Studia Ełckie (Jun 2021)

La nozione di Patriarca nel Diritto Canonico Orientale e la teoria della Pentarchia

  • Aghabious Gergis

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 2
pp. 261 – 273


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The figure of the Patriarch has always had a great importance in the life of the Church over the centuries. Furthermore, the patriarchal institution has its roots in the experience lived by the Church since the time of the Apostles, indeed, even before the Ecumenical Councils which recognized it and sanctioned it. The Patriarch, according to the discipline of Eastern Canon Law, is a bishop who presides over a “sui iuris” church of patriarchal rank, who has authority over the bishops, metropolitans and all Christian faithful of the Church he governs, according to the approved law by the Supreme Authority of the Church. He presides over his Church as “pater et caput” and this expression indicates the collegial nature of the patriarchal government in some Eastern Churches, where all the ecclesiastical and civil powers in a country with a Christian minority are concentrated in the person of the Patriarch. The root of the Pentarchy dates back to the first millennium. It refers to the collegiality of the five Patri-archs, precisely, the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem in the government of the universal Church. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI renounced the title of “Patriarch of the West” and this was the cause of a controversial debate on the theory of the “Pentarchy” between Catholics and Orthodox. A strong debate, very similar to that, was the debate concerning the patriarchal institution in relation to the Primacy of the Roman Apostolic See. Unfortunately, this debate has sometimes caused deep wounds such as the schisms between East and West. Today, however, this institution, rediscovered with new light of Vatican II, could contribute to the ecumenical journey towards the perfect union of all Christians.