ROC: Pentarchy theory not recognised in the Christian world

Pentarchy members: Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Patriarch John of Antioch. Photo:

The Russian Orthodox Church has given a response to Metropolitan Gregory of Peristeri's proposal to revoke its autocephalous status.

The DECR ROC states that the decision to revoke the autocephalous status cannot be made by the "Council of the Pentarchy", reads the Commentary by the Communications Service of the DECR posted on 

"Such decisions, even more so, cannot be taken at a so-called ‘Council of the Pentarchy’ that the metropolitan of Peristeri Gregory talks about. We are obliged to remind readers that the theory of the ‘Pentarchy’ arose in the Orthodox East between the sixth and eighth centuries, but was never universally recognized throughout Christendom. Firstly, it was not recognized by the Church of Rome. Secondly, this theory left out of account the other autocephalous Churches which existed at the time, such as the Church of Georgia and the Church of Cyprus," says the DECR’s Commentary.

The Department for External Church Relations of the ROC reminded the Greek hierarch that at the end of the sixteenth century, when the four Eastern Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem accorded the Primate of the autocephalous Russian Church the dignity of Patriarch, he then occupied the fifth place in the diptychs of the Local Orthodox Churches.

"In its time the idea of the ‘Pentarchy’ was used by some theologians as a symbol and image of the equality of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches as a counterweight to the ambitions of the iconoclastic patriarchs of Constantinople and the absolutism of papal authority in the Roman Church. It is sad to see today how His Eminence the metropolitan of Peristeri uses the concept of “the accord with one mind of the five patriarchs” (Saint Theodore the Studite, Letter 478) to nullify the equality of the Local Orthodox Churches in favour of the latest papal ambitions of the Church of Constantinople," reads the official by the Communications Service of the DECR.

Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church emphasized that the ROC has always treated venerably the Eastern Patriarchates and supported them for centuries and today it tirelessly struggles for these Patriarchates to be preserved on their historical territory in conditions of ever-growing persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The UOJ wrote about why the Phanar needs the Pentarchy and what the Russian Church can expect from the “Council of Four”.

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