Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Meeting The Orthodox

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5. Organization

What about all of those titles then: Patriarch, Metropolitan, Archbishop, Bishop? What does all of this mean?

In Orthodoxy, the bishop is the leading church officer, and all bishops have exactly the same sacramental position in guiding the people of God.

A bishop of a large and important area of leadership (usually called a diocese) may be called archbishop or metropolitan, the latter meaning simply the bishop of a chief city, a metropolis.

The patriarch is the bishop of the most important city and diocese in a local church and is normally the leading bishop of a country (patria means country). This is especially the case when within the self-governing church of which the Patriarch is primate there are other bishops with metropolitan sees. For example, in Russia the bishop of Moscow is the patriarch; the bishops of Kiev and Leningrad are metropolitans; and there are other archbishops and bishops within the local church.

However, once again, it cannot be over stressed that all bishops, regardless of their title or the size and importance of their diocese, are identically equal with regard to their sacramental position. None is higher or greater than the other; none rules over another.


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