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Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople

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Antonio Anastasio Rossi, last Latin Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 1948)

The Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople was an office established as a result of the Fourth Crusade and its conquest of Constantinople in 1204. It was a Roman Catholic replacement for the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and remained in the city until the reconquest of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261, whereupon it became a titular see. The office was abolished in 1964.



In the early middle ages, there were five patriarchs in the Christian world. In descending order of precedence: Rome by the Bishop of Rome (who rarely used the title "Patriarch") and those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

The sees of Rome and Constantinople were often at odds with one another, just as the Greek and Latin Churches as a whole were often at odds both politically and in things ecclesiastical. There were complex cultural currents underlying these difficulties. The tensions led in 1054 to a serious rupture between the Greek East and Latin West called the East–West Schism, which while not in many places absolute, still dominates the ecclesiastical landscape.

In 1204, the Fourth Crusade invaded, seized and sacked Constantinople, and established the Latin Empire. Pope Innocent III, who was not involved, initially spoke out against the Crusade, writing in a letter to his legate, "How, indeed, is the Greek church to be brought back into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See when she has been beset with so many afflictions and persecutions that she sees in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs?"[1][2] However the popes accepted the Latin patriarchate established by Catholic clergy that accompanied the Crusade, similar to Latin patriarchates previously established in the Crusader states of the Holy Land. The pope recognised these "Latin" sees at the Fourth Council of the Lateran. Furthermore, those Orthodox bishops left in their place were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the pope.[3]

However, the Latin Empire in Constantinople was eventually defeated and dispossessed by a resurgent Byzantium in 1261. Since that time Latin Patriarch Pantaleonе Giustinian (d. 1286) resided in the West, though continuing to oversee the remaining Latin Catholic dioceses in various parts of Latin Greece.[4] The continuing threat of a Catholic Crusade to restore the Latin Empire, championed by the ambitious Charles I of Anjou, led to the first attempts, on the Byzantine side, to effect a Union of the Churches. After the Union of Lyon (1274), John Bekkos was installed as a Greek Catholic Patriarch of Constantinople in 1275, but that did not affect the position of Pantaleonе Giustinian. His Greek Catholic counterpart was deposed in 1282 by Eastern Orthodox hierarchy, thus ending a short-lived union. in 1286, Latin Patriarch Pantaleonе Giustinian was succeeded by Pietro Correr who was the first holder of that office in a new form of a titular see.

On 8 February 1314, Pope Clement V united the Patriarchate with the episcopal see of Negroponte (Chalcis), hitherto a suffragan of the Latin Archbishopric of Athens, so that the patriarchs could once more have a territorial diocese on Greek soil and exercise a direct role as the head of the Latin clergy in what remained of Latin Greece.[5]

For a time, like many ecclesiastical offices in the West, it had rival contenders who were supporters or protégés of the rival popes.[citation needed] As to the title Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, this was the case at least from 1378 to 1423. Thereafter the office continued as an honorific title, during the later centuries attributed to a leading clergyman in Rome, until it ceased to be assigned after 1948 and in January 1964, along with the titles of the Latin Patriarchate of Alexandria and Antioch, it was no longer mentioned in the Vatican yearbook (rather than being announced as being abolished).[6] This was after Pope Paul VI met with Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople (see Pope Paul VI and ecumenism), showing the Latin Church by this point was more interested in reconciliation with the Eastern Church, abolishing the titular title. [7]

A Vicariate Apostolic of Istanbul (until 1990, Constantinople) has existed from 1742 into the present day.

List of Latin Patriarchs of Constantinople


See also



  1. ^ Phillips, J., (2009) Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (Vintage Books; London), p195.
  2. ^ Pope Innocent III - To Peter, Cardinal Priest of the Title of St. Marcellus, Legate of the Apostolic See. However, on the way to attack Constantinople the crusaders attacked another Christian city, Zara, and received papal absolution for this. de Villehardouin, G., (1908) Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople (J.M. Dent; London), p26.
  3. ^ Papadakis, A., (1994) The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press; Crestwood, NY), p204.
  4. ^ "Giustinian, Pantaleonе". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 57: Giulini–Gonzaga (in Italian). Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. 2001. ISBN 978-8-81200032-6.
  5. ^ Loenertz 1966, pp. 266–267.
  6. ^ "Three Latin quriarchafes dropped, yearbook reveals". 1964. p. 2. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  7. ^ McCormack, Alan (1997). "The Term "privilege": A Textual Study of Its Meaning and Use in the 1983 Code of Canon Law". Gregorian Biblical BookShop. p. 184. ISBN 9788876527739. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Constantinople (Titular See)" Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. retrieved March 24, 2016
  9. ^ "Titular Patriarchal See of Constantinople" GCatholic.org. Gabriel Chow. Retrieved March 24, 2016
  10. ^ Wolff 1954.
  11. ^ Hazlitt, W. Carew (1860). History of the Venetian republic: her rise, her greatness, and her civilisation, Vol. IV. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill. p. Chapter 22. Contarini was at the Council of Constance in November 1414.
  12. ^ "Patriarch Bonaventura Secusio, O.F.M. Obs." Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved September 30, 2016
  13. ^ "Patriarch Ascanio Gesualdo" Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved March 21, 2016