Patriarchates and Schism

It seems to me that early in the Church, when a formal schism arose and the various patriarchates would oscillate back and forth from having primates sympathetic to one side, followed by those sympathetic to the other side, it was customary for the resulting churches to institute their own competing patriarchates. We see this in places like Jerusalem and Antioch where there to this day are competing Patriarchs from the various churches.

The other three patriarchates seem to be exclusive to one particular communion though: Constantinople is exclusively Eastern Orthodox (Greek), Rome is exclusively Roman Catholic (Latin), and Alexandria is exclusively Oriental Orthodox (Coptic). Why haven’t there been “alternative patriarchates” established by the other churches in these cases? In the same vein, why was the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem abolished? What reasoning do the various churches use in determining which patriarchal sees ought to have replacements made after schisms, and which should not?

There is also a Chalcedonian (Greek) Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. So really, the question pertains only to two patriarchates, I should suppose.

I think this website will help you a little. It has a few paragraphs under the list of Catholic Patriarchs.

As you can see, the Roman Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch & Constantinople were suppressed in 1964.

We also do have a Roman Patriarch of Jerusalem, which was restored in 1847.

God Bless.

There actually is a Greek (Byzantine/Eastern) Patriarch of Alexandria and an Armenian (Oriental Orthodox) Patriarch of Constantinople.

Only the bishop of Rome has no counterpart. Not saying that proves anything, of course.

Interesting! So the situation is even more complex than I first surmised. So why do the various churches have patriarchates in some sees but not in others?

Why does the RCC have a counterpart in Jerusalem but not in Alexandria or Constantinople?
Why does the Byzantine/EOC have a counterpart in Jerusalem but not Rome?
Why do the Orientals have a counterpart in Constantinople but not Rome, etc.?
Why did any of the churches even consider replacing patriarchates that went into schism?

Also, why has Rome suppressed some of its patriarchal sees but not all of them (save for Rome)?

I’m really looking for the perspective of all parties involved: Roman, Byzantine, and Oriental alike.

In the past I’ve been given the following reasons the Roman Patriarchate hasn’t been re-established by Orthodoxy:

  1. It would’ve been impossible until recently. Just picture what would’ve happened if we had tried to put another bishop in Rome in the middle ages, or in the Renaissance, or really any time up till now. It wouldn’t have lasted and we didn’t have a lot of the resources to maintain a presence in the West anyway, what with Muslim oppression.

  2. We don’t do it today out of respect. It would kill any attempt at reconciliation and the important political protection the pope can still offer His All Holiness, who is in a difficult situation, not to mention the other Middle Eastern patriarchs. Besides The Pope is still deserving of some consideration and respect. The Orthodox veneration of Ss. Peter and Paul still give His Holiness quite a bit of honor in Eastern eyes.

  3. Replacing the Bishop of Rome is not very easy. The new patriarch would have to come from somewhere, and it would probably be a very important position. Many have said that the hierarchy would have to be re-structured, because Rome no longer holds the position it once did (especially within Orthodoxy) and you don’t put a baby convert at the head of the table, but even so, Constantinople wouldn’t be too keen to see a Russian bishop in that cathedra, and vice versa.

Nevertheless I have heard some talk about re-establishing the Orthodox Patriarchate in Rome. It’s not very serious talk at all, and not from anybody in any position to do anything about it. There are more pressing concerns to be dealt with.

Vey interesting thread. Having very knowledge of Patrarches my question is how did they come about? When did the idea start of having a Patraraches ?

The Church can have as many Patriarchates as she wants, and she can do away with patriarchates. Because Patriarchates are Ecclessial they are not divine offices.

The only divine offices consecrated by Jesus himself, is the office of Peter who is the Bishop of Rome and Bishop’s who are apostolic successors to the apostles themselves in communion with Peter.

These bishop’s have the divine authority to anoint assistants at the table, who are priest’s and deacon that fall under the sacrament of Holy orders.

The Patriarch office is never holy orders. it is ecclessial that is subject to change, whereby holy orders are not subject to change.

