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{{About|the title in Christianity}}{{Catholic Church Hierarchy}}The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church (above major archbishop and primate), and the Church of the East are termed patriarchs (and in certain cases also popes).The word is derived from Greek πατριάρχης (patriarchēs),πατριάρχης, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus meaning "chief or father of a family", a compound of πατριά (patria),πατριά, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus meaning "family", and ἄρχειν (archein),ἄρχω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus meaning "to rule".Online Etymological Dictionary: "patriarch"Merriam-Webster: "patriarch"American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: "patriarch"Oxford Dictionaries: "patriarch"Originally, a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is termed patriarchy. Historically, a patriarch has often been the logical choice to act as ethnarch of the community identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (such as Christians within the Ottoman Empire). The term developed an ecclesiastical meaning, within the Christian Church. The office and the ecclesiastical circumscription of a Christian patriarch is termed a patriarchate.Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are referred to as the three patriarchs of the people of Israel, and the period during which they lived is termed the Patriarchal Age. The word patriarch originally acquired its religious meaning in the Septuagint version of the Bible.{{CathEncy|wstitle=Patriarch}}

Catholic Church

File:External Ornaments of Primates and Patriarchs (Interwoven with gold).svg|thumb|150px|Catholic Patriarchal (non cardinal) coat of arms]]


(File:1800 Wilkinson Map of the 4 Eastern Churches rectified.jpg|thumb|left|300px|Map of Justinian's Pentarchy)File:Gregorios-III-and-Jules-Zerey.JPG|thumb|right|250px|Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III LahamGregory III LahamIn the Catholic Church, the bishop who is head of a particular autonomous Church, known in canon law as a Church sui iuris, is ordinarily a patriarch, though this responsibility can be entrusted to a Major Archbishop, Metropolitan, or other prelate for a number of serious reasons.BOOK, Code of Canons of Eastern Churches, 1990, 58–59, Since the Council of Nicaea, the bishop of Rome has been recognized as the first among patriarchs.WEB, DOCUMENTS FROM THE FIRST COUNCIL OF NICEA,weblink History Sourcebooks Project, Fordham university, 30 September 2017, That Council designated three bishops with this 'supra-Metropolitan' title: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. In the Pentarchy formulated by Justinian I (527–565), the emperor assigned as a patriarchate to the Bishop of Rome the whole of Christianized Europe (including almost all of modern Greece), except for the region of Thrace, the areas near Constantinople, and along the coast of the Black Sea. He included in this patriarchate also the western part of North Africa. The jurisdictions of the other patriarchates extended over Roman Asia, and the rest of Africa. Justinian's system was given formal ecclesiastical recognition by the Quinisext Council of 692, which the see of Rome has, however, not recognized.There were at the time bishops of other apostolic sees that operated with patriarchal authority beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, such as the Catholicos of Selucia-Ctesephon.Today, the patriarchal heads of Catholic autonomous churches are:WEB, Patriarchs,weblink, 30 September 2017,

Major archbishoprics

Four more of the Eastern Catholic Churches are headed by a prelate known as a "Major Archbishop,"BOOK, Code of Canons of Eastern Churches, 1990, Catholic Church, 151–154, a title essentially equivalent to that of Patriarch and originally created by Pope Paul VI in 1963 for Josyf Slipyj:WEB,weblink CCEO: text - IntraText CT,, 4 May 2007, July 2013, Within their proper sui iuris churches there is no difference between patriarchs and major archbishops. However, differences exist in the order of precedence (i.e. patriarchs take precedence over major archbishops) and in the mode of accession. Whereas the election of a major archbishop has to be confirmed by the pope before he may take office,Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium: Can. 153 no papal confirmation is needed for a newly elected patriarch before he takes office. Rather, a newly-installed patriarch is required to petition the pope as soon as possible for the concession of what is called ecclesiastical communion.Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium: Can. 76An example of the petition and the granting of ecclesiastical communion: WEB,weblink Exchange of letters between Benedict XVI and His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Holy See Press Office, 2013-01-18, Furthermore, patriarchs who are created cardinals form part of the order of cardinal bishops, whereas major archbishops are only created cardinal priests.

Titular Latin patriarchates

Titular patriarchs do not have jurisdiction over other Metropolitan bishops. The title is granted purely as an honor for various historical reasons. They take precedence after the heads of autonomous churches in full communion, whether pope, patriarch, or major archbishop.

Historical Latin patriarchates

Patriarch as title ad personam

The pope can confer the rank of Patriarch without any see, upon an individual Archbishop, as happened on 24 February 1676 to Alessandro Cescenzi, of the Somascans, former Latin Titular Patriarch of Alexandria (19 January 1671 – retired 27 May 1675), who nevertheless resigned the title on 9 January 1682.

