The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in world history. The ecumenical patriarchs in ancient times helped in the spread of Christianity, in the Middle Ages they played a major role in the affairs of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as in the politics of the Orthodox world, and in spreading Christianity among the Slavs. Within the five sees of the Pentarchy, the Ecumenical Patriarch is regarded as the successor of Andrew the Apostle. The current holder of the office is Bartholomew I, the 270th holder of the title, in his role as head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, he also holds the title Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome. The see of Byzantium, whose foundation was ascribed to Andrew the Apostle, was originally a common bishopric. It gained importance when Emperor Constantine elevated Byzantium to a second capital alongside Rome, the sees ecclesiastical status as the second of five Patriarchates were developed by the Ecumenical Councils of Constantinople in 381 and Chalcedon in 451. The Turkish government recognizes him as the leader of the Greek minority in Turkey. The Patriarch was subject to the authority of the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, today, according to Turkish law, he is subject to the authority of the state of Turkey and is required to be a citizen of Turkey to be Patriarch. The Patriarch of Constantinople has been dubbed the Ecumenical Patriarch since the 6th century, the monastic communities of Mount Athos are stauropegic and are directly under the jurisdiction of Ecumenical Patriarch, who is the only bishop with jurisdiction thereover. The Ecumenical Patriarch has a role among Orthodox bishops, though it is not without its controversy. He is primus inter pares, as he is senior among all Orthodox bishops and this primacy, expressed in canonical literature as presbeia, grants to the Ecumenical Patriarch the right to preside at pan-Orthodox synods. Additionally, the literature of the Orthodox Church grants to the Ecumenical Patriarch the right to hear appeals in cases of dispute between bishops. Historically, the Ecumenical Patriarch has heard such appeals and sometimes was invited to intervene in other disputes and difficulties. Even as early as the 4th century, Constantinople was instrumental in the deposition of multiple bishops outside its traditional jurisdiction. This still occurs today, as when in 2006 the patriarchate was invited to assist in declaring the archbishop of the Church of Cyprus incompetent due to his having Alzheimers disease. Additionally, in 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarchate convoked a synod to express the Orthodox worlds confirmation of the deposition of Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem. That is, his role is one of promoting and sustaining Church unity. Such a title is acceptable if it refers to this unique role, the five patriarchs of the ancient Pentarchy are to be given seniority of honour, but have no actual power over other bishops other than the power of the synod they are chairing
Emblem found atop the front entrance of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Throne room inside the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Gospel is enthroned on the dais; the Patriarch sits on the lower throne in front.