During the time when patirach’s evolved there were only three or 4 apostolic see’s existing the bishop of Rome where Peter is, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. I believe in that order of authority.

The Emperor of Rome appointed bishop’s as overseers within his empire in the fourth century, where we begin to see Patriarchates evolve, such as the new one in the new Rome of Constantinople. From this history on, this Patriarch who is a bishop, yet has the ear of the Roman Emperor gains much power and wealth over the other Emperor appointed Patriarchates.

Hi Gabriel of 12: Thanks for your reply. I did understand the order of Patriarchs and knew the Bishop of Rome being the head of the Catholic Church was what we call a Patriarch and that the other 3 sees had one too. However, I was wondering how they got started on the first place or how they evolved, not of the Pope in Rome but the other sees. do you know when they started before the 300’sAD as that seems to me to when they may have started, but do know if that is correct or not.

Patriarchates developed organically. As certain cities became important or were major cities the bishop of that area became a Patriarch. When the churches were organized into jurisdictions the patriarch became like the CEO; he had a tie-breaking vote, was the guy other bishops would turn to for advice, was given the greatest honor, etc. They were usually started by an apostle:

(in no particular order)
The Patriarchate of Alexandria was started by St. Mark
The Patriarchate of Antioch was started by St. Peter
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem was started by St. James
The Patriarchate of Rome was started by Ss. Peter and Paul
The Patriarchate of Constantinople was started by St. Andrew

Later, when Constantinople became the capital of the Roman Empire the Patriarch of Constantinople became the second highest (against Rome’s wishes, if I remember correctly).

Now, in Orthodoxy, when a church become autocephalous, that is they are no longer overseen by an older Mother Church, the head of their council of bishops is made a Patriarch. So we have the Patriarch of Moscow, of Serbia, of Armenia, etc. etc. Sometimes they’re not called “Patriarch” because of the local language. For example, the Patriarch of Alexandria is called Pope, not Patriarch.

From our perspective the Pope of Rome is just another Patriarch, so as Gabriel said, we can dissolve or restructure it, and its loss is not catastrophic to The Church. However, as I said, he is an important figure historically, and so we haven’t replaced him.

But Church structure was patterned after the Roman Empire style of governance or structure. I will try to find the link that traced the history of this and send it to you.

Rawb…wasn’t there a time there was no bishop in Constantinople? I remember seeing a gap between a period of time and when Constantinople became the roman capital that a bishop was again seated?

But these new patriarchs do not have the same authority as the older sees? Is this the case?

I think this is usually the case but not always. For example, Greece and Cyprus are autocephalous churches but they are led by Archbishops, not Patriarchs. The OCA has a Metropolitan.

Hi pablope: Thanks for your information ad your attempt to try and find out more on the history. I am quite interested in this as I think it can help to understand better how the Churches were formed and how the Bishops became Patriarchs. It seemed to me that Constantinople was built by Constintine. What seems also interesting is there were 12 Apostles so why did not all of them have or became Patriarchs where those Churches were founded by them? Don’t know if that makes any sense, but hope so. again thanks for your input.

Hi, spina; We never hear of any Patriarchs from history until 451 a.d during the council of Chalcedon. the bishops of the East at this time were considered the patriarch’s of the Church united to one head the bishop of Rome.

Eastern Patriarchs are heirs of the Eastern apostolic see’s. where the Orthodox claim their Patriarch of Constantinople owed it’s prestige to St. Andrew.

When Alexandria owes it’s prestige to Peter because Mark was Peter’s disciple, Antioch owes it’s prestige to Peter because Peter was it’s first bishop.

The Patriarch of Constantinople during the fifth century, is considered an Imperial Patriarch to the Emperor of Rome. Although the apostolic succession is prestiged from the apostle Andrew according to the Orthodox.

The political power is prestiged from the Eastern Emperor’s to the Patriarch’s of Constantinople. There were great Saintly Patriarch’s of Constantinople united to the Bishop of Rome. When the Patriarch overreached it’s political powers to usurp Church authority, leads to the schismatic circumstances, that still haunts the unity with the bishop’s of Rome today.

