Current Charter - A New Charter for the Second Centennial
Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (2003)
Preamble and Canonical Jurisdiction
a. - The Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (“Archdiocese”), with its headquarters located in the City of New York, New York, United States of America, is an Eparchy of the most Holy, Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople (“Ecumenical Patriarchate”), which is the first-ranking see of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church whose head is Christ.
b. - The Archdiocese, being Hierarchical, as an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, is governed by the Holy Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, the Holy Canons, this Charter, the Regulations promulgated pursuant hereto (“Regulations”), and as to canonical and ecclesiastical matters not provided for herein, by the decisions of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (“Holy Synod”).
c .- The Archdiocese receives within its ranks and under its spiritual aegis and pastoral care Orthodox Christians, who either as individuals or as organized groups in Dioceses and Parishes have voluntarily come to it and which acknowledge the supreme spiritual, ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the case of the coming to the Archdiocese of organized groups, either Orthodox or heterodox, the opinion and approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is required, as it exercises its ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Orthodox in the Diaspora.
d. - The Archdiocese serves and pastors to the Orthodox Christians who live in the United States of America.
Mission of the Holy Archdiocese
a. - The mission of the Archdiocese is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, to teach and spread the Orthodox Christian faith, to energize, cultivate and guide the life of the Church in the United States of America according to the Orthodox Christian faith and Sacred Tradition.
b. - The Archdiocese sanctifies the faithful through the Divine Worship, especially the Holy Eucharist and other Sacraments, building the spiritual and ethical life of the faithful in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, the doctrines and canons of the Ecumenical and local Synods, the canons of the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church and of all other Synods recognized by the Orthodox Church, as interpreted by the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople.
c .- The Archdiocese serves as a beacon, carrier and witness of the message of Christ to all persons who live in the United States of America, through Divine Worship, preaching, teaching and living the Orthodox Christian faith. As to its intra-Orthodox, intra-Christian and inter-religious activities, the Archdiocese follows the positions and guidelines established by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Organization of the Holy Archdiocese
a. - The Archdiocese, being the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in the United States of America, is one indivisible entity in its entirety. It is comprised of the New York based Direct Archdiocesan District (“Archdiocesan District”), and Metropolises, the number, seat, and boundaries of which are designated by the Sacred Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese (“Eparchial Synod”), in consultation with the Archdiocesan Council (“Archdiocesan Council”), and are submitted for evaluation and decision to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
b. - The Archdiocese of America has its seat in New York City and is incorporated in the State of New York. It is presently comprised of the Direct Archdiocesan District and eight (8) Metropolises. These Metropolises, which also are incorporated, are (according to the order of the English alphabet) the following: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New Jersey, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
c. - The Direct Archdiocesan District and each Metropolis, being incorporated and recognized by civil law, are administered by their respective hierarch according to the Holy Canons, the Ecclesiastical Regulations, and the provisions of this Charter .
Governance of the Holy Archdiocese
a. - Comprised of the Archbishop as President and the Metropolitans as its members, the Eparchial Synod constitutes the ecclesiastical instrument of governance of the Archdiocese.
b. - Presided over and represented by its President, the Archbishop, the Eparchial Synod has the ecclesiastical and canonical responsibility for the Archdiocese to the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is its superior ecclesiastical authority.
The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Holy Archdiocese
a. - The Archbishop as President and the Metropolitans as members constitute the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Holy Archdiocese of America (“Eparchial Synod”). The Archbishop convenes and presides over meetings of the Eparchial Synod which shall meet in regular session, according to the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church, twice annually, in the spring and in the autumn. The Eparchial Synod may also meet in special session if a special need arises, or if the Ecumenical Patriarchate requests it, in which case the meeting is obligatory. The Eparchial Synod may also be especially called at the request of the Archbishop or of a majority of its members, with the agenda topics specified.
b. - The Eparchial Synod has all of the authority and responsibility that the Holy Canons and this Charter ascribe to the “Eparchial Synod”. All legal issues which affect the Archdiocese as a whole and its Metropolises are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Eparchial Synod. Through its president, the Eparchial Synod shall inform the Ecumenical Patriarchate about the issues discussed and the decisions made at its meetings.
c. - Regulations hereafter promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate shall govern its manner of operation.
Responsibilities and Rights of the Archbishop
The Archbishop of America presides over the Holy Eparchial Synod and is the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the United States of America. In his capacity as Archbishop, as President of the Eparchial Synod and as Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, among other rights and responsibilities, the Archbishop:
Exercises and performs all of the rights and duties designated for his office by the Holy Canons.
