What’s With All These Titles?

A monastic, a monk or a nun (almost never “brother” or “sister”), may be called Father or Mother. On top of that, some monks may be priests (hieromonks or priest-monks) or deacons (hierodeacons). All monastics are committed to celibacy.

A reader actually chants the first reading and certain other parts of the Liturgy, may have other duties in the Church, and may be male or female, married or single.

A sub-deacon assists a priest or bishop during Liturgy, and may have other duties in the Church. May be married or single.

A deacon, who assists a priest or bishop during Liturgy and may have other duties in the Church, may be called Father Deacon. Some deacons who’ve been honored by their Church may be titled Archdeacon or Protodeacon. May marry before ordination.

A priest or presbyter, delegated by the bishop to serve Liturgy and administer a parish or perform other duties in the Church, is called Father. Some priests who’ve been honored by the Church may be titled Archpriest or Protopresbyter. May marry before ordination.

Presbytera, Matushka, Khouria, Preotasa, etc., are titles for a priest’s wife or widow, and vary according to the cultural background of the local Church, whether Greek, Russian, Arab, Romanian, etc.

In some Churches the pastor of a parish is called its rector.

Hierarch generally denotes a bishop. A hieromartyr is a martyred bishop.

Generally speaking, a bishop rules a diocese. Must be monastic, single, or widowed. In Greek Churches, Bishop So-and-So’s diocese is honorary, and he serves as an auxiliary bishop to a Metropolitan, Archbishop, or Patriarch. Non-Greek Churches also have auxiliary bishops, but also title the ruling hierarch of most actual local dioceses Bishop.

In Greek Churches a Metropolitan is the ruling hierarch of a diocese, and an Archbishop is the chief bishop of a cluster of dioceses or of a national Church.

In Slavic Churches generally, Archbishop is an honorary promotion for a bishop. In Russia, Metropolitan is too; elsewhere, he is the chief bishop of a cluster of dioceses or of a national Church.

Some national or multinational Churches’ chief bishop is called a Patriarch. Ecumenical Patriarch is the honorific title of the Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul). The chief bishop of Caucasian Georgia is called Catholicos-Patriarch because his office evolved out of an ancient office of Catholicos, a chief bishop of a region.

Some Greek priests are titled proistamenos or economos. Don’t ask me why!

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