Melkite Greek Catholic Church
His Beatitude Patriarhc Maximos V

Patriarch of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of the Holy Apostlesa

Born in 1908 at Tanta, Egypt, his Beatitude studied at St. Anne of Jerusalem. In 1930 he was ordained by Maximos IV Sayegh, who at that time was the Archbishop of Tyre. He ran the Patriarchal College in Cairo and founded the publication Le Lien. In Cairo on June 13th 1943 he was consecrated as Archbishop by Patriarch Cyril IX. During his years as Archbishop, our Patriarch established many churches, a home of the elderly, an orphanage, a seminary, and several schools. He was also instrumental in bringing several European groups into the Melkite Church. During the frightful years early years of the Palestinian exodus, he worked tirelessly on behalf of tens of thousands of refugees. Making no distinction between religions or Christian communities, Bishop Hakim personally sheltered two hundred refugee children.

On November 22, 1967 His Beatitude was elected Patriarch by the Holy Synod. A noted and prolific writer, His Beatitude is most known for his Arabic work Al Rabita, the French works, Message de Galiléerench, and Pages d'Évangilelues en Galilée.Among His Beatitude's concerns was the large Diaspora of his Melkite community for today most Melkites live outside of the territorial limits of the Patriarchate. During the year 2000 Patriarch Maximos became ill and was no longer was able to shoulder the heavy responsibilities of his office. At the age of 92 he asked an exceptional synod of the Melkite bishops to accept his resignation. On November 22nd the synod accepted the resignation of it's beloved father with the words, "Our Church owes you many memorable favors, which history will write in golden letters On its shining pages, and which your children will remember with great esteem and pride."

Melkite Patriarchs Since 1709

2000 - Date Gregory III

1967 - 2000 Maximos V Hakim

1947 -1967 Maximos IV Saïgh Strong voice at Vatican II for the Eastern Churches. Viewed the Melkites as a bridge between Orthodoxy and Rome.

1925 -1947 Cyrille IX Moghabghab

1919 -1925 Dimitrios I Cadi

1902 -1916 Cyrille Vl l l Geha

1898 -1902 Pierre IV Géraigiry

1864 -1897 Grégoire II Youssef-Sayour Opened patriarchal colleges of Beirut and Damascus, founded Seminary of St. Anne of Jerusalem. A voice for strengthened union at Vatican I and the Eucharistic Congress of Jerusalem. Assisted with the papal encyclical Oriental Dignit.

1856 -1864 Clément Bahous

1833 -1855 Maximos lIl Mazloum Worked on behalf of the Christians of Egypt., building churches, and providing a bishop. Obtained complete independence from the Turkish Sultan. Drafted the canonical legislation for the Melkite Church.

1816 -1833 Ignace V Cattan

1813 -1813 Athanase V Matar

1813 -1815 Macaire IV Tawil

1812 -1812 Ignace IV Sarrouf

1796 -1812 Agapios II Matar Founding of the seminary in Ain Traz.

1794 -1796 Cyrille Vll Siage

1788 -1794 Athanase IV Jawhar

1761 -1788 Théodose V Dahan

1760 -1761 Maximos II Hakim

1759 -1760 AthanaseIV Jawhar

1724 -1759 Cyrille Vl Thanas Completed the reunification of the Melkites with Rome. With the confirmation of the Antiochean Othodox Patriarch Sylvester by the Patriarche of Constantinople, Cyrille fees Damascus and takes refuge in Lebanon.

1724 - Athanasius III On the death of Patriarch Athanasius one branch of the patriarchate of Antioch aligned itself with Byzantium (Antiochean Orthodox) while the other branch (Melkite Catholic) formalized relations with Rome.

1709 - Patriarch Cyril V Formally recognizes the authority of the Pope.


