In the Eastern Catholic Churches, major archbishop is a title for the chief hierarch of an autonomous (sui juris) particular Church that has not been "endowed with the patriarchal title". Major archbishops generally have the same rights, privileges, and jurisdiction as Eastern Catholic patriarchs, except where expressly provided otherwise, and rank immediately after them in precedence of honor.
In addition to their role governing their particular Church, major archbishops, like Eastern Catholic patriarchs, are ex officio members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Roman Curia. They are required to attend the annual general meeting of this congregation, as well as other sessions if they are visiting Rome or are otherwise able.
|Major Archiepiscopal See||Archbishop||Election|
|Kiev-Galicia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church||Sviatoslav Shevchuk||2011|
|Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church||George Alencherry||2011|
|Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church||Baselios Cleemis||2007|
|Făgăraş and Alba Iulia of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church||Lucian Mureșan||2005|
There was a strong movement within and after the Second Vatican Council to elevate Josyf Slipyj, then metropolitan of Lviv, for the Ukrainians, to the status of patriarch. Many of his admirers use this title for Slipyj when referring to him historically and many in Ukraine use this title for the current major archbishop even today. However, Pope Paul VI specifically declined to grant this title, instead creating this new title and appointing Slipyj the first "major archbishop" of Lviv (the seat has since been moved to Kiev). Slipyj's successors have only used the title of major archbishop.
The title "major archbishop" was first granted to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1963. The Syro-Malabar Church became major archiepiscopal in 1992, followed by the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church in 2005.
Suggestions have been made at various times to elevate major archbishops to patriarchs, most notably the major archbishops of the Ukrainians and Syro-Malabars. Popes from Paul VI to Benedict XVI have rejected this suggestion, at least in part, on ecumenical grounds: it is the hope among Christians that these Catholic jurisdictions will one day be reunited with their Orthodox counterparts in a reunification of the Church; hence, establishing a "patriarchate" in Ukraine would be interpreted as an insult to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow (as it would seem to the legitimacy of his claim to that title). The same applies in India, where such a move would insult non Catholic Patriarchs in Middle East.
Comparison to other titles
Compared to other titles available to the heads of sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches, the title of "major archbishop" falls below "patriarch" and above "metropolitan archbishop". The title is used for archbishops of episcopal sees that were founded more recently than the patriarchal sees and are therefore less prestigious. Canon law generally treats major archbishops as equivalent to patriarchs, except where specifically provided otherwise. What differences there are between the two offices are mainly differences of ceremony or honor. Major archbishops rank immediately below patriarchs in the order of precedence of the Catholic Church. If made members of the College of Cardinals, major archbishops join the order of Cardinal-Priests, whereas Eastern Catholic patriarchs join the highest order as Cardinal-Bishops. Like patriarchs, major archbishops are elected by the synod of the sui iuris Church, but their election requires confirmation by the Pope, not the simple notification and request for communion required of patriarchs. On the other hand, metropolitan archbishops of Eastern Catholic Churches sui juris are appointed by the Pope (rather than elected by their synod) and have much less authority even within their own churches.
The title major archbishop in the Catholic Church is roughly equivalent to the patriarchal title catholicos in some Orthodox Churches. Catholicos is used internally by the Syro-Malankara Church for their major archbishop.
List of Major Archbishops
This section provides a complete list of every bishop who has held the title of major archbishop, organized according to the precedence of their titles, which follows the order in which their churches became major archiepiscopal. So far, every major archbishop has been a cardinal except for Cyril Baselios and Sviatoslav Shevchuk. Antony Padiyara and Lubomyr Husar are the only major archbishops to resign the office, rather than dying in it.
List of Major Archbishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
- Josyf Slipyj, Major Archbishop of Lviv, 23 December 1963 − 7 September 1984
- Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop of Lviv, 7 September 1984 − 14 December 2000
- Lubomyr Husar, 26 January 2001 − 10 February 2011
- as Major Archbishop of Lviv, 26 January 2001 − 29 August 2005
- as Major Archbishop of Kiev-Galicia, 29 August 2005 − 10 February 2011
- Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kiev-Galicia, 25 March 2011 − present
For a complete list of heads of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, including prior to its establishment as a major archiepiscopal church, see List of Leaders of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
List of Major Archbishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
- Antony Padiyara, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, 16 December 1992 − 11 November 1996
- Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, 23 December 1999 − 1 April 2011
- George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, 25 May 2011 − present
For a complete list of heads of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, including prior to its establishment as a major archiepiscopal church, see List of Major Archbishops of the Syro-Malabar Church.
List of Major Archbishops of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
- Cyril Baselios, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, 10 February 2005 − 18 January 2007
- Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, 10 February 2007 − present
For a complete list of heads of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, including prior to its establishment as a major archiepiscopal church, see List of Major Archbishops of Thiruvananthapuram.
List of Major Archbishops of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church
For a complete list of heads of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, including prior to its establishment as a major archiepiscopal church, see List of bishops of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia.
- Slipyj became Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv on 1 November 1944, but he was not elevated to the title of Major Archbishop until 1963.
- Because he had been appointed coadjutor to Slipyj, Lubachivsky succeeded directly to the major archiepiscopacy upon Slipyj's death.
- The see of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and with it the title of the Major Archbishop, was transferred from Lviv to Kiev in 2005. Hence Lubomyr Husar began his reign as Major Archbishop in Lviv and ended it in Kiev.
- Padiyara became Metropolitan Archbishop of Ernakulam on 23 April 1985, but he was not elevated to the title of Major Archbishop until 1992. The promotion of the see to a major archeparchy was simultaneous with a change of its name to Ernakulam-Angamaly.
- Baselios became Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum on 6 November 1995, but he was not elevated to the title of Major Archbishop until 2005.
- Mureșan became Metropolitan Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia on 4 July 1994, but he was not elevated to the title of Major Archbishop until 2005.
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 151
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 152, Canon 154
- Pope John Paul II (1998), Apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, Article 57
- Pope John Paul II (1998), Apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, Article 11.
- Major Archbishops, GCatholic.org, URL accessed April 19, 2006
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 152
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 154
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 153; cf. Canon 63 and Canon 76
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 155
- "Syro Malankara Church says it can use Catholicos title" Archived 2015-05-14 at the Wayback Machine., Indian Catholic News Service, July 21, 2005
- 1990 Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, Canon 154
- Nedungatt, George, ed. (2002). A Guide to the Eastern Code: A Commentary on the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. Rome: Oriental Institute Press.