, if not better, to represent the old succession. On the other hand, the existence of several Catholic patriarchs of the same see, for instance, the Melchite, Jacobite, Maronite, and Latin titulars of Antioch, is a concession to the national feeling of Eastern Christians, or, in the case of the Latin, a relic of the crusades that archæologically can hardly be justified.
It is curious that there is no Uniat Patriarch of Constantinople. There was for a time, however brief, a new patriarchate among the Orthodox. In the sixteenth century the Church of Russia had become a very large and flourishing branch of the Orthodox communion. The Russian Government then thought the time had come to break its dependence on Constantinople. In 1589 the Tsar Feodor I (1581-98) made the Metropolitan See of Moscow into an independent patriarchate. In 1591 the other patriarchs in synod confirmed his arrangement and gave Moscow the fifth place, below Jerusalem. Orthodox theologians were delighted that the sacred pentarchy, the classical order of five patriarchs, was thus restored; they said that God had raised up Moscow to replace fallen Rome. But their joy did not last long. Only ten Russian patriarchs reigned. In 1700 the last of these, Adria, died. Peter the Great did not allow a successor to be elected and in 1721 replaced the patriarchate by the Holy Directing Synod that now rules the Russian Church. But many Russians who resent the present tyranny of State over Church in their country hope for a restoration of the national patriarchate as the first step towards better things.
There remain only the so-called “minor” patriarchates in the West. At various times certain Western sees, too, have been called patriarchal. But there is a fundamental difference between these and any Eastern patriarchate. Namely, the pope is Patriarch of the West; all Western bishops of whatever rank are subject not only to his papal but also to his patriarchal jurisdiction. But a real patriarch cannot be subject to another patriarch; no patriarch can have another under his patriarchal jurisdiction, just as a diocesan ordinary cannot have another ordinary in his diocese. Eastern patriarchs claim independence of any other patriarch as such; the Catholics obey the pope as pope, the Orthodox recognize the civil headship of Constantinople, the Armenians a certain primacy of honour in their catholicus. But in every case the essence of a patriarch’s dignity is that he has no other patriarch over him as patriarch. On the other hand, these Western minor patriarchs have never been supposed to be exempt from the Roman patriarchate. They have never had fragments cut away from Rome to make patriarchates for them, as for instance Jerusalem was formed of a fragment detached from Antioch.
Indeed, none of them has ever had any patriarchate at all. It may be said that the origin of the title in the West was an imitation of the East. But legally the situation was totally different. The Western patriarchates have never been more than mere titles conveying no jurisdiction at all. The earliest of them was Aquileia in Illyricum. It was an important city in the first centuries; the see claimed to have been founded by St. Mark. During the rule of the Goths in Italy (fifth to sixth centuries) the Bishop of Aquileia was called patriarch, though the name was certainly not used in any technical sense. It is one more example of the looser meaning by which any venerable bishop might be so called in earlier times. However, the Bishop of Aquileia began to use his complimentary title in a more definite sense. Though Illyricum undoubtedly belonged legally to the Roman Patriarchate, it was long a fruitful source of dispute with the East (Orth. Eastern Church, 44-45); Aquileia on the frontier thought itself entitled to some kind of independence of either Rome or Constantinople. At first the popes resolutely refused to acknowledge this new claim in any form. Then came the quarrel of the Three Chapters.
When, however, Pope Vigilius had yielded to the second Council of Constantinople (553), a number of North Italian bishops went into formal schism, led by Macedonius of Aquileia (539-56). From this time the Bishops of Aquileia call themselves patriarchs, as heads of a schismatical party, till 700. Paulinus of Aquileia (557-71) moved his see to Grado, a small island opposite Aquileia, keeping, however, the old title. This line of bishops in Grado became Catholics about 606; their schismatical suffragans then restored the old see at Aquileia as a schismatical patriarchate. The popes seem to have allowed or tolerated the same title for the Bishops of Aquileia-Grado. The Synod at Aquileia in 700 put an end to the schism finally.
