The seat of the patriarchate was formerly
Antioch, in what is now
Turkey. However, in the 14th century, it was moved to
Syria, following the
Ottoman invasion of Antioch. Its traditional territory includes
Kuwait, Arab countries of the
Persian Gulf and also parts of
Turkey. Its territory formerly included the
Church of Cyprus until the latter became
autocephalous in 431. Both the Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Cyprus are members of the
Middle East Council of Churches.
North American branch is autonomous, although the Holy Synod of Antioch still appoints its head bishop, chosen from a list of three candidates nominated in the North American archdiocese. Its
Australasia and Oceania branch is the largest in terms of geographic area due to the relatively large size of Australia and the large portion of the
Pacific Ocean that the Archdiocese covers.
The head of the Orthodox Church of Antioch is called
Patriarch. The present Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch is
John X Yazigi, who presided over Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (2008–2013). He was elected as primate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All The East as
John X of Antioch (Yazigi) on December 17, 2012. He succeeded
Ignatius IV who had died on December 5, 2012. Membership statistics are not available, but may be as high as 1,100,000 in Syria and 400,000 in Lebanon. The seat of the Patriarch in Damascus is the
Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is one of several churches that lays claim to be the canonical incumbent of the
ancient see of St. Peter and St. Paul in Antioch. The
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch makes the same claim, as do the
Syriac Catholic Church, the
Maronite Church, and the
Melkite Greek Catholic Church, all of them
Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the
Holy See. These three, however, mutually recognize each other as holding authentic patriarchates, being part of the same Catholic communion. The
Roman Catholic Church also appointed titular
Latin Rite patriarchs for many centuries, until the office was left vacant in 1953 and abolished in 1964 and all claims renounced.