Skip to content. Skip to navigation
Personal tools
Sections

Official Documents sent to all parishes regarding the proposed Charter Revision

Document Actions

ARTICLE I

Preamble
The Holy Archdiocese of North and South America, being by law a religious corporation under the name "Greek Orthodox Arch diocese of North and South America," is a province within the territorial jurisdiction of the most Holy Apostolic and Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople which is the first-ranking see of the body of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church whose head is Christ. The Archdiocese is governed by the holy canons, the present charter and the regulations promulgated by it and as to canonical and ecclesiastical matters not provided therein, by the decisions thereon of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Archdiocese of North and South America serves all of the Orthodox living in the western hemisphere.

ARTICLE II

Purpose
The purpose of the Archdiocese is to administer the life of the church in the Americas according to the Eastern Orthodox faith and tradition, sanctifying the faithful through the divine liturgy and the holy sacraments and edifying the religious and ethical life of the faithful in accordance with the holy scriptures, the decrees and canons of the holy apostles and the seven ecumenical councils of the Ancient Undivided Church, as interpreted by the practice of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. As to its ecumenical activities, both inter-christian and inter religious, the Archdiocese shall follow the position and guidelines established by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE III

Jurisdiction
The Archdiocese of North and South America is by canonical and historical right under the supreme spiritual, ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE IV

Organization
The Archdiocese is comprised of dioceses, the number, diocesan sees and boundaries of which are designated by the Archdiocesan Council subject to approval and ratification by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Archdiocese shall be located in New York City and at the outset shall be comprised of nine dioceses, seven in the United States, one in Canada and one in South America.
The present dioceses are as follows: Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Denver, Toronto and Buenos Aires.
The Archdiocese of North and South America also embraces within its spiritual aegis and administration other Orthodox groups, parishes and dioceses that have voluntarily submitted to its jurisdiction subject to the approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which exercises canonically and historically ecclesiastical authority and jurisdiction over the Orthodox in the diaspora.

ARTICLE V

Administration of the Archdiocese
The Archbishop presides over and administers the Archdiocese, exercising the said highest ecclesiastical authority with the Synod of Bishops and is responsible therefor to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE VI

The Synod of Bishops
The Archbishop and the bishops constitute the Synod of Bishops of the Archdiocese of North and South America. The Archbishop convenes and presides over the Synod of Bishops according to the holy canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church at least twice annually, before Easter and in the autumn and specially whenever the Archbishop deems it necessary or the Ecumenical Patriarchate requests. The Archbishop determines the place of such meetings.
The Synod of Bishops has all the authority and responsibility which the holy canons prescribe to the provincial synod, as modified herein by this charter. It is furthermore responsible to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the firm observance and preservation of the divine doctrines and holy canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

ARTICLE VII

Rights and Responsibilities of the Archbishop
The Archbishop, in his capacity as Archbishop and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is charged as follows:
1. To be responsible to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the proper and effective administration and activity of the Archdiocese of North and South America.
2. To oversee and coordinate with the Synod of Bishops and the Archdiocesan Council the preservation and promotion of the unity of the Archdiocese and is responsible therefor to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
3. To exercise and perform all the rights and duties of an archbishop in accordance with the holy canons.
4. To submit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate an annual report as to the state of the Archdiocese.
5. To oversee the activities of the bishops and assist and cooperate with them in the implementation of their common programs through which the unity of the Archdiocese may be preserved.
6. To consecrate and enthrone bishops in their sees.
7. To bear with the Synod of Bishops the responsibility for the administration, maintenance and growth of the Archdiocesan institutions.
8. To preside over Pan-Orthodox committees and councils and to represent the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate when so directed before ecclesiastical and civil authorities.
9. To preside over the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress and the various boards and commissions of the Archdiocese.
10. To cultivate and strengthen the bond of unity between the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE VIII

Rights and Responsibilities of the Bishops
After enthronement, each bishop in his diocese has the rights and responsibilities of a bishop in accordance with the holy canons and ancient practice of the church, as modified herein by this charter. Among the rights and responsibilities of a bishop are to consecrate and sanctify for worship churches and houses of prayer, administer his diocese in an orderly and harmonious manner, convene and preside over the Spiritual Court of First Instance in his diocese, issue permits for the performance of the sacrament of marriage and decrees of divorce on marriages that are validly dissolved, distribute to the priests the myron of holy chrism which is received by the Archbishop from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ordain deacons and priests in his diocese, after they are approved by the Synod of Bishops to which each candidacy is submitted and in the interim, between meetings of the Synod of Bishops, with the approval of the Archbishop to whom the responsibility is delegated.

ARTICLE IX

Order of Commemoration
During sacraments and ceremonies, priests and deacons commemorate the Archbishop and their bishop, the bishops commemorate the Archbishop, and the Archbishop commemorates the Ecumenical Patriarch.

ARTICLE X

Spiritual Courts
A Spiritual Court of First Instance functions within each diocese. It is comprised of clerical members selected by the bishop, who presides over it and hears cases involving family problems, divorce, as well as moral and disciplinary offenses of clerics and laity.
The Spiritual Court of Appeals is comprised of the Archbishop, who presides over it, the members of the Synod of Bishops and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese as secretary. It is convened twice annually when the Synod of Bishops meets and hears all appeals from decisions of the Spiritual Courts of First Instance. The operating procedures of the spiritual courts will be formulated by regulations hereinafter promulgated.
Matters involving bishops will be judged and determined by the Synod of Bishops convening in such instances as a spiritual court in accordance with the provisions herein.

