Patriarch Youssef Absi
Coat of arms
elected June 21, 2017
|Headquarters||Dormition, Damascus, Syria|
|First holder||Cyril VI Tanas|
|Established||1724 (Current Form)|
|Cathedral||Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition|
|Bishops emeritus||Gregory III Laham|
The Melkite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch is the only actual residential Patriarchate of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic, Byzantine Rite). It was formed in 1724 when a portion of the Orthodox Church of Antioch went into communion with Rome, becoming an Eastern Catholic Church, while the rest of the ancient Patriarchate continues in full communion with the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch's present complete title is Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, incorporating both of the church's other titular patriarchates.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is one of five churches that are continuations of the original See of Antioch. Thus, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church traces its existence all the way back to Saint Peter in a line of apostolic succession acknowledged by both Catholic and Orthodox canons. This claim is accepted by the Holy See and is not disputed by the other two Eastern Catholic Churches that also claim descent from the ancient See of Antioch, namely the Maronite Church and the Syriac Catholic Church, which both also have Patriarchs of Antioch.
The Patriarch also holds the office of Metropolitan of an empty Ecclesiastical province without an actual suffragan see, actually comprising only his proper Metropolitan Archeparchy of Damascus (of the Melkites)/ Damasco (Curiate Italian) / Dima?q / A?-m / Damascen(us) Græcorum Melkitarum (Latin). Like the Patriarchate, in Rome it depends only upon the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
As per 2014, it pastorally served 3,000 Catholics in 8 parishes and 1 mission with 9 priests (6 diocesan, 3 religious), 3 deacons, 33 lay religious (3 brothers, 30 sisters) and 10 seminarians.
In continuation of the earlier Melkite patriarchates of those ancient sees, two titular patriarchates exist, which are however simply titles, vested in the residential Patriarch of Antioch, which also have Catholic residential counterparts:
During a vacancy in the Patriarchate (such as following the resignation of Gregory III Laham in 2017), the bishop of the permanent synod who is most senior by ordination serves as administrator in chief of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.