So here is the history in a much clearer fashion:
All five churches recognise a single sequence of bishops until 518. In that year, Severus, who rejected the Council of Chalcedon, was deposed by the Byzantine Emperor Justin I and replaced by the Chalcedonian Paul the jew, but Severus and his followers did not recognize his deposition. This led to two rival sequences of patriarchs: Severus and his successors, recognized by the two Syriac churches (Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox); and Paul and his successors, recognized by the Antiochan Orthodox, Melkite, and Maronite Churches. It was the successors of Paul who were recognized as legitimate by the Byzantine government.
Based on this; Emperors have no ecclesiastical authority and thus the deposition of Severus was not canonical. As such The line of Severus holds legitimacy and the two Syriac churches hold the best claims as they succeed from Severus.
The line of Severus was one until the election of Mar
Ignatius Michael III Jarweh in 1781. The clergy and laity met in the Dayr al-Zafaran monastery and elected Ignatius Michael III Jarweh as Patriarch; he accepted only after the reading and the approval of a Catholic declaration of faith in the Church of the Forty Martyrs, Mardin. He was enthroned in Mor Hananyo Monastery on 22 January 1783 and took the traditional name of Ignatius III.
His election was confirmed by the Pope on September 14, 1783, and he received the Pallium, the sign of patriarchal authority, on December 15 of the same year.
Two Syriac bishops opposed his election and two days after Michael’s enthronement, they took the money of the monastery and paid a group of Kurds who attacked Mardin making fatalities, however, Michael survived.
In the meantime one of these two Syirac Orthodox bishops, Mar Matta ben Abdel-Ahad Saalab, consecrated to bishop four of his monks in order to hold a second election and thus he was elected Syriac Orthodox patriarch and the modern Syriac Orthodox descend from this line.
Thus the legitimate patriarch of Antioch is the Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. The listing of best claims is as follows :
- Syriac Catholic
- Syriac Orthodox
- Antiochan Orthodox
As a note of interest: All legitimate lines of patriarchs are found in the Catholic Church:
The Syriac Orthodox result from a rival election to oppose the legitimate patriarch of the Syriac Church and thus are a rival line to the legitimate line of Syriac Catholic Patriarchs.
The Antiochan Orthodox line also is a result of Constantinople opposing the legitimate Melkite Orthodox Patriarch, Cyril VI Tanas, who together with his synod declared union with Rome. In response to the Melkite Synod becoming catholic the Ecumenical Patriarch appointed Sylvester, a Greek monk, as the rival patriarch and the modern Antiochan Orthodox Church descends from this line.
The Maronites have no Orthodox counterpart.
Thus, Antioch has truly reunited with the Catholic Church.