Greek Orthodox Church Hierarchy

The Greek Orthodox Church is a part of the spiritual union of the fifteen separate hierarchical churches which are recognized as the Orthodox Christian Churches. There is no single head here unlike the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The Bishop is of the highest ranking but his rank is less of authority and more of honour and is characterized as “first among equals”.

So there are three main orders in the Orthodoxy Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons and the two minor orders are Subdeacon and Reader.

Greek Orthodox Church HierarchyThe Major Orders are Sub-Divided into:

Bishop

  • Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

He is the first in order among all Orthodox Bishops; he is often considered equal to an archbishop in multiple traditions and varies in honour. He is considered a special patriarch.

  • Patriarch

He is a bishop who heads the ethnic or ancient church.

  • Archbishop

He is the head of the capital city or the Orthodox country.

  • Metropolitan

He is the head of a large city or a diocese.

  • Bishop

He oversees a special community of Orthodox Christians or a diocese and possesses complete priesthood. He also proclaims clergy and is selected only from the monastic priests.

  • Titular Bishop

He is an assistant to a Bishop and is not in complete charge of a city.

Priest / Presbyter

  • Archimandrite

The monastic priests are awarded this title of honour. It was originally meant to be a supervisory abbot selected over and above others but recently is more of an honorary title. The archimandrites are only eligible to be assigned as Bishops.

  • Protopriest / Protopresbyter

This is a titular honour given only to the non-monastic priests and it means “first elder”.

  • Archpriest

This is again a title of honour given to the non-monastic priests and is placed over many parishes.

  • Hieromonk

He is a destined priest better known as a “priest monk”.

  • Presbyter / Priest

He is an elderly person, ordained and manages the sacraments.

Deacon

  • Protodeacon

Literally meaning “first servant” this is a titular honour awarded to non-monastic deacons.

  • Archdeacon

He is a senor deacon in a diocese and is in charge of serving the hierarchical services. Normally he is always with the bishop.

  • Hierodeacon

He is a deacon monk and who has been ordained as a deacon.

  • Deacon

He is an ordained servant and one who assists the priests to administer the sacraments.

The Minor Orders

A subdeacon aids the bishop or the priest in multiple ways but never with the administration of the sacraments. He is not ordained during Divine Liturgy but is allotted other roles like the Reader. The subdeacons can be married and are not enforced by the canon laws. It is totally upto them to maintain celibacy or not.

Ordained by the bishop a reader is asked to read in the religious services of the church and the Divine Liturgy. The role was developed in the earlier days when there was low literacy rates to promote learning.