Why no "American" Orthodox Patriarchy?

Forgive my ignorance but Why is there no Patriarchy set up in America for the Orthodox Church? It seems that any of the Orthodox Churches in America are associated with one of the “Old” patriarchies. We have Greek Orthodox Churches or Russian Orthodox Churches.
It would seem that the “New World” (North America - South America) could/should have a Patriarchal status.

Just wondering.


You ask a good question. Part of the problem is that, unlike expansion in Europe, the spread of Orthodoxy into the United States came from two different areas. The Russian Orthodox Church spread into Alaska and down the western coast as far as San Francisco fairly early in the history of the United States. Other Orthodox arrived on the East Coast with their own traditions. Each reached back to the “homeland” for bishops and so there wasn’t a perception of a need for an American Patriarch – in part because the number of Orthodox grew relatively slowly.

It has only been in the last 100 years or so that the overlapping jurisdictions have caused some to be concerned. Further, the issue of the Russian Orthodox Church vs. ROCOR complicated issues since, historically, the United States should have been Russian territory. Today the presence of so many different Orthodox groups makes the selection of a single patriarch problematic at best.

I believe there has been some discussion of this, but as far as I know (and, as far as Orthodoxy is concerned, I’m an outsider since I’m Catholic) nothing has come from the talks.

Deacon Ed

All are overseas in other countries.

. . .

Yes I know, but why?

There is a Patriarch in Constantinople, and one in Alexandria, and one in Antioch, and one in Jerusalem, also one in Russia, one in Georgia (old ussr), as well as Serbia Romania and Bulgaria.
If one considers how many patriarchs there are in a relatively small geographic area, it begs hte question, why there aren’t ANY in the ENTIRE “New World” consisting of two huge continents.


America has a particular issue with religion.

I would suggest that granting a Patriarchy to the US or North America more broadly would be a mistake. There has never been a unique and dominant Orthodox cultural moment here by which they could lay the foundations for discernment and guidance that is required of a Patriarchal See. The United States and North America is still and will remain for the foreseeable future, a mission.


If you have a point to this statement that relates to why the Orthodox Church has not set up a seperate Patriarchy anywhere on the North or South American continent, please explain fully.
Please don’t just toss out one liners as though they are some kind of real, legitiamte and understandable answer.


Buried deep in the OCA website is mention of a claim to being the US National church. Their presence in lands now part of the US starts before the US, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The problem is that there was little overlap for many years… now that there is, the others are unwilling to conceed their churches and hierarchs into the OCA synod, for a variety of reasons.

Further, the OCA are autocephalous. Their metropolitan is the primatial bishop. Given time, I would expect, eventually, for their metropolitan to be acknowledged a patriarch, but not while there are 5 or more unaffiliated hierarchies.

Further, while OCA Autonomy is well accepted, OCA Autocephaly isn’t universally accepted, in part due to the canonical irregularities caused by 5+ orthodox churches operating in the US.


Perhaps because “American” Orthodoxy is not yet ready (i.e. “mature” enough)? Don’t forget that Russia, for example, did not have its own Patriarch till 1589 - some 600 years after the “Baptism of Rus’”.

And, as you no doubt know, until the Russian Revolution all Orthodox Christians in North America were united - under the ruling local Russian Bishop (who from 1898 to 1907 was St Tikhon of Moscow.)

Interesting year 1917: the Russian Revolution, Fatima…

Thanks. Great History lesson. :thumbsup:

Would the Cannonical differences need to be worked out before a Patriachy could be declared? Also How would that occur - vote by other Patriarchs?


The best bet for seeding an American Orthodox Patriarchate could be the SCOBA, an institutional representation of the 10 national or ethnic jurisdictions with presence in the USA.

The SCOBA is currently chaired by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is the largest among the Orthodox jurisdictions.

First to be resolved is the overlapping jurisdictions of these 10 “ethnic” Orthodox Churches. For example, the Greek Orthodox claims the entire U.S. as its jurisdiction. Ditto for the others.

Second, how to integrate all the bishops and clergy under “one” patriarchal jurisdiction.

Third, will all the chief hierarchs agree to come together as the first Holy Synod and elect from among themselves their first Patriarch?

(By the way, Orthodoxy does not even rank among the top 20 religious confessions with considerable following in the U.S.)

I am not sure why you are concerned about Patriarchiates of Orthodox church. But perhaps your question comes from such American ethnocentricism and xenophobia. But at same time, I wonder (as Orthodox from “Old World”) why there is not special Catolic Pope for New World, consisting of two huge continents.

You are asking the wrong people…

This is the EASTERN CATHOLIC section of CAF.

You state that as if these people owe you some sort of explanation. Are you trying to make some polemical point here? :confused:

You need to go to an Orthodox website or Byzcath.Org to start this food fight.

Here you may ask things like “why is there no Eastern Catholic patriarch for North and South America?” :slight_smile:

  1. No food fight intended. Honest Question.

  2. Sorry if this is the wrong forum - although I seem to be getting some pretty sound answers.

  3. The person I was responding to was not being helpful or productive to the conversation so I asked politely that he contribute or leave. He left.

  4. Thanks for the links.


To answer the second question first, the Pope in Rome is the “Universal Patriarch” for Latin Rite Catholics.

As to my “concern” it is nothing more and nothing less than a simple, honest question about how the Orthodox Church is set up.

By the way I am not ethnocentric or xenophobic, American or otherwise.
In my original post I asked for forgiveness of my ignorance, then asked my simple question. Several people have given me kind and informative answers. Others have not.

In any case I have learned something useful of the Orthodox Church in the “New World”.


While Michael is correct that the thread is misplaced (it is supposed to be in the Other Religions area), you’re likely to get reasonable answers here, unlike in the OR area.

I debated where to put it since Rome and Constantinople are the “Right and Left Lungs” of the Church as JP-II put it.
I just didn’t feel it to be a “non-catholic” question. I suppose if a moderator feels it is misplaced, they will move it.
In any case I feel I have gotten good answers from you.
Now I’m a little less ignorant. :wink:


Ok. I’ll link it in.

Why is there no Eastern Catholic Patriarch in America?

Given time, and growth, it’s possible the (now almost uniquely) American Eastern Rite Church, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church Sui Iuris may someday reach that status. As it is, our primatial bishop, Metropolitan Basil, answers to Rome and his own synod. Note that the Carpetho-Rusyn Greek Catholics in Europe are considered part of the same Church, but are direct papal dependencies, not under Metropolitan Basil’s Omophor.

The other Eastern Catholic prelates in the US all answer to their own Church’s Primatial Bishops, be they Metropolitans, Major Archbishops, or Patriarchs.

A better question is why the largest single eastern catholic church is still a Major Archbishopric, and not a Patriarchate… and that apparently boils down to Appeasing Alexi II of Moscow… as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is long overdue for it. Axios!

Just a word on the titlte Patriarch. The Church of Cyprus is autocephalous and has been, despite Antioch and Rome’s attempts to the contrary, since the Apostles (St. Barbabas founded her). Nontheless, her primate is an Archbishop, not a Patriarch.

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