From that time, however, there were two lines of so-called patriarchs, those of Aquileia and of Grado (where the bishop now kept the title of Grado only). Neither had more than metropolitical jurisdiction. Both these titles are now merged in that of the Patriarch of Venice. The See of Venice absorbed Grado in the fifteenth century. The city of Aquileia was overthrown by an earthquake in 1348, but the line of patriarchs continued at Udine. It came thus entirely in the power of the Venetian Republic; the patriarch was always a Venetian. Eventually Benedict XIV, in 1751, changed the title to that of Patriarch of Venice.
The discovery of America added a vast territory to the Church, over which it seemed natural that a patriarch should reign. In 1520 Leo X created a “Patriarchate of the West Indies” among the Spanish clergy. In 1572 Pius V joined this rank to the office of chief chaplain of the Spanish army. But in this case, too, the dignity is purely titular. In 1644 Innocent X gave the patriarch some jurisdiction, but expressly in his quality of chaplain only. He has no income as patriarch and is often also bishop of a Spanish diocese. In 1716 Clement XI, in answer to a petition of King John, who, in return for help in fighting Turks, wanted a patriarch like the King of Spain, erected a titular Patriarchate of Lisbon at the king’s chapel. The city was divided between the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Lisbon and the new patriarch. In 1740 Benedict XIV joined the archbishopric to the patriarchate. The Patriarch of Lisbon has certain privileges of honour that make his court an imitation of that of the pope. His chapter has three orders like those of the College of Cardinals; he himself is always made a cardinal at the first consistory after his preconization and he uses a tiara (without the keys) over his arms, but he has no more than metropolitical jurisdiction over seven suffragans. Lastly, Leo XIII, in 1886, as a counterpoise to the Patriarchate of the West Indies, erected a titular Patriarchate of the East Indies attached to the See of Goa.
At various times other Western bishops have been called patriarchs. In the Middle Ages those of Lyons, Bourges, Canterbury, Toledo, Pisa were occasionally so called. But there was never any legal claim to these merely complimentary titles.
We give first a complete list of all persons who now bear the title.
The pope as Patriarch of the West (this is the commonest form; “Patriarch of Rome”, or “Latin Patriarch” also occur) rules all Western Europe from Poland to Illyricum (the Balkan Peninsula), Africa west of Egypt, all other lands (America, Australia) colonized from these lands and all Western (Latin) missionaries and dwellers in the East. In other words, his patriarchal jurisdiction extends over all who use the Western (Roman, Ambrosian, Mozarabic) rites and over the Byzantine Uniats in Italy, Corsica, and Sicily. As patriarch he may hold patriarchal synods and he frequently makes laws (such as ritual laws and our form of clerical celibacy) for the Western patriarchate alone.
- (1) Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and all the East, ruling over all Melchites;
- (2) the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch and all the East;
- (3) the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East;
- (4) the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria;
- (5) the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians;
- (6) the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldees.
These rule over all members of their rite, except that the Armenian has no jurisdiction in Austria or the Crimea, where the Armenian Bishops of Lemberg and Artwin are exempt, being immediately subject to the Holy See.
Of the Latin patriarchs only one has jurisdiction: the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (over all Latins in Palestine and Cyprus). All the others are titular, namely: the Latin Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem, ornaments of the papal court at Rome; the “minor” Patriarchs of Venice, Lisbon, the West Indies, the East Indies. It should be noted that the modern Roman lists (e.g. the “Gerarchia Cattolica”) ignore the difference between those who have jurisdiction and the titular patriarchs and count all who bear the title of one of the old patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem) as major, all others (including Babylon and Cilicia) as minor.
