FIRST WITHOUT EQUALS – A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate

Met Lambriniadis

Metropolitan Elpidorphoros Lambriniadis

Source: Ecumenical Patriarchate

Metropolitan Elpidorphoros Lambriniadis, Archbishop-Elect of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, claims that the Ecumenical Patriarch is “First Without Equals”.

Usually not stated so clearly, the following paper by Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, Metropolitan of Bursa, and Archbishop-Elect of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, states the position that the Ecumenical Patriarch is really not “first among equals” but “first without equals.” That is not a position the other hierarchs worldwide are willing to accept. The impasse resulting from the two clashing positions is surely a cause of “the anomalies in the organization and life of the Orthodox Church” in thirteen regions across the globe for which the patriarchates established “assemblies of bishops to heal, as quickly as possible, these anomalies.”  What are your thoughts?

CLICK HERE to read “FIRST WITHOUT EQUALS”. (Originally posted on November 13, 2015)



  1. Andrew Kartalis on

    “First without equals” – What an incredible statement to be making in this day and age. It is no wonder that the other Patriarchs are not supporting the the road to unity as envisioued by Patriarch Bartholomew and, therefore, the Assembly of Bishops has been going nwwhere for the past six years. The Church needs to be looking forward to today’s world and not ancient history.

    • Andrew,

      I agree with you and with Father John. This is an heterodoxical statement and essentially schismatic in nature.

  2. The “equal” patriarchs have order, there is a first – of Constantinople, a second – of Alexandria, a third – of Antioch and a forth – of Jerusalem, and there is the archbishop of Cyprus – all of them from ecumenical synods, all the rest have their title because and from the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.

  3. George D. Karcazes on

    Dr. Adamou,

    Does that “order” mean that one rules over the others? The original order of the first five, included Rome as “first”. When the Emperor Constantine moved the seat of the Roman Empire to Byzantium (re-named in his honor as “Constantinople”) it became the “New Rome”. After the schism between Rome and Constantinople Rome went its own way claiming primacy over everyone. The East refused to accept Rome’s claims, Protestants split from Rome, and the rest, as they say is history.

    The East retained its own “order” of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This “order” was originally based on the political importance of the cities at the time. Moscow claims to be the “Third Rome” and is challenging Constantinople based on population, territory, etc. Constantinople responds by establishing Archdioceses and Metropolitanates around the world: America, Australia, Thyateira and Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria, Sweden and all Scandinavia, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Panama, Hong Kong (and all Asia!!) Spain and Portugal (and the Mediterranean Sea!), and Korea, claiming all of these territories to be under its control.

    These claims seem to be based on an expansive interpretation of an ancient grant of jurisdiction over nearby “barbarian lands” to now encompass all of the then unknown areas of the world including the western hemisphere and most, if not all of Asia.

    While the Patriarchs and Patriarchates argue over who is “first” and who controls which territories and who and how autocephaly can be granted or withheld — the faithful in America remain separated into multiple ethnic “jurisdictions”, attendance is down, stewardship is down, parishes are closing and our children and grandchildren are walking away.

  4. Eaftosmou Krymmenos on

    Mr. George D. Karcazes, why does an administrative order have to automatically mean “ruling over the others”? That’s the idea which the Russians and their followers claim that it would be behind the Ecumenical Patriarch’s actions nowadays. More, the EP became suddenly “heretic” for them once autocephaly was granted to Ukraine. However, If there would be no administrative order, established by the canons of the Ecumenical Councils, how could the Universal/Catholic Orthodox Church be governed? If all the bishops would be administratively equal, how could administrative anarchy be stopped? The Russians simply want for the Church to radically re-interpret, if not even to abrogate or change, all the canons having to do with administrative matters, aiming to introduce a “primacy of the numbers” (exactly as the shockingly-titled “First among equals” paper claims), in order for them to take advantage and rule the Church. Indeed, the Russian bishops are most likely more than the bishops of any other autocephalous Orthodox Church and, if we would consider the factor of Pan-Slavism as we should, they could lure and bring on their side many of the bishops of the autocephalous Churches of other than Russian Slavic nation-states. Regardless of how shocking the title of the Archbishop-Elect of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Elpidorphoros Lambrianidis, would be, maybe the believers should ask themselves if he might not somehow be actually right about its content. How many of those who blame its title did actually read and carefully considered the arguments brought in the paper? …

  5. George D. Karcazes on

    Mr. Krymmenos,

    I suppose I should thank you for resurrecting my post from last May! However, I don’t see what your post has to do with the point I was trying to make in mine. I do not believe that I was taking sides in the disputes between Moscow and Constantinople.

    I was simply lamenting the effect that the current disharmony among the leaders of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches is having on the goal of healing the un-canonical situation that exists here in America. Please re-read the last paragraph in my post. I heard an old saying from my Yiayia in Greek (translation): “The world is burning and the old lady is combing her hair” . Which brings to mind another old saying: “”Rome is burning and Nero is playing his fiddle.”

    Our church here in America needs to be united under a single synod of canonical bishops that elects its own presiding bishop. Divided in 14 ethnic “jurisdictions” whose bishops are selected by, and report to foreign synods the Church cannot bring the message of Orthodoxy to the American nation.

    [Aside to “Nikolai”.. I know about the OCA! I’m sure the OCA would gladly agree to be included in a united Orthodox Church in the US. If you don’t believe me, ask your bishop. Continually bringing up the fact that the OCA is already “Autocephalous” and that everyone should just join the OCA is like playing a violin with only one string. The OCA bishops are all members of the Assembly. No one expects them to “come under Constantinople” just as no one expects everyone else to “come under Moscow.”]

    The heads of all of the Autocephalous Churches, who unanimously authorized the establishment of Assemblies of Bishops around the world should empower the Assembly in the US to declare itself to be a local synod over the territory of the US. Moscow and Constantinople, as well as Damascus, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia should put their differences aside over Ukraine and agree that the Church in America should be united. Let the bishops and the Orthodox faithful work out the details.

    The US Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776.. it took them until 1787 to come up with a workable Constitution that governs us to this day. With the help of the Holy Spirit which is present everywhere and fills all things our bishops and faithful can divide the territory of the US into 52 dioceses so that there is only “one bishop” in each diocese and resolve all other issues that need to be addressed to bring our Church into canonical order.

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