Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch logo.gif
Coat of arms
Founder Apostles Peter and Paul
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Orthodox
Primate John X Yazigi Patriarch of Antioch and all the East (Dec 17, 2012)
Headquarters Damascus, Syria
Territory Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, parts of Turkey, formerly Cyprus, formerly Georgia (country) and parts of the Central Caucasus area, United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, European Union
Possessions Partial custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Language Koine Greek, Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Members Estimated 2 million
Website www.antiochpatriarchate.org

The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, also known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East and the Antiochian Orthodox Church (Greek: Πατριαρχεῖον Ἀντιοχείας, Patriarcheîon Antiocheías; Arabic: بطريركية أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس‎, Baṭriyarkiyya Anṭākiya wa-Sāʾir al-Mashriq li'l-Rūm al-Urthūdhuks, "Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East"), is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, it considers itself the successor to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter and Paul.

The seat of the patriarchate was formerly Antioch, in what is now Turkey. However, in the 14th century, it was moved to Damascus, modern-day Syria, following the Ottoman invasion of Antioch. Its traditional territory includes Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and also parts of Turkey. Its territory formerly included the Church of Cyprus until it became autocephalous in 431. Both the Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Cyprus are members of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Its North American branch is autonomous, although the Holy Synod of Antioch still appoints its head bishop, chosen from a list of three candidates nominated in the North American archdiocese. Its Australasia and Oceania branch is the largest in terms of area.

The head of the Orthodox Church of Antioch is called a Patriarch. The present Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch is John X Yazigi, who presided over Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (2008–2013), who was elected on December 17, 2012 as primate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All The East as John X of Antioch (Yazigi). He succeeded Ignatius IV who died on December 5, 2012. Membership statistics are not available, but may be as high as 1,100,000 in Syria and 400,000 in Lebanon.

It is one of several churches that lays claim to be the canonical incumbent of the ancient see of St. Peter and St. Paul in Antioch. The Oriental Orthodox Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch makes the same claim, as do the Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, all of them Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See. These three, however, mutually recognize each other as holding authentic patriarchates, being part of the same Catholic communion. The Roman Catholic Church also appointed titular Latin Rite patriarchs for many centuries, until the office was left vacant in 1953 and abolished in 1964 and all claims renounced.

History and cultural legacy[edit]

Pauline Greco-Semitic roots[edit]

The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch claims the status of most ancient Christian church in the world. According to Luke the Evangelist- himself a Greco-Syrian member of that community:

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (New Testament, Acts 11:26)

St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostle are considered the cofounders of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the former being its first bishop. When Peter left Antioch, Evodios and Ignatius took over the charge of the Patriarchate. Both Evodios and Ignatius died as martyrs under Roman persecution.

Some historians believe that a sizable proportion of the Hellenized Jewish communities and most gentile Greco-Macedonian settlers in Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon- the former being called "Hellenistai" in the Acts- converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the “Melkite” (or "Imperial") Hellenistic Churches of the MENA area:

As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria.[1]

In Acts 6, Luke the Evangelist, himself a ‘Greco-Syrian’ founding member of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and its earliest chronicler points to the problematic cultural tensions between the Hellenized Jews and Greek-speaking Judeo-Christians centered around Antioch and related Cilician, Southern-Anatolian and Syrian “Diasporas” and (the generally more conservative) Aramaic-speaking Jewish converts to Christianity based in Jerusalem and neighboring Israeli towns:

"The ‘Hebrews’ were Jewish Christians who spoke almost exclusively Aramaic, and the ‘Hellenists’ were also Jewish Christians whose mother tongue was Greek. They were Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora, who returned to settle in Jerusalem. To identify them, Luke uses the term Hellenistai. When he had in mind Greeks, gentiles, non-Jews who spoke Greek and lived according to the Greek fashion, then he used the word Hellenes (Acts 21.28). As the very context of Acts 6 makes clear, the Hellenistai are not Hellenes."[2]