Icon of Christ rising from the tomb surrounded by people

The Patriarch in Our Melkite Church

by Fr. Francis Marini

Reprinted from Sophia, Volume 31, Number 1, Jan. - Feb. 2001

Role of the Patriarch

Every Melkite faithful knows that the head of the Melkite Catholic Church is the Patriarch, at the present time Gregorios III (Laham). The role of the Patriarch is not always well understood when it comes to the situation of Melkites who are living outside the Middle East, the historical seat of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

According to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Patriarch is the "Father and Head" of the Melkite Church. As Patriarch, he enjoys full authority over all the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the Melkite Church according to the norm of the approved law. He represents in his person the entire Melkite Church and for all Melkites everywhere.

The authentic Eastern form of Church governance is synodal, that is, the Patriarch governs the Melkite Church together with the Synod or Assembly of Melkite Bishops. The Patriarch exercises executive power and the Synod of Bishops exercises legislative power, similar to the American civil government. That is the reason that all the Melkite Bishops throughout the world gather at Rabweh every year for the annual meeting of the Synod of Bishops. There, under the presidency of the Patriarch, all major decisions affecting the Melkite Church are discussed and enacted.

However, the present Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches distinguishes between the powers of the Patriarch and Synod of Bishops inside the patriarchal territory and outside of it; and it expressly states that their powers are exercised validly only inside the patriarchal territory, with certain limited exceptions. The basic reality is that all laws enacted by the Synod and promulgated by the Patriarch are effective inside the patriarchal territory, but for us Melkites in the United States, the only laws that are currently effective are liturgical laws.

The reason for this distinction is that, from the very earliest times, Patriarchal power or jurisdiction has been subject to a geographical limitation. This restriction, known as the Patriarchal Territory, refers to those regions in which the proper rite of the Church is observed and in which the Patriarch has the right to establish ecclesiastical provinces, eparchies and exarchies. Only the highest authority can change the Patriarchal Territory. The Patriarchal Territory of the Melkite Patriarch is Antioch, All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem.

The Patriarchal jurisdiction goes back to the very earliest times of the Church. This is clear from canon 6 of the very first Ecumenical Council held at Nicea in the year 325, which recognized the already-existing jurisdiction of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, all based on a relationship to the Apostle Peter of Bethsaida. This same canon was cited by the Second Vatican Council in its decision to restore the powers of the Eastern Patriarchs as existing in a special relationship to the Western Patriarchate of Rome. Throughout the first two millennia of Christianity, the Eastern Patriarchate and the concept or principle of territoriality evolved side-by-side in the Church. A similar evolution occurred in the territoriality principle. In the beginning, the concept was strict territoriality, however, it began to erode almost immediately.

The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) recognized the right of Catholic faithful of different rites to pastoral care in their own liturgical tradition and church hastened the formation of hierarchies for the various rites where faithful of different rites lived together. This in turn led directly to the practice of defining the jurisdiction of the hierarchy by the double standard of territory and rite, resulting in the application of a principle, not of strict, but of qualified territoriality as the norm. Thus, both territory and membership in a particular autonomous Church control in both the Latin and Eastern Churches, as is clear even with the Patriarchal Territories, since all of the Eastern Patriarchates overlap to some extent in the Middle East.

It is true that the authentic Eastern tradition requires a Patriarchal Territory, but it is certainly also true that there is nothing to prevent the expansion of the present Territory or the jurisdiction of the Patriarch and Synod of Bishops outside the Patriarchal Territory. The Melkite Patriarchal Territory was already extended in 1894 by Pope Leo XIII. Recent papal statements indicate that both expansion of the jurisdiction outside the territory and expansion of the territory itself are open possibilities. Thus, the idea of expanding the Patriarchal Territory to include all established eparchies wherever they may be is certainly viable.

It is necessary for the survival and growth of the Melkite Church to more fully implement the rich image of the Patriarch as "Father and Head" of our Melkite Church. At the present time, Melkite faithful living outside of the Middle East are more like step-children than children of the Patriarch. To remedy this situation requires the normalization of our relationship to our Father and Head , by preserving our authentic tradition while adapting to a changed and changing world.

(Fr. Francis Marini writes from Brooklyn, NY, where he resides and works)

Shopping Cart

Your shopping cart is empty
Visit the shop

Questions? © 1995-2021 Melkite Eparchy of Newton  ·  All Rights Reserved RSS Feed