Kuzenkov Pavel

The canonical status of Constantinople and its interpretation in Byzantium

Kuzenkov Pavel (2014) "The canonical status of Constantinople and its interpretation in Byzantium ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 53, pp. 25-51 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201453.25-51


The author subjects to thorough consideration the gradual change in the status of the Patriarch of Constantinople from the bishop of a minor town to the Ecumenical Patriarch possessing a certain set of administrative privileges. After giving a definition of the status of a bishop and ecclesiastical provinces in the ancient Church, the author, basing his conclusions upon canonical sources and their expositions in the Early Byzantine period, proceeds to develop the idea that the change in the bishop’s status went through several successive stages and that each new stage had its own causes, not the least important of which were of political nature. After both Rome and Constantinople, as political centers of the Roman Empire, received in the 4th century certain «privileges of honor» peculiar to capital cities, these privileges were consecutively modified into mandate of power. This process took several centuries to reach completion and was connected with the activities of the Emperors Zeno I and Justinian the Great (5th–6th centuries) who legally secured the new status of the bishop of the capital city and granted him the title of Ecumenical Patriarch. After the patriarchate of Photius and the confl ict with the bishops of Rome the Patriarch of Constantinople receives the right to intrude — in certain cases — into the canonical jurisdiction of other Churches, which becomes the key change in understanding the nature of supremacy. In later times this tendency was enhanced and reached its climax in the 20th century when the Ecumenical Patriarchate began testing the ground to expand its authority to the whole of the Orthodox world, with the further perspective of turning into a kind of «Orthodox Rome».


Constantinople, Rome, bishop, episcopal see, primacy, primatus, privileges, (Roman) Pope, Patriarch, diptychs, the Byzantine Empire, the Christian Church, Ecumenical Patriarch.


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Kuzenkov Pavel