- Parent Category: Orthodox Terminology
- Category: Glossary M
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METROPOLITAN - The head archbishop of an ecclesiastical province, with primacy of jurisdiction. As a mark of distinction the Metropolitan wears a white klobuk with a cross on it.
The title of archbishop or metropolitan may be granted to a senior bishop, usually one who is in charge of a large ecclesiastical jurisdiction. He may or may not have provincial oversight of suffragan bishops. He may or may not have auxiliary bishops assisting him.
In the Slavonic and Antiochian traditions, a metropolitan outranks an archbishop. The reverse is the situation in the Greek tradition. The Antiochian tradition also uses the style metropolitan archbishop to differentiate from metropolitan bishops in the Greek tradition.
The change in the Greek tradition came about in later Greek history, because the diocesan bishops of ancient sees (which in the Greek diaspora include most) came to be styled metropolitans, short for "metropolitan bishops."
The Slavonic and Antiochian churches continue to follow the older tradition, where an archbishop is a senior bishop in charge of a major see, and a metropolitan is a bishop in charge of a province which may include a number of minor and/or major sees.
In the Greek tradition, all diocesan bishops of autocephalous churches such as the Church of Greece (the bishop of Patras being Metropolitan) are now metropolitans, and an archbishop holds his title as an indication of greater importance for whatever reason. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is the notable exception in the Greek practice where diocesan bishops carry the title of metropolitan. In other churches under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia the ruling bishop is the archbishop while the other bishops are auxiliary bishops with titles of the ancient sees.