The website Orthodox History has recently posted an important historical document, by the future Patriarch Christophoros II of Alexandria, which discusses his understanding of the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as the circumstances following the Greek defeat in Asia Minor that led it to exaggerate this role, particularly in the diaspora.
Such is thus the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate relative to the other patriarchates according to the holy canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is purely fraternal. The four patriarchs are equal in dignity, in no way is one inferior to another. Each of them moves and acts within his own sphere, having as the rule for his action to deviate in nothing from the dogmas of Orthodoxy and from the order established by the holy canons and holy traditions. And, if there arose a transgression either against dogma, against the holy canons, or against ecclesiastical discipline, all the patriarchs intervened together. In general ecclesiastical questions, the patriarchs acted together and only decisions taken in common had the force of law in the Church. Thus was the case in the quarrel between Pope Nicholas of Rome and the Patriarch Photius; the latter, in an encyclical, denounced the pope to the three other patriarchs. There was the same joint action on the part of the four patriarchs during the Council of Florence. Likewise, when the Church of Russia was established as a patriarchate and when the Bulgarians were declared to be schismatic, all the patriarchs considered it indispensable to gather and take a common decision.
Read the whole article here.