Is responsible, together with the Eparchial Synod over which he presides, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning the canonical and orderly functioning, life, governance and activities of the one and indivisible Archdiocese.
Reports to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to which he forwards an annual report on the status of the entire Archdiocese.
Is directly responsible for pastoring and governing his own Archdiocesan District.
Oversees and coordinates, together with the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council, the work which is planned and carried out in each Metropolis, through which the unity of the indivisible Archdiocese is secured and enhanced.
Ordains and installs the Metropolitans in their eparchies.
Supports his fellow Hierarchs in a brotherly manner as they implement the unified programs of the Archdiocese.
Presides over the Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congresses, the meetings of the Archdiocesan Council and the boards of trustees of the major institutions and organizations of the Archdiocese.
Represents the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in their dealings with all ecclesiastical and civil authorities in the United States of America.
Presides as Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over Pan-Orthodox councils, meetings and assemblies and promotes and fosters harmony and cooperation among all Orthodox Christians in the United States of America.
Is responsible for intra-Christian and inter-religious activities in the United States of America.
Cultivates and strengthens even more the existing bond of unity between the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Carries out and implements the provisions of this Charter.
Responsibilities and Rights of the Metropolitans
a. Each Metropolitan within his ecclesiastical district and the Archbishop in his Direct Archdiocesan District have the rights and responsibilities of a Bishop in accordance with the Holy Canons and the long established life, praxis and order of the Church as well as the provisions of this Charter, including the exclusive right to occupy the throne behind the altar (Synthronon).
b. Among the rights and responsibilities of each Metropolitan are the following:
To be a member of the Eparchial Synod and participate in its work, forwarding to the Archbishop an annual report regarding the progress of the work of his Metropolis.
To ordain deacons and priests for his Metropolis, following his submission of their candidacy to the Eparchial Synod and the Eparchial Synod’s approval.
To consecrate and sanctify for worship churches and chapels.
To administer his Metropolis in a considered, orderly, harmonious and fiscally responsible manner for the common good.
To convene and preside over the Spiritual Court of First Instance in his Metropolis.
To issue permits for the celebration of the sacrament of marriage and decrees of ecclesiastical divorce in the event of the dissolution of marriage.
To distribute to the parish priests the Myron (Holy Chrismation Oil) which is received from the Holy and Great Church of Christ through the Archbishop, and
To have his pheme (Bishop’s anthem) canonically chanted during the Divine Liturgy. His pheme, however, shall not include hypertimia (supreme honor) and exarchia (exarchy).
c. During the periods between meetings of the Eparchial Synod, the Archbishop having received to this end its authorization of the Eparchial Synod, issues the ordination permit as well as the permit to the Metropolitans of the indivisible Archdiocese of America for their canonical (annual) or extraordinary absence outside the United States.
Order of Commemoration
During Divine Worship, the Sacraments and the Sacred Services, Priests and Deacons commemorate their canonical Hierarch. The Archbishop and the Metropolitans commemorate the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch at the liturgical exclamation of the “en protois mnestheti…” (first of all remember Lord…). The Auxiliary Bishops commemorate the name of their respective Hierarch. At the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy, after the commemoration of their Archbishop and Patriarch, the Metropolitans also commemorate their Archbishop in America.
a. A Spiritual Court of First Instance functions within the Archdiocesan District and within each Metropolis. Each Spiritual Court is comprised of four senior clergy selected by the Hierarch, who presides over it, and hears cases involving family problems, divorce, and moral and disciplinary offenses of clergy and lay persons. The Court decrees the measures of correction and healing as provided by the Holy Canons and Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
b. The Spiritual Court of Second Instance (Appeals) is comprised of the Archbishop, who presides over it, the members of the Eparchial Synod and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese as secretary. In the absence of the Archbishop for good cause, the first ranking among the Metropolitans shall preside. It is convened when the Eparchial Synod meets, and hears at the Second Instance all appeals of decisions from the Spiritual Courts of First Instance. The Hierarch who was the judge of the First Instance Court shall not participate in the decision of the Spiritual Court of the Second Instance (Appeals).
c. Appeals from the rulings of the Spiritual Court of the Second Instance (Appeals) involving Clergy and Laity may be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for review. The decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding these appeals are final and irrevocable.
