Today in the Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite, we begin the third chapter on “Eastern Rite Patriarchs.”
Article 7 gives us a clear definition of exactly what an Eastern Rite Patriarch is:
By the name Eastern patriarch, is meant the bishop to whom belongs jurisdiction over all bishops, not excepting metropolitans, clergy and people of his own territory or rite, in accordance with canon law and without prejudice to the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.
Article 8 clarifies that all Eastern Patriarch are of equal dignity regardless of when they arose in history, but goes on to add that this does not eliminate the “legitimately established precedence of honor.”
Here are the footnotes:
(8) Cfr. Synodum Nicaenam I, can. 6; Constantinopolitanam I, can. 2 et 3; Chalcedonensem, can. 28; can. 9; Constantinopolitanam IV can. 17; can. 21; Lateranensem IV can. 5; can. 30; Florentinam, Decr. pro. Graecis; etc.
(9) Gfr. Synodum Nicaenam I, can. 6, Constantinopolitanam I, can. 3; Constantinopolitanam IV, can. 17, Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, can. 216; 2, 1 .
(10) In Synodis Oecumenicis: Nicaena I, can. 6; Constantinopolitana I, can. 3; Constantinopolitana IV, can. 21; Lateranensi IV, can. 5; Florentina, decr. pro Graecis, 6 iul. 1439, 9. Cfr. Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 219, etc.