The Ecumenical Patriarchate is considered first among equals of all the Orthodox churches and presides over 200 million Christians. The ecumenical mission of the patriarchate is seriously contested by the official stance of the Turkish government and by ultranationalists who fear that the patriarchate might gain extraterritorial privileges and become a Vatican. At present, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is an institution with a global reach, but one that lacks a legal personality. The essay presents the two contrasting perspectives regarding the ecumenical status of the patriarchate and documents how the sources of the patriarchate's soft power marshal support in favor of its ecumenical mission.

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