Author Topic: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?  (Read 3338 times)

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Offline Basil 320

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In my experience, it seems to me that the Traditional Practice of the Church was to have bishops oversee dioceses; archbishops oversee larger dioceses; and a Metropolitan serving as first among them, in a province or local church.  Although, only a minor deviation from what I just noted, I've seen in the Orthodox Church in America, that bishops are elevated to the dignity of archbishop, as some sort of honor; their dioceses are not necessarily archdioceses.  This Traditional Practice is maintained in the Slavic churches, the Romanian Church and the Greek dominated Church of Jerusalem, today.

However, in Greek practice, i.e. Constantinopole; Alexandria, Antioch (whose Tradition was controlled by the Greeks until the early 20th Century), and Cyprus, the system is inverted.  Since the 20th Century, possibly half of a century earlier, the diocese is a metropolis, headed by a Metropolitan, (although he is referred to liturgically as an archbishop), and the metropolitans gather around an Archbishop, who serves as the Primate or First Hierarch.

Why did the Greek practice change and how did it change?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2008, 10:06:15 PM by BTRAKAS »
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2008, 10:18:06 PM »
In my experience, it seems to me that the Traditional Practice of the Church was to have bishops oversee dioceses; archbishops oversee larger dioceses; and a Metropolitan serving as first among them, in a province or local church.  Although, only a minor deviation from what I just noted, I've seen in the Orthodox Church in America, that bishops are elevated to the dignity of archbishop, as some sort of honor; their dioceses are not necessarily archdioceses.  This Traditional Practice is maintained in the Slavic churches, the Romanian Church and the Greek dominated Church of Jerusalem, today.

However, in Greek practice, i.e. Constantinopole; Alexandria, Antioch (whose Tradition was controlled by the Greeks until the early 20th Century), and Cyprus, the system is inverted.  Since the 20th Century, possibly half of a century earlier, the diocese is a metropolis, headed by a Metropolitan, (although he is referred to liturgically as an archbishop), and the metropolitans gather around an Archbishop, who serves as the Primate or First Hierarch.

Why did the Greek practice change and how did it change?

Wha?

Greek practice:  Diocese-Bishop.  Large Regional Diocese-Metropolitan.  Largest City Diocese & President of Synod-Archbishop.  The sees of Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Alexandria all have Archbishops, and historically have had Archbishops.  The Metropolitan Bishops arose around other large cities.  "Bishop" was in a rural diocese, or in a subdivision of the Big City.  Under current Greek practice, both Metropolitans and Archbishops have the ability to have "suffrigan" (sp?) Bishops - i.e. "floating" bishops under their direct authority.

In Greece they've elevated all the Bishops and Diocese to "Metropolis/Metropolitan" status, probably because of the large number of believers in each diocese, probably to empower the Metropolitans to have bishops under them to help with administration and whatnot.  Whether they employ such bishops or not is irrelevant.  But a "Metropolis" is still a Diocese, just as an Archdiocese is still just a Diocese (in America we've screwed that up).  Whether they're called Metropolises or Diocese doesn't change that fact - just changes the administrative abilities of that bishop, and acknowledges the relative size of that diocese.

So what is your question?  The "Greek practice" hasn't changed for a long time, if at all.
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2008, 11:16:52 PM »
Umm.  I understand some of your points.  However, larger dioceses in Constantinople? Alexandria?  Large, inactive dioceses, headed by a titular bishop?  What is that?    The Greek system is changed from historical practice.  How is it that the primate is an Archbishop?  If he were head of a large city, why is he not a metropolitan?  Look at the titles of Greek hierarchs prior to the 19th Century.  The local bishop was a bishop.  In the canons he is referred to as a bishop.  The Greeks changed at some point, I think in the 20th Century; 1920's or so.  Why did they change? Why must they be referred to liturgically as "archbishops?"  I know, they are archbishops within their own dioceses, excuse me, metropolises. Certainly there is merit to your points, encouraging axillary bishops, etc. 

(Jerusalem has remained in line with the older practice, which the Slavs maintain.)
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2008, 11:56:11 PM »
The Slavic practice is not the older practice either.

The older practice was that Metropolitans were the heads of the chief diocese of a province and each diocese was headed by a bishop (the Greeks changed this around 1920).

An Archbishop was someone outside the Metropolitan system who was directly subject to the patriarch.

Cleveland is right insofar as a Metropolis or Archdiocese technically is what the GOARCH in America calls the "Archdiocesan District" and the entire collection of dioceses is a province or eparchy I believe. Is that correct? I am forgetting that point.