Some typically Grecian "Ancient Synagogal" priestly rites and hymns have survived partially to the present in the distinct church services of the Melkite Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of the Hatay Province of Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

Dual self-designation: "Melkites" and "Eastern Romans"[edit]

The unique combination of ethnocultural traits inhered from the fusion of a Greek cultural base, Hellenistic Judaism and Roman civilization gave birth to the distinctly Antiochian “Middle Eastern-Roman” Christian traditions of Cilicia (Southeastern Turkey) and Syria/Lebanon:

" The mixture of Roman, Greek, and Jewish elements admirably adapted Antioch for the great part it played in the early history of Christianity. The city was the cradle of the church."[3]

Members of the community in Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon still call themselves Rûm which means "Eastern Roman" or "Asian Greek" in Arabic.

In that particular context, the term "Rûm" is used in preference to "Yāvāni" or "Ionani" which means "European-Greek" or Ionian in Biblical Hebrew (borrowed from Old Persian Yavan = Greece) and Classical Arabic.

Members of the community also call themselves "Melkites", which literally means "monarchists" or "supporters of the emperor" in Semitic languages (a reference to their allegiance to Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine imperial rule), but in the modern era, the term tends to be more commonly used by followers of the Greek Catholic Church of Antioch and Alexandria and Jerusalem.

Administration and structure[edit]

After the death of the head of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Ignatius IV (Hazim), Patriarch of Antioch, Syria, Arabia, Cilicia, Iberia, Mesopotamia and All the East, on December 7, 2012, Metropolitan Saba Esber was elected locum tenens until the election of the new patriarch. On Monday, 17 December, the Holy Synod of Antioch announced[4] the election of Metropolitan John (Yazigi) as the new Patriarch, taking the name John X.

Archdioceses and metropolitans[edit]

In the Middle East:

in Asia and Oceania:

in Europe:

in the Americas:

Titular dioceses and bishops[edit]

  • Diocese of Philippopolis: Niphon Saykali (1988–), elevated to Archbishop in 2009 and elevated to Metropolitan in 2014, Representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East at the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
  • Diocese of Darayya: Moussa Al-Khoury (1995–), Patriarchal Assistant - Damascus
  • Diocese of Saidnaya: Luka Al-Khoury (1999–), Patriarchal Assistant - Damascus
  • Diocese of Qara: Ghattas Hazim (1999–), Abbot of Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery
  • Diocese of Cesarea: Ignatius Samaan (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Venezuela, Archdiocese of Mexico
  • Diocese of Bloudan: Nicholas Baalbaki (2011–), President of the Spiritual first instance court
  • Diocese of Nineveh: Athanasius Fahd (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Tartous, Archdiocese of Akkar
  • Diocese of Banias: Demetrios Charbak (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Safita, Archdiocese of Akkar
  • Diocese of Arthoussa: Elias Toumeh (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Marmarita, Archdiocese of Akkar
  • Diocese of ?: Constantine Kayal (2011–), Abbot of St Elias – Shwayya Patriarchal Monastery
  • Diocese of Palmyra: Hanna Haikal (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe
  • Diocese of Seleucia: Ephrem Maalouli (2011–), Patriarchal Vicar, Director of the Patriarchal Office and Secretary of the Holy Synod
  • Diocese of Sergiopolis: Mark Khouri (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil
  • Diocese of Edessa: Romanos Daoud (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil

Daughter churches[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ " History of Christianity in Syria ", Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ " Conflict and Diversity in the Earliest Christian Community", Fr. V. Kesich, O.C.A.
  3. ^ "Antioch," Encyclopaedia Biblica, Vol. I, p. 186 (p. 125 of 612 in online .pdf file. Warning: Takes several minutes to download).
  4. ^ http://orthodoxesantiochenice.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/election-de-se-monseigneur-jean-patriarche-dantioche-et-de-tout-lorient/

External links[edit]