ARTICLE XI

Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress
The Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress is convened biennially and presided over by the Archbishop. It is concerned with all matters, other than doctrinal or canonical, which affect the life of the church including its unity, uniform administration, education and financial programs.
The decisions of the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress are submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval and ratification. Following their approval, the decisions must be faithfully adhered to by all parishes regardless of whether or not they were represented at the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress at which they were adopted.

ARTICLE XII

Diocesan Clergy-Laity Assembly
Each diocese shall have a Diocesan Clergy-Laity Assembly convened annually, presided over by its bishop and comprised of the priests and the presidents, or their representatives, of the parishes of the diocese.
The Diocesan Clergy-Laity Assembly is concerned with matters involving the better organization and productivity of parish activities
in accordance with existing church practices.
Regulations hereinafter promulgated shall set forth its manner of operation.

ARTICLE XIII

Election of the Archbishop
The election of the Archbishop is the exclusive privilege and right of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Synod of Bishops and the Archdiocesan Council have an advisory voice concerning the person of the Archbishop to be so elected. The Archbishop must be a Greek Orthodox Christian, be a graduate of a recognized Orthodox school of theology, have a fluent knowledge of English, be a cleric of deep faith, have proven ability in administration, be fully aware of ecclesiastical affairs in the United States and be totally committed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE XIV

Election of Bishops
Bishops shall be chosen from the list of celibate candidates for the episcopal office of the Archdiocese of North and South America. The election thereof is the exclusive privilege and right of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Synod of Bishops in consultation with the Archdiocesan Council shall nominate three candidates. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will elect one of them.
Candidates must be graduates of an Orthodox school of theology, must have a fluent knowledge of the English language and the spoken language of the lands to which they will be assigned, have had a period of service of more than five years in the Archdiocese of North and South America and shall not be less than 35 nor more than 55 years of age.

ARTICLE XV

Archdiocesan Council
The Archdiocesan Council is comprised of the Archbishop as president, the bishops, and the clergy and laity from each diocese selected in accordance with regulations hereinafter promulgated. The Archdiocesan Council is convened by the Archbishop and meets as often as necessary but at least semiannually. It is concerned with matters and problems that affect the life and growth of the church and takes such decisions thereon as are required.
In the event that legislation becomes necessary between Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congresses, the Archdiocesan Council shall exercise such interim legislative authority when so convened by the Archbishop and advised as to the necessity therefor.
Regulations hereinafter promulgated shall set forth its manner of operation.

ARTICLE XVI

Diocesan Council
The Diocesan Council is comprised of the bishop as president and clergy and laity selected in accordance with the regulations hereinafter promulgated.
It meets at least annually and in special session as often as the bishop deems necessary. The Diocesan Council is a consultative and advisory body to the bishop.
Regulations hereinafter promulgated shall set forth its manner of operation.

ARTICLE XVII

Hierarchical Vacancies
In the event of a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the bishop first in order of seniority of consecration becomes temporary locum tenens until the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate designates a locum tenens.
In the event a diocesan see becomes vacant, the Archbishop designates the locum tenens who serves until his successor has been elected.

ARTICLE XVIII

Education
The Archdiocese shall establish and administer such educational institutions as may be necessary, including afternoon and day parish schools, schools such as the present St. Basil's Academy and colleges and seminaries such as the present Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology.
The Archdiocese shall publish educational, religious and spiritual materials to fulfill the needs of the Orthodox faithful.

ARTICLE XIX

Institutions
The existing Archdiocesan institutions and any to be established in the future are the concern and responsibility of the Archdiocese. The establishment of new institutions requires the approval of the Synod of Bishops and the Archdiocesan Council.

ARTICLE XX

Assignment and Transfer of Priests
The assignment and transfer of priests and deacons within each diocese is the right of the local bishop. As to transfers between dioceses, the Synod of Bishops shall have the responsibility, except that between meetings of the Synod of Bishops, the Archbishop shall have the right after consultation with the two bishops involved.

ARTICLE XXI

Regulations
Regulations as required to implement this charter and govern the Archdiocese shall be proposed by the Archbishop and presented to the Archdiocesan Council which shall consider, adopt, and present them to the next Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress for approval The said regulations, which must be in conformity with the charter herein, shall then be presented to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval and ratification.

ARTICLE XXII

Language of the Charter
The languages of this charter and any regulations hereunder promulgated shall be Greek and English. In the event of a need for interpretation, the English text shall be deemed the official and legal text.

ARTICLE XXIII

Implementation
This charter was prepared by the Archdiocesan Council under its interim legislative authority between Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congresses. It was submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate which has studied, modified it, and granted it in its present form to the Archdiocese. It becomes fully operative three months after the granting thereof by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

ARTICLE XXIV

Revision
The charter herein may be revised upon the request of the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress as the need therefor arises. Revisions thereto shall be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval and ratification.