Non-Catholics who bear the title now are the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem; the Nestorian patriarch at Kuchanis (his title is now “Catholicus and Patriarch of the East”); the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria; the. Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch; four Armenian patriarchs, the “Catholicus and Patriarch of all Armenians” at Etchmiadzin and those of Constantinople, Sis, and Jerusalem. The rights, dignity, and duties of patriarchs form part of the canon law of each Church. They are not the same in all cases. As a general principle it may be said that the fundamental notion is that a patriarch has the same authority over his metropolitans as they have over their suffragan bishops. Moreover, a patriarch is not himself subject to another patriarch, or rather he is not subject to any one’s patriarchal jurisdiction. But there is here a difference between Catholics and the others. All Catholics, including patriarchs, obey the supreme (papal) authority of the Roman pontiff; further we must except from our consideration the merely titular patriarchs who have no authority at all. In the case of the Eastern Churches the general principle is that a patriarch is subject to no living authority save that of a possible general council. But here again we must except the Armenians. Their catholicus had for many centuries authority over all his Church very like that of the pope. It is diminished now; but still one can hardly say that the other patriarchs are quite independent of him. He alone may summon national synods. The (Armenian) Patriarch of Constantinople has now usurped most of his rights in the Turkish Empire. One of these two ordains all bishops. The Patriarch of Sis may not even consecrate chrism, but is supplied from Etchmiadzin. A somewhat similar case is that of the Orthodox. Since the Turkish conquest the Œcumenical Patriarch has been the civil head of all the Orthodox in the Turkish Empire. He has continually tried and still to a great extent tries to turn his civil headship into supreme ecclesiastical authority, to be in short an Orthodox pope. His attempts are always indignantly rejected by the other patriarchs and the national Churches, but not always successfully. Meanwhile he has kept at least one sign of authority. He alone consecrates chrism for all Orthodox bishops, except for those of Russia and Rumania.
In the East the general principle is that the patriarch ordains all bishops in his own territory. This is a very old sign of authority in those countries. He is elected by his metropolitans or (permanent) synod, ordained, as a rule, by his own suffragans, makes laws and has certain rights of confirming or deposing his bishops, generally in conjunction with his synod, and may summon patriarchal (temporary) synods. The question of the deposition of patriarchs among the non-Catholics is difficult. Among the Orthodox they have been and are constantly deposed by their metropolitans or synod. They nearly always refuse to acknowledge their deposition and a struggle follows in which Constantinople always tries to interfere. Eventually the Turk settles it, generally in favour of deposition, since he gets a large bribe for the new patriarch’s berat. The special rights and duties of the patriarchs of the various Eastern Churches are given in Silbernagl (infra).
In the Catholic Church since Eugene IV (1431-47) cardinals have precedence over patriarchs. Uniat patriarchs are elected by a synod of all the bishops of the patriarchate and confirmed by the Holy See. They must send a profession of Faith to the pope and receive the pallium from him. Their rights are summed up by a Constitution of Benedict XIV (“Apostolica”, 14 Feb., 1742), namely: to summon and preside at patriarchal synods (whose acts must be confirmed at Rome), to ordain all bishops of their territory and consecrate chrism, to send the omophorion to their metropolitans, receive appeals made against the judgments of these, and receive tithes of all episcopal income; in synod they may depose their bishops. They bear their patriarchal cross not only throughout their own territory, but, by a special concession, everywhere except at Rome. All have a permanent representative at Rome. They must visit all their dioceses every third year and may not resign without the pope’s consent. The Bull “Reversurus” of Pius IX (1867) made further laws first for the Armenian patriarch; then with modifications it has been extended to other Uniats. The precedence among patriarchs is determined by the rank of their see, according to the old order of the five patriarchates, followed by Cilicia, then Babylon. Between several titulars of the same see but of different rites the order is that of the date of their preconization.
The titular Latin patriarchs have only certain ceremonial prerogatives. The Roman patriarchia are five basilicas, one the pope’s own cathedral, the others churches at which the other patriarchs officiated if they came to Rome, near which they dwelt. The papal patriarchium was originally the “Domus Pudentiana”; since the early Middle Ages it is the Basilica of Saint Saviour at the Lateran (St. John Lateran). The others are, or were, St. Peter for Constantinople, St. Paul Without the Walls for Alexandria, St. Mary Major for Antioch, St. Lawrence for Jerusalem. These are now only titles and memories.