d. According to ecclesiastical authorization granted to it, the Eparchial Synod convenes as a Spiritual Court of First Instance for cases involving Metropolitans and Bishops.
e. Acting as a Second Instance Court and a Court of Appeals, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate hears and judges irrevocably those cases.
f. The Eparchial Synod submits any charges which require defrocking of clergy to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The proposed defrocking can only be determined by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
g. The operating procedures of the Spiritual Courts will be based upon Regulations hereafter promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress
a. Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congresses (“Congress”) are convened at least triennially and presided over by the Archbishop. Except for dogmatic or canonical matters, they are concerned with all other matters which affect the life, mission, growth and unity of the Archdiocese of America, and especially the uniform administration of the Archdiocesan District, the Metropolises and Parishes, the educational programs, financial programs and philanthropic concerns of the Archdiocese, and the more active participation of the Archdiocese in the life of the United States of America. The Congress makes such decisions as it deems appropriate.
b. The Congress is presided over by the Archbishop and is comprised of the members of the Eparchial Synod, the Auxiliary Bishops, the members of the Archdiocesan Council, and clergy and lay representatives of the Parishes of the Archdiocese.
c . The decisions of the Congress are submitted by the Eparchial Synod, through its President, the Archbishop, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval. In the event that no response is received from the Ecumenical Patriarchate within ninety (90) days following the receipt of the decisions by it, the decisions shall be deemed approved. Following their approval, the decisions must be faithfully and firmly adhered to by all Parishes, whether or not they were represented at the Congress, and regardless of whether they voted with the minority.
d. Regulations hereafter promulgated shall set forth the composition, functioning, and frequency of convening of the Congress.
Local Clergy-Laity Assemblies
a. The Archdiocesan District and each Metropolis shall have a Clergy-Laity Assembly (“Assembly”) convened and presided over by its local Hierarch. The Assembly is comprised of the priests and lay representatives of the Parishes within its jurisdiction and the members of the Local Council.
b. Except for dogmatic or canonical issues, the local Assemblies are concerned with matters affecting the life and growth of the Archdiocesan District or the Metropolises, as may be applicable, and the unity thereof. They deal with local matters including the uniform governance of the Parishes, educational programs, financial programs and philanthropic concerns, as well as with the better organization and effectiveness of the Parishes.
c. Each Assembly may propose to the Archdiocese items for inclusion in the agenda of the upcoming Congress.
d. Regulations hereafter promulgated shall set forth the composition, functioning, and frequency of convening of the Assembly.
a.- In the event of a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the member of the Eparchial Synod first in order of seniority of episcopal ordination, or--if he is impaired--the next in rank, becomes the locum tenens by designation of the Ecumenical Patriarch, until the election of the new Archbishop.
b.- In the event a Metropolitan See becomes vacant, the Archbishop, in consultation with the Eparchial Synod, designates the Metropolitan of an adjacent See as the locum tenens who serves until a successor is elected.
Election of the Archbishop
a. The election of the Archbishop is the exclusive privilege and the canonical right of the Holy Synod. The Eparchial Synod, as well as the Archdiocesan Council, have an advisory opinion regarding the person of the Archbishop to be elected. This opinion will be submitted in writing to the Holy Synod in a timely fashion or it may be submitted by a special delegation so that it may be duly evaluated on the basis of meritocratic criteria.
b. A candidate for the office of Archbishop must be a person of deep faith and ethos, a Greek Orthodox Christian, a graduate of an academically accredited Orthodox school of theology of the highest level and have all the qualifications as provided by the Holy Canons for Hierarchical office. Also, the candidate shall have a fluent knowledge of spoken and written English and Greek, have proven ability in administration and pastoral work, and be totally committed to the preservation of unity within the Archdiocese as well as to its bond of unity with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In addition, he shall not be less than forty (40) years of age and have had a period of successful service in the Archdiocese of no less than five (5) years, or to have proven, direct, substantive and broad knowledge of the life and status of the Church in America.
c. Those fulfilling the above conditions are candidates regardless of the place of residence or service during the time of the election.