"Patriarch of the West"

In theological and other scholarly literature of the Early Modern period, the title "Patriarch of the West" (Latin: Patriarcha Occidentis; Greek: Πατριάρχης τῆς Δύσεως) was mainly used as designation for the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome over the Latin Church in the West. From 1863 to 2005, the title "Patriarch of the West" was appended to the list of papal titles in the Annuario Pontificio, which in 1885 became a semi-official publication of the Holy See. This was done without historical precedent or theological justification: There was no ecclesiastical office as such, except occasionally as a truism: the patriarch of Rome, for the Latin Church, was the only patriarch, and the only apostolic see, in the "west".The title was not included in the 2006 Annuario. On 22 March 2006, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity offered an explanation for the decision to remove the title. It stated that the title "Patriarch of the West" had become "obsolete and practically unusable" when the term the West comprises Australia, New Zealand and North America in addition to Western Europe, and that it was "pointless to insist on maintaining it" given that, since the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Church, for which "the West" is an equivalent, has been organized as a number of episcopal conferences and their international groupings.NEWS,weblink Zenit, Communiqué on title 'Patriarch of the West', 22 March 2006, 20 December 2017, Though the formulation "Patriarch of the West" is no longer used, the pope in that role issues the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church. During the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appeared, as patriarch of the Latin Church, with the other patriarchs, but without the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, though he was present at the same Synod.WEB, Meeting of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Major Archbishops with Pope Benedict XVI,weblink Society of St. John Chrysostom, 30 September 2017, 20 September 2009, ">

Current and historical Catholic patriarchates{| class"wikitable" style"margin:0 auto 5 auto"|+Current and historical Catholic patriarchates

! Type! Church! Patriarchate! Patriarch
Patriarchsof autonomousparticular churchesLatin Church>LatinPope>Rome| Pope Francis
Coptic Catholic Church>CopticList of Coptic Catholic Patriarchs of Alexandria>Alexandria| Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak
Syriac Catholic Church>SyrianList of Syriac Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch>Antioch| Ignatius Joseph III Younan
Maronite Church>MaroniteList of Maronite Patriarchs>Antioch| Bechara Boutros al-Rahi
Melkite Greek Catholic Church>Greek-MelkiteList of Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch>Antioch| Youssef Absi
Armenian Catholic Church>ArmenianList of Armenian Catholic Patriarchs of Cilicia>Cilicia| Krikor Bedros XX Gabroyan
Chaldean Catholic Church>ChaldeanList of Chaldean Catholic Patriarchs of Babylon>Babylon| Louis Raphaël I Sako
Major archbishopsof autonomousparticular churchesUkrainian Greek Catholic Church>UkrainianList of Major Archbishops of Kiev-Galicia>Kiev-Halych| Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church>Syro-MalabarList of Major archbishops of Ernakulam-Angamaly>Ernakulam-Angamaly| George Alencherry
Syro-Malankara Catholic Church>Syro-MalankaraList of Major Archbishops of Trivandrum>Trivandrum| Baselios Cleemis
Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic>RomanianList of Major Archbishops of Făgăraş and Alba Iulia>Făgăraş and Alba Iulia| Lucian Mureșan
TitularLatin Ritepatriarchs| LatinPatriarchate of Aquileia>Aquileia suppressed in 1751
| Latin
Patriarch of Grado>Grado suppressed in 1451
| Latin
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem>Jerusalem vacant since 2016
| Latin
Patriarch of Lisbon>LisbonManuel Clemente>Manuel (III) Clemente
| Latin
Patriarch of Venice>Venice| Francesco Moraglia
| Latin
Latin Patriarch of Alexandria>Alexandria suppressed in 1964
| Latin
Latin Patriarch of Antioch>Antioch suppressed in 1964
| Latin
Latin Patriarch of Constantinople>Constantinople suppressed in 1964
| Latin
Patriarch of the East Indies>East Indies| Filipe Neri Ferrão
| Latin
Patriarchate of the West Indies>West Indies vacant since 1963

Eastern Christianity

Eastern Orthodox

Patriarchs outside the Eastern Orthodox Communion

Oriental Orthodox Churches

Church of the East

Patriarchs of the Church of the East, sometimes also referred to as Nestorian, the Church of Persia, the Sassanid Church, trace their lineage of patriarchs back to the 1st century.


The term patriarch has also been used for the leader of the extinct, dualist, heretical Manichaeist sect, initially based at Ctesiphon (near modern-day Baghdad) and later at Samarkand.

Other independent uses

The title of "Patriarch" is assumed also by the leaders of certain relatively recent groups, who are in communion with none of the historic Christian Churches. Many, but not necessarily all such patriarchs are church leaders of the independent Catholic Churches:
Independent Catholic

Independent Eastern Catholic

Independent Eastern Orthodox

Independent Oriental Orthodox


Latter Day Saint movement
In the Latter Day Saint movement, a patriarch is one who has been ordained to the office of patriarch in the Melchizedek priesthood. The term is considered synonymous with the term evangelist, a term favored by the Community of Christ. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the patriarch's primary responsibilities is to give patriarchal blessings, as Jacob did to his twelve sons according to the Old Testament. Patriarchs are typically assigned in each stake and possess the title for life.

See also



Further reading

  • BOOK, harv, Nedungatt, George, George Nedungatt, A Guide to the Eastern Code: A Commentary on the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,weblink 2002, Rome, Oriental Institute Press,

Sources and external links

{{Catholicism}}{{Patriarchates in Christianity}}{{Christianity footer}}

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