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The Orthodox Church / Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Number of faithfulapprox. 3 million
Title of First HierarchPatriarch of Antioch and all the Orient
See of the First HierarchDamascus (Syria)
Current incumbentJohn X (Yazigi), born 1955, in office since 2012
Bishops and dioceses43 bishops; 34 dioceses, mainly in Syria and Lebanon, also in the USA (8) and in Latin America (5)
Liturgical LanguageArabic
Calendarmixed calendar (Gregorian/Julian)
Presence in Austriaapprox. 5,000 believers; 2 parishes, 1 priest, 1 deacon
Presence in Germanyapprox. 80,000 believers; 2 bishops (metropolitan and vicar bishop), See in Cologne; 27 parishes, 22 priests, 4 deacons

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch emerged from the adherents of the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon (451) within the early Patriarchate of Antioch. The conquest of Antioch by the Muslim Arabs in 637 weakened the church and brought it increasingly under Byzantine influence. The West Syrian rite was steadily replaced by the Byzantine one. During the Crusader rule, the patriarch was forced to flee into exile in Byzantium. Despite the fact that after the conquest of Antioch by the Egyptian Mamluks in 1268, the patriarch was able to return to Antioch, the city had already lost its significance. Then the Patriarchate relocated its headquarters to Damascus as early as the 14th century. When the region was conquered by the Turkish Ottomans in 1517 and all Orthodox believers were placed under the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Antioch came under even greater Byzantine influence. As a rule, only Greeks could be consecrated as bishops and patriarchs. This led to tensions with the Arabic-speaking majority of the faithful, which could only be resolved through the appointment of patriarchs of Arabic origin from 1899.

The Patriarchate's close connection with Constantinople is evident to this day by the fact that it is referred to in Arabic as the "Rum Orthodox Patriarchate". The word "Rum" is the Arabic term for the Romans, meaning the Byzantines, who referred to Byzantium as the "New Rome". Ιn the second half of the 20th century, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch became a promoter of ecumenical dialogue within Orthodoxy. The longtime head of the Rum Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ignatios IV (1979-2012), gained a high reputation far beyond the borders of his own church through his ecumenical commitment. The current Patriarch John X (since 2012) is also considered to be ecumenically open due to his ecumenical engagement. Disputes with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem regarding jurisdiction over the Orthodox Christians in the Emirate of Qatar resulted in the absence of the Patriarchate of Antioch from the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete (2016). In April 2022, the Antiochian Orthodox Metropolis of Germany and Central Europe was recognized as a public body.


  • A. Chehadeh, Die Griechisch-Orthodoxe Kirche von Antiochien und dem ganzen Orient (Rum-orthodox), in: Wort und Antwort 51 (2010) 170-176.
  • G. Tamer, Kirche der Übergänge – die Rum-Orthodoxe Kirche im Libanon und in Deutschland, in: S. Gralla (Hg.), Oriens Christianus. Geschichte und Gegenwart des nahöstlichen Christentums, Münster u.a. 2003, 93-110.