Election of a Metropolitan
a. In every regular meeting and in consultation with the Archdiocesan Council, the Eparchial Synod reviews and modifies, through additions and deletions, the list of those eligible for the office of Metropolitan. The Auxiliary Bishops are automatically included in this list by virtue of their office. The Eparchial Synod submits the list so completed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for its approval. The list becomes definitive after its ratification by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is then officially published by the Archdiocese.
b. Immediately following a vacancy in the See of a Metropolis, but no later than forty (40) days thereafter, the Archbishop convenes the Eparchial Synod in a timely fashion, for the purpose of nominating, after soliciting the opinion of the members of the Archdiocesan Council, three persons, out of whom one shall be elected to fill the vacancy of the Metropolis. The nominees are taken from the above mentioned list of those eligible, pursuant to the procedure provided for by the Regulations of the Eparchial Synod.
c. The list of three nominees thus established is submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. According to the existing practice, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elects one of the three as the new Metropolitan.
d. A nominee for the office of Metropolitan shall be a person of deep faith and ethos, a Greek Orthodox Christian, a graduate of an academically recognized and accredited Orthodox school of theology of the highest level, have a fluent knowledge of spoken and written English and Greek, and have a proven ability in administration and pastoral work. In addition, the nominee must have all the pertinent qualifications defined by the Holy Canons, shall not be less than thirty-five (35) years of age, and shall have had a period of sufficient service in the Archdiocese.
e. Those fulfilling the above conditions are candidates and are included in the list of eligible candidates regardless of the place of residence during the time of the election.
Elections of Auxiliary Bishops
a. For the election of Auxiliary Bishops the same procedure shall be followed as for the election of Metropolitans (see Article 14).
b. Regulations regarding the Auxiliary Bishops shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and put into effect after its approval by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Assignment and Transfer of Clergy
a. The assignment and transfer of Clergy within the Archdiocesan District and each Metropolis is the exclusive right and privilege of the respective Hierarch.
b. The initial placement of a clergyman is made by the Archbishop in consultation with the Metropolitan in whose Metropolis the clergyman will be placed. The assignment will be made by the Archbishop or the Metropolitan in whose Archdiocesan District or Metropolis the clergyman will serve.
c. The transfer of clergy between Metropolises (or between the Archdiocesan District and a Metropolis) is the right of the Hierarchs involved who will effectuate all transfers according to the ecclesiastical regulations in force. All transfers and assignments shall be communicated to the Archdiocese for its information and use.
a. The membership of the Archdiocesan Council is comprised of the Archbishop as President, the Metropolitans and Auxiliary Bishops, and representatives of the clergy and laity from the Parishes of the Archdiocesan District and of each Metropolis.
b. The Archdiocesan Council is convened by the Archbishop and meets in regular session at least twice a year and in special session as often as is considered necessary.
c. Except for dogmatic and canonical matters, which are within the competence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Archdiocesan Council is concerned with matters and issues that affect the life, growth and unity of the Holy Archdiocese of America, and makes such decisions thereon as it deems necessary. The Archdiocesan Council functions as the advisory and consultative body to the Archbishop and to the Eparchial Synod.
d. The Archdiocesan Council is concerned with the Archdiocesan ministries, institutions, and financial affairs of the Holy Archdiocese of America. Together with the Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Council is concerned with the interpretation and implementation of the decisions of the Congress, as well as the Regulations adopted pursuant to this Charter on matters within its jurisdiction. The Archdiocesan Council has such duties and responsibilities as set forth herein, as well as those provided for under any Regulations pertaining to it in matters within its jurisdiction.
e. In the event that action becomes necessary between Congresses, the Archdiocesan Council shall exercise the authority of the Congress when so convened by the Archbishop and advised as to the purpose and necessity therefore.
f. Specific Regulations shall set forth the composition, functioning, jurisdiction, and convening of the Archdiocesan Council.
a. The Local Council of the Direct Archdiocesan District and of each Metropolis (“Local Council”) is the consultative and advisory body to its respective Hierarch. Except for dogmatic and canonical matters, it is concerned with matters and problems that affect the unity, life and growth of the corresponding ecclesiastical area, and is comprised of the respective Hierarch as chairman, and clergy and laity of his area as members.
b. The Local Council shall meet in regular session at least semi-annually and in special session as often as the local Hierarch deems necessary.
c. The Local Council is concerned with the ministries, institutions, programs, and financial affairs of the corresponding ecclesiastical area. It has the duties, responsibilities and competence designated to it and provided for under the Regulations pertaining to it.
d. Specific Regulations shall set forth the composition, functioning, jurisdiction, and convening of the Local Council.
a. The Archdiocese establishes and oversees educational institutions, both religious and cultural, which offer Catechetical training and Greek paideia, as may be necessary, such as the present Holy Cross School of Theology and Hellenic College.
b. The Archdiocese also establishes educational programs which may be necessary to serve its cultural, catechetical, educational and other needs.
c. The Archdiocese publishes such religious and educational materials as may be appropriate to the fulfillment of its mission.
d. Regulations hereafter promulgated shall provide for the establishment and functioning of all necessary educational institutions, as well as for the formation of related programs.