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« Last Edit: June 02, 2008, 11:58:10 PM by Deacon Anastasios »
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Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism and may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.

Offline Basil 320

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2008, 12:05:35 AM »
Anastasios, Thank you so much.  Several knowledgeable clergyman have not been able to give me the information that you have.  The year you noted is what I had sort of guessed.

Do you know how the change came about?  Do you know why the change was initiated?  Did it start in the Church of Greece?

As to your question about the GO Archdiocese of America, as cleveland makes note of; your correct as to the overall jurisdiction.  It is an Archdiocese of a nation, America; an archdiocese because it is a province or eparchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  The area under the Archbishop of America's immediate jurisdiction, doesn't have a canonical designation; it is called the "Direct Archdiocesan District," (as opposed to an indirect archdiocesan district, I suppose; neither is it called the Archdiocese of New York.) The other ecclesiarchal regions are designated "metropolises."  So, you have an eparchy, designated as an archdiocese; a "direct archdiocesan district;" and  -7- metropolises, within the Archdiocese of America.  His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, speaking at a Leadership 100 conference, told the audience, "it is an entirely unique situation."  Yes, he's right about that.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 12:23:36 AM by BTRAKAS »
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2008, 12:17:12 AM »
Umm.  I understand some of your points. 

And it is clear from your post that I don't understand yours.

However, larger dioceses in Constantinople? Alexandria?  Large, inactive dioceses, headed by a titular bishop?  What is that?    The Greek system is changed from historical practice. 

Constantinope and Alexandria are not titular bishops.  The Archbishop of Constantinople is the Ecumenical Patriarch, whose full title (which has not changed since his elevation to the dignity of Patriarch and the assumption of the title of Ecumenical) is "Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch."  The Archbishop of Constantinople is the president of the Synod of Constantinople.  The Archbishop of Antioch (who is also Patriarch) is the president of the Synod of Antioch.  The Archbishop of Alexandria (who is also Pope and Patriarch) is the president of the Synod of Alexandria.

The "titular" bishops (Bishops, Archbishops and Metropolitans of dormant sees) are tied to diocese that have no status.

How is it that the primate is an Archbishop?  If he were head of a large city, why is he not a metropolitan? 

I don't know - the bishop of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria have been Archbishop for a long time. (I've made a purposeful grammatical error in order to ensure correct understanding of my point.)

Look at the titles of Greek hierarchs prior to the 19th Century.  The local bishop was a bishop.  In the canons he is referred to as a bishop.  The Greeks changed at some point, I think in the 20th Century; 1920's or so.  Why did they change?

Honor, size... who cares?  The system hasn't changed.

Why must they be referred to liturgically as "archbishops?"  I know, they are archbishops within their own dioceses, excuse me, metropolises. Certainly there is merit to your points, encouraging axillary bishops, etc.


Metropolitan and Archbishop are of equal administrative rank; their titles are just used differently.  In the Greek practice the bishop of the largest city of the region is an Archbishop (meaning he is higher than the Bishops), versus a Metropolitan who is a bishop of a large city (and, technically, he is a "Metropolitan Archbishop"... but who cares about that?).  Athens - Archbishop.  Constantinople - Archbishop.  Cyprus - Archbishop.  Alexandria - Archbishop.  Jerusalem - Archbishop.  Antioch - Archbishop.  They have been historically Archbishops.  The other major Patriarchates have come from cities that have been historically Metropolises (because they are not ancient sees, but rather were suffrigant diocese of Constantinople) - hence why their Patriarchs and presidents are Metropolitans.

(Jerusalem has remained in line with the older practice, which the Slavs maintain.)

???
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2008, 12:43:10 AM »
I can see cleveland, you did not understand my question, but replied with interesting information. Thank you.  (I did know that the Archbishop of Constantinople, etc. and the Patriarch of Alexandria, etc., were not auxiliary bishops.  I was only referring to the fact that they are surrounded, substantially, not exclusively, by titular bishops and titular metropolitans, in response to your earlier post that Greek bishops may have been elevated to metropolitan rank due to the size of their dioceses, to encourage assistant bishops.  What do titular bishops of inactive dioceses need assistants for?)

 Look at Anastasios' reply. He understood what I was trying to get at. 

