Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
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, Baṭrīarkīyyat Anṭākiya wa-sā'ir al-mašriq li'l-Rūm al-Ūrthūduks, literally "Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East for the Rûm Orthodox"), is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of 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.
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 Syrian 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.
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 Yazigi, who presided over Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (2008–present), 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.
History and cultural legacy
Pauline Greco-Semitic roots
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is the most ancient Christian church in the world. According to Saint Luke:
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 of Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon 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.
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."
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"
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 and Roman imperial rule), but, in the modern era, the term tends to be more commonly used by followers of the Greek Catholic Church of Antioch.
Administration and structure
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 the election of Metropolitan John (Yazigi) as the new Patriarch, taking the name John X.
Archdioceses and metropolitans
In the Eastern Mediterranean:
- Archdiocese of Damascus: Patriarchal diocese
- Archdiocese of Aleppo (Beroea) and Alexandretta: Paul Yazigi (2000–present)
- Archdiocese of Bosra, Hauran and Jabal al-Arab: Saba Esber (1999–present)
- Archdiocese of Homs (Emesa): George Abu Zakhem (1999–present)
- Archdiocese of Hama (Epiphania) and Exarchate of North Syria: Elias Saliba (1984–present)
- Archdiocese of Latakia (Laodicea ad Mare) and Exarchate of Theodorias: John Mansour (1979–present)
- Archdiocese of Beirut and Exarchate of Phoenicia: Elias Audi (1980–present)
- Archdiocese of Akkar: Basilios Nassur (2008–present)
- Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon, Byblos and Botrys: George Khodr (1970–present)
- Archdiocese of Zahlé and Baalbek (Heliopolis): Spyridon Khoury (1966–present)
- Archdiocese of Tripoli and el-Koura: Ephraim Kyriakos (2009–present)
- Archdiocese of Tyre and Sidon: Elias Kfoury (1995–present)
- Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait and All Mesopotamia: Constantinos Papastefanou (1969–present)
- Archdiocese of Tarsos and Adana: vacant
- Archdiocese of Amida (Diyarbakır) : vacant
- Archdiocese of Theodosioupolis (Erzurum) : vacant
in Asia and Oceania:
- Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and All Oceania: Paul Saliba (1999–present)
in the Americas:
- Archdiocese of North America (Englewood, New Jersey); Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America: Philip Saliba (1966-)
- Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C.: Archbishop's diocese, resident Assistant to the Metropolitan - Bishop Nicholas Ozone (2011-)
- Diocese of Worcester and New England: John Abdalah (2011-)
- Diocese of Miami and the Southeast: Antoun Yssa Khouri (2004-), Titular Bishop of Seleucia (1983-2003)
- Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America: Basil Essey (2004-), Titular Bishop of Anfeh (1992-2003)
- Diocese of Los Angeles and the West: Joseph Al-Zehlaoui (2004-), dignified with the personal title of Archbishop in 2011, Titular Bishop of Katana (1991-2004)
- Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest: Joseph Al-Zehlaoui, Locum Tenens (2004-)
- Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and Mid-Atlantic: Thomas Joseph (2004–present)
- Diocese of Toledo and the Mid-West: Anthony Michaels (2011-)
- Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York: Alexander (2004–present)
- Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and Argentina: Siluan Muci (2006–present)
- Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean: Antonios Chedraoui Tannous (1996–present), Bishop of Cesarea and Patriarchal Auxiliary for Mexico (1966-1996)
- Archdiocese of Chile: Sergios Abad (1996-), Bishop of Salamias and Patriarchal Auxiliary for Chile (1988-1996)
- Archdiocese of São Paulo and All Brazil: Damaskinos Mansour (1997-)
Titular dioceses and bishops
- Diocese of Philippopolis: Niphon Saykali (1988-), dignified with the personal title of Archbishop in 2009
- Diocese of Darayya: Moussa El-Khouri (1995-)
- Diocese of Qarah: Ghattas Hazim (1999-)
- Diocese of Saidnaya: Loukas El-Khouri (1999-)
- Diocese of Cesarea: Ignatius Samaan (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Mexico
- Diocese of Apamea: Isaac Barakat (2011-)
- Diocese of ?: Nicholas Baalbaki (2011-)
- Diocese of Tartus: Athanasius Fahd (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Akkar
- Diocese of Safita: Demetrios Charbak (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Akkar
- Diocese of al-Hosn: Elias Toumeh (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Akkar
- Diocese of Larissa: Ignatius Al-Houshi (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe
- Diocese of ?: Constantine Kayal (2011-)
- Diocese of Palmyra: John (Hanna) Haikal (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe
- Diocese of Seleucia: Ephrem Maalouli (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe
- Diocese of Sergiopolis: Mark El-Khori (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil
- Diocese of Edessa: Romanos Daoud (2011-), Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil
- Church of Cyprus: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in 431 AD.
- Church of Georgia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch c. 474 AD.
- Church of Imereti and Abkhazia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in the 1470s, but later suppressed by the Russian Empire and not revived.
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Greek Orthodox Church
- Orthodox Christianity in Lebanon
- Orthodox Christianity in Syria
- List of Patriarchs of Antioch - to 518
- List of Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch - 518 to present day
- Antiochian Greeks
- Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
- Saint John of Damascus
- Saint Joseph of Damascus
- Saint Raphael of Brooklyn
- List of Orthodox Churches
- " History of Christianity in Syria ", Catholic Encyclopedia
- " Conflict and Diversity in the Earliest Christian Community", Fr. V. Kesich, O.C.A.
- “Christian Church to be Filled by a Damascus Preacher” (New York Times, September 15, 1895)
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- Patriarchate of Antioch (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Akkar (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Aleppo (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Baghdad and Kuwait (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Beirut (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Bosra, Hauran and Jabal al-Arab (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and Argentina (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Byblos and Mount Lebanon (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Chile (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Hama (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of North America (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Sao Paulo and Brazil (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Tripoli and el-Koura (Official Website)
- Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (Official Website)
- Balamand University (Official Website)
- Orthodox Youth Movement (Official Website)
- Church of Antioch (OrthodoxWiki)
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