Rome, Patriarchate of
ROME, PATRIARCHATE OF
The division of the fourth-century Church into pa triarchates for ecclesiastical government was the result of comparable divisions of the Roman Empire. The organization of individual patriarchates was subject to many local and historical factors, which accounts for the many differences among the patriarchates of Rome, con stantinople, alexandria, antioch, and jerusalem.
The pope is the patriarch of Rome, or patriarch of the West as he is sometimes called, while at the same time holding other offices. He is the bishop of Rome and rules the See of Rome just as any other bishop rules his diocese. He is also the metropolitan who presides over the ecclesiastical Province of rome and is primate of the bishops of Italy while exercising primacy and fullness of jurisdiction over the universal Church as pope.
Division of the Empire. The lines for the future patriarchate of Rome were first drawn by Emperor Diocletian in 293 when he divided the Roman Empire into four prefectures: Gaul, Italy, Illyricum, and the Orient. After the death of Emperor Theodosius (395), a definitive division of the Empire into the Occident and the Orient was made. The Prefectures of Gaul and Italy constituted the Occidental Empire. Gaul was made up of three dioceses (a term originally used for civil administration): Spain, with seven provinces; Gaul, with seventeen; and Britain, with five. Italy was also made up of three dioceses: Africa, with seven provinces; Illyricum (Occidental), with seven; and Italy, with seventeen. In the Diocese of Italy there were seven provinces of the north dependent on the vicarius of Italy; the other ten were administered by the vicarius of Rome. This jurisdiction was divided and administered by the prefect of the city of Rome and the prefect of the suburban areas.
The ecclesiastical divisions coincided with the civil administrative divisions, thus, the pope of Rome enjoyed a gradually increased jurisdiction over the above-described area. The Council of Nicaea (325) gave the first hint of any ecclesiastical jurisdictional provinces in canon 6: "The ancient custom is to be observed throughout Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis wherein the bishop of Alexandria has power over all of these areas since he exercises a similar power as that exercised by the bishop of the city of Rome" (J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio [Florence-Venice 1757–98] 2:670). Thus the extent, at least, of the pope's jurisdiction in his ecclesiastical area can be known from the civil division of administration.
As to the nature of the jurisdiction exercised, historical documents are not clear. The pope did not consecrate the bishops for Gaul, Spain, and Africa; neither did he call the synods for these churches. Latin Africa seemed to be highly centralized in Carthage, whereas Spain and Gaul gave no indication of any consistent centralization under the bishop of Rome. There are indications that the pope intervened occasionally (such as in the cases of Marcian of Arles and of two bishops in Spain, Merida, and Astorga), but the centralization of the well-defined future Roman patriarchate is not observable.
Under Pope St. Leo the Great in the fifth century, the Church of Rome made strides toward centralization. Emperor Valentinian III confirmed the pope's right to force bishops of all of the Italian provinces to appear before his tribunal. The greatest advance in papal centralization resulted from the expanding missionary activity emanating from Rome to Germany, the Frankish Empire, and England.
Legislation. Emperor Justinian (d. 565) codified in his civil and ecclesiastical laws the five chief patriarchates as the primary units of ecclesiastical administration: "We decree therefore the most blessed archbishops and patriarchs, that is, of more venerable Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem… "(Corpusiuris civilis, Novellae [Berlin] 126). In Corpus iuris civilis, Novellae 131 he fixed the order of precedence: "The most holy Pope of ancient Rome, the first priest of all; the most blessed archbishop of Constantinople of New Rome has the second place." Thus, with Justinian's laws the Patriarchate of Rome and the four Oriental patriarchates became an officially recognized ecclesiastical organization with dignities, rights, duties, and areas of jurisdiction defined by law. It must be kept in mind, however, that the actual exercise of these jurisdictional rights within a given province varied because of factors peculiar to a given patriarchate.
The pope exercises his patriarchal jurisdiction over all of Western Europe, Africa west of Egypt, all other "diaspora" lands evangelized by missionaries from Europe—such as North and South America, Australia, and the major portion of India—and the Latin Christians in the Near and Far East of the Roman rite. He may call a patriarchal synod or simply choose by written decree to enact laws of discipline and liturgical usages applicable for the Roman or Western patriarchate only.
Bibliography: p. batiffol, La Paix constantinienne et le catholicisme (2d ed. Paris 1914); Le Siège apostolique, 359–451 (Paris 1924). l duchesne, Histoire ancienne de l'Église, 3 v. (Paris 1906–10), v.1. h. burn-murdoch, The Development of the Papacy (New York 1954). c. j. von hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux, tr. and continued by h. leclercq (Paris 1907–38) v.1. f. maassen, Der Primat des Bischofs von Rom und die alten Patriarchalkirchen (Bonn 1853). y.m.j. congar, "Le Pape comme patriarche d'Occident: approche d'une réalité trop négligée," Istina 28 (1983) 374–390.
[g. a. maloney/eds.]