The Metropolitan enjoys primacy of honor among the bishops of The Orthodox Church in America. As Primate, he shows concern for the internal and external welfare of the entire Church. He is the president of the Holy Synod. He is the ruling archbishop of the ArchDiocese of Washington and bears the title “Metropolitan of All America and Canada.” The Metropolitan is commemorated by all bishops during liturgical services.
The following matters are included within the competence of the Metropolitan.
The Metropolitan shall:
- Uphold the unity of the bishops of the Church;
- Convene and preside over all regular and special sessions of the Holy Synod and all sessions of the Standing Synod;
- Supervise implementation of decisions of the Holy Synod;
- Appoint a Locum Tenens in the event of a vacancy in the office of a Diocesan Bishop;
- Initiate action to fill a vacancy in the office of Diocesan Bishop, confirm the election by the Holy Synod, and preside, or delegate another bishop to preside, at the enthronement;
- Preside, or delegate another bishop to preside, at the ordination of all bishops;
- Confirm the election by the Holy Synod of an auxiliary bishop;
- Give fraternal counsel to a brother bishop as necessary regarding his personal life or the exercise of his archpastoral ministry, and if the bishop disregards this counsel, the Metropolitan may submit the matter to the Holy Synod;
- Receive and, in consultation with the other members of the Holy Synod, act upon petitions of priests and deacons from other Orthodox Churches seeking acceptance into the ranks of the clergy of The Orthodox Church in America;
- Receive and, in consultation with the other members of the Holy Synod, act upon petitions of non-Orthodox clergy seeking reception into the ranks of the clergy of The Orthodox Church in America;
- Represent the Church in its relations with other Orthodox Churches, other religious bodies and organizations, and secular authorities;
- Commemorate the Primates of other autocephalous Churches in liturgical services;
- Consecrate and distribute Holy Chrism to the Diocesan Bishops;
- Provide Diocesan Bishops with Holy Relics necessary for the consecration of Church altars and Holy Antimensia;
- Maintain in conjunction with the Holy Synod and appropriate Officers of the Church the patrimony of the Office of the Metropolitan;
- Convene and preside over the All-American Council, report to it on the life of the Church, and promulgate its decisions;
- Convene and preside over meetings of the Metropolitan Council;
- Serve as president of the Church as a civil corporation;
- Nominate the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer, and any other officers of the Church for endorsement by the Metropolitan Council and subsequent confirmation by the Holy Synod;
- Supervise Church Officers and receive regular reports from them;
- Supervise and have pastoral care of stavropegial institutions;
- Supervise the ministry of military and institutional chaplaincies and act as the Church’s ecclesiastical endorser of chaplains;
- Issue pastoral letters addressed to bishops, clergy, monastics, and laity of the Church; and
- Exercise pastoral care with the right of initiative and pastoral intervention in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the Sacred Canons.
The Metropolitan possesses the authority necessary to exercise his primatial ministry within the Church in conformity with the Holy Canons.
Vacancy in Office
In the event of the Metropolitan’s death, retirement or resignation accepted by the Holy Synod, medically certified incapacity, or deposition by canonical process, the member of the Holy Synod senior by rank and date of episcopal ordination shall convene the Holy Synod in extraordinary session to declare the office of the Metropolitan vacant and proceed with the selection of a Locum Tenens. Within a period of three months, unless some unavoidable necessity forces a prolongment of this period, but not to exceed six months, the Locum Tenens shall convene an extraordinary All-American Council at which a new Metropolitan shall be elected. During a vacancy there shall be no innovations in matters affecting the basic structures and administration of the Church. The Chancellor shall safeguard the particular patrimony of the Office of the Metropolitan until a new Metropolitan is elected.
A nominee for the Office of Metropolitan must have at least three years of episcopal ministry in The Orthodox Church in America.
The election shall take place according to the following order:
- The All-American Council, without previous discussion of names, proposes nominees by secret ballot. An official paper ballot shall be distributed to each delegate of the Council present at that session.
- On the first vote, a single name shall be written on each ballot. If a name of a person is written on a number of ballots equal to or in excess of at least two-thirds of the total number of Voting Members in attendance at that session of the Council, this nominee shall be presented to the Holy Synod for canonical election. If the Holy Synod does not elect the nominee, a member of the Holy Synod shall formally state the reason for which the nominee was not elected.
- If no canonical election results from the first vote, a second vote shall be taken by the All-American Council. An official paper ballot shall be distributed to each delegate of the Council present at that session.
- On the second vote, two names shall be written on each ballot. The tellers shall not count any ballot on which fewer or more than two names are written. The names of the two nominees who receive the highest number of ballots on the second vote shall be submitted to the Holy Synod for canonical election of one of these nominees.
- With his acceptance of the canonical election by the Holy Synod, the new Metropolitan has full authority and prerogatives as Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of the All America and Canada, and he is immediately invested with the insignia of his Office.