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Patriarch of Constantinople

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The Patriarch of Constantinople is today head of the Armenian Apostolic Christians of Turkey and Crete. The Patriarchate has exerted a very significant political role and today still exercises a spiritual authority which earns him considerable respect among Orthodox churches. Despite a huge diminution in the number of its faithful, the patriarchate is still the largest Christian community in Turkey. He is under the soverignty of His Holiness, the Catholicos of All Armenians.

Like the Greek Patriarchate, the Armenians suffered severely from intervention by the state in their internal affairs. Although there have been 115 pontificates since 1461, there have only been 84 individual Patriarchs. Patriarch Karapet II of Constantinople served five separate pontificates (1676-1679, 1680-1681, 1681-1684, 1686-1687 and 1688-1689). In 1896 Patriarch Matteos III Izmirlian of Constantinople was deposed and exiled to Jerusalem by Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II for boldly denouncing the 1896 massacre and was only permitted to return in 1908 when the Sultan himself was deposed. The national Constitution granted to Armenians (Sahmanadrootiun) by Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz in 1861, which had been abrogated for nearly twenty years, was also restored.

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