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Offline Thomas

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2008, 11:16:36 AM »
I believe that most "Titular bishops" are assigned as suffragan bishops or bishop administrators for the synod.  With the destruction of traditional bishoprics and exchanges of population or exodus from an area, their bishoprics were assigned to these suffragans or administrators to provide them bishop status and give the Patrirachs ability to assign them where needed and when they were needed. The year 1920 would correspond to the approximate time for the exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece and the expulsions from other middle eastern countries of Orthodox Christians.

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Offline admiralnick

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2008, 01:14:50 PM »
In the end, it all boils down to a bishop is a bishop is a bishop.

The Apostles are still Bishops
The Ecumenical Patriarch is still a bishop
The Archbishop ___________ (fill in the blank) is still a bishop
The Metropolitan ___________ is still a bishop

Etc
Etc
Etc
Basically, if you lay it out in the idea of Deacon, Priest, Bishop; all models end up with deacons serving communities; priests serving parishes, and bishops serving many parishes. Anything above that in my opinion is largely symbolic and only based on how many churches you over see, or how long you've been enthroned or some other metric of determination.

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Offline SolEX01

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2008, 01:16:45 PM »
It is an Archdiocese of a nation, America; an archdiocese because it is a province or eparchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  The area under the Archbishop of America's immediate jurisdiction, doesn't have a canonical designation; it is called the "Direct Archdiocesan District," (as opposed to an indirect archdiocesan district, I suppose; neither is it called the Archdiocese of New York.) The other ecclesiarchal regions are designated "metropolises."  So, you have an eparchy, designated as an archdiocese; a "direct archdiocesan district;" and  -7- metropolises, within the Archdiocese of America.  His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, speaking at a Leadership 100 conference, told the audience, "it is an entirely unique situation."  Yes, he's right about that.

In GOA, there are 8 Metropolises and the Direct Archdiocesan District.

Because New York is the seat of the Exarchy and the Exarch is the leader of the Eparchial Synod, there is no reason to refer to New York as Metropolis or Exarchate.

Also, by not referring to New York as a Metropolis allows for deference to the Russians and Antiochians who had Hierarchs in New York.

EDIT - Changed Eparch to Exarch and Eparchy to Exarchy
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 01:35:48 PM by SolEX01 »

Offline Quinault

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2008, 02:23:26 PM »
This is the setup we have in my Antiochian Parish

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP
The Right Reverend Bishop JOSEPH
then our priest is the "V. Rev. James Bernstein, Dean." He overseas the NW parishes. And he was elevated to "archpriest" right about when he was given this position. So an archpriest is just a priest? Or is there some sort of title that goes with that?


I am exceedingly new to this, and I hope I haven't asked an innane question.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 02:25:32 PM by Quinault »

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2008, 03:31:45 PM »
I am exceedingly new to this, and I hope I haven't asked an innane question.
Not at all. Archpriests are priests. Archbishops are bishops. The "arch" part indicates a large parish or diocese or some special honour bestowed on the clergyman.
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Offline Quinault

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2008, 03:33:02 PM »
Ah! Thanks for the clarification.

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2008, 03:35:49 PM »
No problem. I had the same question myself not too long ago when I was present at a ceremony raising a priest to an archpriest.
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2008, 09:21:45 PM »
SOLEX1, 

Re.: Reply #9

I've respected the posts I've read of yours, previously.  I would strongly recommend that you not believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch or the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America would defer, in America or elsewhere in the so called diaspora, to the OCA or the Antiochian's, especially in regard to seniority of an episcopal see.

Where did I go wrong as to the number of Metropolises' in the GOAA?  You are right about this; I missed New Jersey in my count last night:

0 Direct Archdiocesan District
1 Chicago
2 Boston
3 San Francisco
4 Atlanta
5 Pittsburgh
6 Detroit
7 Denver
8 New Jersey
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2008, 09:36:25 PM »
^OK, thank you for the complement in the first sentence.   :)

I honestly do not believe in anything other than the current situation.  Since no greater Synod will be convened to hash out such issues, the status quo works for now.   ;)

Offline SolEX01

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Re: How and Why Did Greek Churches Change Hierarchcal Positioning?
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2008, 10:06:28 PM »
I would strongly recommend that you not believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch or the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America would defer, in America or elsewhere in the so called diaspora, to the OCA or the Antiochian's, especially in regard to seniority of an episcopal see.

EP was afraid of that happening at Ligonier in 1994.  I was mistaken in my original post other than trying to explain the logic of not calling an Archdiocesan seat anything other than Direct Archdiocesan District.   :)