Ministries and Institutions
a. All major existing or future institutions of the Archdiocese shall be the property and responsibility of the Archdiocese (see Article 17, d), while those of a local nature shall be the respective property and responsibility of each local ecclesiastical administration (see Article 18, c).
b. The establishment of new institutions, including, but not limited to, educational, recreational, charitable, retirement homes and the like, as well as the dissolution of such institutions, requires prior approval of the Eparchial Synod and the consent of the Archdiocesan Council or the Local Council, as may be applicable.
c. The manner of operation of such institutions shall be pursuant to Regulations hereafter promulgated.
a. Monasteries and organized communities of monastics function according to the long established, canonical tradition and practice of the Church. As such, they are ecclesiastical institutions, functioning under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located.
b. Monasteries are founded by the local Hierarch, following approval of the Eparchial Synod. Canonically, their administration and financial affairs are the responsibility of the local Hierarch, whose name is to be commemorated during Divine Worship.
c. The Monasteries that operate in the United States of America continue the long established monastic life and witness. They function according to the prevailing Monastic Law and the letter and the spirit of the Regulations that define their operation.
d. Regulations for the establishment, organization and operation of Monasteries shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
a. All Regulations pertaining to the implementation of this Charter shall be in conformity with the Holy Canons, Sacred Tradition and long existing life and practice of the Holy Orthodox Church, as developed in the framework of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and in conformity with the letter and the spirit of this Charter.
b. Regulations for the implementation of this Charter shall be proposed, approved, and ratified as follows:
Regulations pertaining to the operations of the Eparchial Synod, the Spiritual Courts and the Monasteries shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Regulations pertaining to the composition of the Archdiocesan Council and the Local Councils shall be promulgated by the Congress.
Regulations pertaining to the functioning of these bodies shall be promulgated by the Archdiocesan Council.
All other Regulations, including those pertaining to the composition, the frequency of meetings and manner of functioning of the Congress, Assemblies, and Parishes of the entire Holy Archdiocese, shall be proposed by the Archdiocesan Council and promulgated by the Congress.
All regulations mentioned in the above paragraphs 2 and 3 and, in general, all Regulations pursuant to the present Charter shall be submitted by the Eparchial Synod, through its President, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for final review and approval. In the event that no response is received from the Ecumenical Patriarchate within ninety (90) days following the receipt of the Regulations by it, they shall be deemed approved.
c. Until the adoption and approval of Regulations under this Charter, all existing regulations shall continue in full force and effect. However, in the event of a conflict between this Charter and any such regulations, the provisions of this Charter shall prevail.
d. The present Charter and all Regulations adopted and approved pursuant to this Charter shall be published by the Archdiocese.
e. The Archdiocesan Council shall interpret all Regulations except those approved and ratified pursuant to the provisions of Articles 5, 9, and 21 hereof.
Language and Authentic Text
The languages of this Charter and any Regulations hereunder promulgated shall be English and Greek. The English text, as approved by the Patriarchate, shall be deemed the legal and governing text. In the event of need, this Charter shall be authoritatively interpreted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
This present Charter is granted to the Archdiocese of America by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is effective immediately.
The present Charter regulating the affairs of the Holy Archdiocese of America as an ecclesiastical institution, may be amended in its entirety or in part after a proposal of the Holy Eparchial Synod submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate following the appropriate procedure in the Archdiocesan Council and the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress, and after the approval of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to which the proposal has been submitted.
In the year of our Lord 2003, on the 18th day of the month of January,
The Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew declares
Chrysostom of Ephesus
Photios of Heracleia
Constantine of Derkon
Germanos of Theodoropolis
Theoklitos of Metra and Athyra
Cyril of Imvros and Tenedos
Iakovos of Pringhiponnison
Demetrios of Sebasteia
Irinaos of Myriophyton and Peristasis
Chrysostom of Myra
Apostolos of Moschonissia
Theoklitos of Iconium
This is a true copy given at the Patriarchate on the 18th day of January 2003
by the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod,
[seal of the Chief Secretariat] [signed] Meliton of Philadelphia.