Autocephali

Autocephali (αὐτοκέφαλοι), a term applied, in the Greek Church, to bishops not subject to patriarchal jurisdiction. Such were, in the Greek Church, the Archbishop of Bulgaria and some other metropolitans, I who claimed to be independent of the see of Constantinople; in the Church of Antioch, the Archbishop of Salamis, in Cyprus; and among the Latins, the Archbishop of Ravenna, who denied all dependence on the popes. Such also was the ancient liberty of the British Church, of which the remaining seven bishops, in the time of St. Augustine, acknowledged no superior but the Archbishop of Caerleon (Spelman, Con. Brit. A.D. 601). Originally all metropolitans were independent of any patriarch or exarch, ordering the affairs of their own province with their provincial bishops, and accountable to no superior but a synod; but in process of time the bishops of the great cities of the empire arrogated to themselves rights over the provinces of their dioceses, such as that of ordaining metropolitans, convoking the synod of the diocese, and of inspection over all the provinces in their obediences. Such were the rights of the Bishop of Rome over the diocese of the vicariate of Rome, or the suburbicarian churches (6th can. of Nicaea), and those of the see of Alexandria over Egypt, Libya, and the Thebaid. Besides these autocephali, those bishops who were subject to no metropolitan, but were immediately dependent on the patriarch, who was to them instead of a metropolitan, were so styled. In the diocese of Constantinople there were thirty-nine, or, as some accounts have it, forty-two such bishops; in that of Antioch, sixteen; in that of Jerusalem, twenty-five. The earliest mention of such bishops is in the Notitia of the Emperor Leo in the ninth century. — Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 2, ch. 29, § 1, 2, 3; Landon, Eccl. Dict. s.v.

 
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