Grigorios D. Papathomas

Conciliar Primacy and synodic «Protos» in the Church. Civil religion and ecclesial pluralism, imperial centralism and ecclesiastical polycentrism

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Within the Church Tradition, the word «Protos» was originally attributed to the Pope and Patriarch of Rome and, after the schism, to the Patriarch of Constantinople. There is a radical difference between «Protos» and «Arche», which also defines a kind of authority among the Church. The latter comes from the Greek word «Archon» that means the ruler, someone who owns his place and, by extension, is the unique and exclusive master of a local Church. On the other hand, the word «Protos» implies someone who stands among other equals (primus inter pares) and who necessarily posses the same degree and qualification. The «Protos» shares his ministry price in all levels of Church-Canonical Primacy and within the Conciliar communion of Primates without ever placing himself above them. When someone is the sole ruler of a Local Church, he is an «Arche». When we attempt to give this authority to «Protos», we overthrow Ecclesiology, Conciliarity and the whole hypostatic construction of the Church.


  • Proto
  • Primacy
  • Synodality and Conciliarity
  • Ecclesial Poly-Centrism
  • Civic/Civil Religion


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