Though apostolic succession is made from Andrew, Constantinople never existed during the time of the apostle. The Patriarch of Constantinople was an Imperial office with powerful political status with the Emperor’s of the East.

The Patriarch of Constantinople usurped the apostolic see’s of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. This Imperial patriarch made political moves to ursurp the power and prestige from the bishop of Rome. From this history onwards, leads up to the multiple schisms that reconciled and remain today.

We must not forget, that it was not until the ecclessiastical office of patriarch’s appear, is when the unity of the Church comes under attack, by the many Patriarch’s of the East kept falling into heresy and became heterodoxy to the Orthodox Patriarch’s of the East.

The Pope is the bishop of Rome first. When viewed as Patriarch of the West from the East is not until after 451 a.d. partly because both East and Western Roman Empire was united under one Emperor.

When the Eastern Emperor loses his political power in the West, the patriarchial status of the Pope of Rome loses it’s flavor and remains the bishop of Rome.

Although some Orthodox still maintain the Pope as Patriarch of the West. It was never so, until Constantine united the Roman Empire. Before Constantinople there was only one authority that all other apostolic see’s assured, and that was the bishop of Rome, Peter’s apostolic successor.

Peace be with you

Be careful here; although the East and Western Empire are united under one Emperor, and the Emperor’s elected to appoint the Church’s Bishop’s as Patriarch’s over his Metropolitan cities with in his Empire, that followed the politcal protocol of the Roman Emperor’s political power and structure with in the Empire.

Let us not confuse the divine ordained office of Bishop’s which belongs to God with the political structure of the Patriarch’s under the Emperor’s which belong to Ceasar.

Let us not forget Jesus is our King, and the Heirarchial office of the Church that Jesus consecrated to himself still remain with our Pope (Peter) and the bishop’s world wide united to Peter’s apostolic successor, while the political Ceasars have long gone.

The Catholic Church is never a democracy, She has a King and a Lord of Lords as her head.

The Church has outlived every secular Empire, Kingdom, Nations and peoples. If she adopted or patterned her divine office after these fallen away secular powers? We would not have a Church at all. It will be everyone for themselves.

**So I would have to disagree with you that the Church patterned herself after the Roman Empire. For her to do so, our Pope would be viewed as our king or emperor, which he never is. The Pope is the Vicar on earth to our eternal King and Lord Jesus Christ.

The Pope is the only apostolic successor that has never officially subjected his divine office as bishop of Rome into the hands of Emperors or heresy.

Peace be with you**

No, they do…The Patriarch of Constantinople cannot interfere with any other bishops, even bishops who are part of the same synod of which he is head. He definitely cannot go into any other church and change things. So patriarchs are just bishops, really, but in my experience our bishops have more say within their own diocese than Roman bishops, and less say in others. That’s just a perception/brief observation.

So if there were a procession, the Patriarch of Constantinople would outrank the Patriarch of Moscow. If Moscow decided to make a change in the liturgy it would effect only the Diocese of Moscow. If the Patriarch of Serbia wants to remove the Bishop of Western America, well he’s out of luck, he has no right to do that.

So there’s a difference in rank, but not in authority? Except rank comes with authority, but that authority is not legal authority…

You know, picture it like a family of brothers who each have their own family as well. The oldest brother is most respected, but he only really controls what goes on in his own family. The other brothers can disagree with him on issues and still remain brothers, and the oldest brother cannot kick a brother out of the family-at-large. The honor/authority/advice paradigm of the Orthodox Church is almost exactly like that.

As regards some historical information on this thread, which I’m not going to get into on a Roman forum, I’ll just say that the Roman Catholics and Orthodox have a very different view of history.

Here it is:

Byzantium and the Roman Primacy

Instead of repeating all the known arguments pro and contra, let us try the historical method and examine the position which the Byzantine Church took on this problem from earliest times on up to the period when the estrangement between the Eastern and Western parts of mediaeval Christianity became apparent and began to envenom the atmosphere in which the Churches had to live.

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