Eastern Orthodox Church
The Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church of the East (officially known as the "Eastern Orthodox Church" which is actually a misnomer) is the second largest Christian Church or type of Christianity in the world, a title it surprisingly shares with thr Communion of the Church of the East. It has no head but rather comprises over a dozen autophagous organizations who are "in communion" (i.e. they agree on all points of doctrine, and baptism in one conveys the right to take communion with any of the others). The division between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches goes back to the so-called Great Schism of the XIth century, but efforts to repair the breach are ongoing.
The different Orthodox Churches include:
- Ecumenical Patriachate of Konstantinpolis considered the "First Among Equals" (includes all of Greece, Italy, Turkey and parts of Armenian, Albania, Ukraine, and Aragon).
- Jerusalem (Patriarch of Jerusalem, mostly just relegated to Judea and the Church of Britannia)
- Alexandrian (Patriarch of Alexandria and Cairo, includes all of Africa)
- Antiochian (Patriarch of Antioch, found mostly in Syria & Lebanon)
- Lithuanian Orthodox Church (Patriarch of Vilnius, includes all the territory of the Republic of the Two Crowns and parts of Africa
- Russian (Patriarch of Moscow) (Russia, Nassland, Finland, Turkestan, Uyghurstan, Moghul National Realm, and Tibet)
- Romanian which includes Moldova, Muntenia, Oltenia and Transylvania (Patriarch of Bucureşti)
- Serbian, Patriarch of Kraljevo, based in the monastery of Žiča (includes the territories of Dalmatia, Croatia
- Georgian Orthodox Church (Patriarch of Tbilisi and all Georgia and Albania)
- American Orthodox Church (Metropolitan of Chicago) Not all churches acknowledge this Church's status, although its doctrinal status remains unchallenged
- Church of Cyprus (Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus)
- Orthodox Church of Hungary and the Moravian Lands (Archbishop of Budapest)
- Orthodox Church of China (Patriarch of Xinjing, includes most of the former Chinese Empire sans Uyghurstan and Tibet and much of SE Asia)
- Orthodox Church of Japan (Patriarch of Quiòto, includes all of the regions of the Japanese Empire and the East Asian Federation, plus the condominium of Meidji-dò, Henua, Kanawiki, and much of the Pacific States)
- Ukraine also has its own Orthodox Church; whether it is autonomous or autocephalous has yet to be determined
|This article is source material|
The Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest single Christian communion in the world. It is the very same Church established by Christ and his Apostles. It is composed of numerous theologically unified autocephalous which are ecclesial bodies each shepherded by a synod of independent bishops whose duty is to preserve the beliefs and practices (Traditions) of the Church. All Orthodox Christian bishops can trace their lineage back to one of the twelve Apostles through the process of apostolic succession.
The Orthodox Church is:
- The authentic and original Christian Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles.
- The preserver of the teachings and traditions given to the early Christians by the Apostles nearly 2000 years ago; and the developer of conciliar interpretations which expand and illuminate the original teachings.
- The preserver of Truth which compares all newer theological ideas to the already established beliefs and practices of the Church; accepting ideas that clarify and correctly teach, while rejecting ideas that are theologically incompatible with the original teachings.
- The preserver and compiler of the New Testament whose texts were written to members of the Church in ancient times and expressed an already established doctrine.
Members of the Eastern Orthodox Church usually refer to themselves as simply Orthodox Christian. Eastern is a term often applied in the Far-Western World for the sake of clarity. Traditionally the Orthodox refer to themselves as Catholic. Members of the Orthodox Church consider themselves members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Assyrian Church, the Coptic Church, and what is today referred to in the Western World as the Roman Catholic Church are also the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. As the Orthodox see it the Assyrians and Copts broke from the church after the first few centuries and the Roman Catholics in 1054. Since then the Eastern Church has referred to itself as Orthodox (Correct Believing). However in Greek, the Greek Orthodox followers call themselves "Catholic" or "Greek Catholic". National pride has lead many local congregations to adopt national epithets such as Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox, but theologically and spiritually there is believed to be only One Church, the Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church considers Jesus Christ to be the head of the Church and the Church to be His body. It is believed that authority and the Grace of God is directly passed down to Orthodox bishops and clergy through the laying on of hands—a practice started by the apostles, and that this unbroken historical and physical link is an essential element of the true church (Acts 8:17, 1 Tim 4:14, Heb 6:2). Each bishop has a territory (see) over which he governs. His main duty is to make sure the traditions and practices of the Church remain inviolate. Bishops are equal in authority and cannot interfere in each others' territory. Administratively, these bishops and their territories are organized into various autocephalous groups or synods of bishops who gather together at least twice a year to discuss the state of affairs within their respective sees. While bishops and their autocephalous synods have the ability to administer guidance in individual cases, their actions do not usually set precedents that affect the entire church. There have been, however, a number of times when heretical ideas arose to challenge the Orthodox faith and it was necessary to convene a general or "Great" council of all available bishops. The Church considers the first seven councils (held between the 4th and the 8th century) to be the most important; however, there have been more, specifically the Synods of Constantinople, 879–880, 1341, 1347, 1351, 1583, 1819, and 1872, the Synod of Iaşi (Jassy), 1642, and the Pan-Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem, 1672, all of which helped to define the Orthodox position. These councils did not create the doctrines of the church but rather compared the new ideas to the traditional beliefs of the Church. Ideas that were not supported by the traditions of the church were deemed heresy and expunged from the church. The ecumenical councils followed a democratic form with each bishop having one vote. Though present and allowed to speak before the council, members of the Imperial Roman/Byzantine court, abbots, priests, monks and laymen were not allowed to vote. The bishop of the old Roman capital, the Pope of Rome, though not present at all of the councils, was considered to be president of the council and thus called “First Among Equals” until the great schism of 1054. One of the decisions made by the second council and supported by later councils was that the Patriarch of Constantinople, since Constantinople was the New Rome, should be given the honor of second in rank. Later, because of the split with Rome, the honor of presiding over these general councils was transferred to the Patriarch of Constantinople who was also given the title, "First Among Equals", reflecting both his administrative leadership and his spiritual equality. He is not, however, considered to be the head or leader of the church.
Nowadays, there are 14 (15 by some) autocephalous Orthodox churches, in full communion with each other, with the precise order of seniority of their heads as listed below. Some of them contain autonomous (marked below) and/or semi-autonomous dioceses (listed within the mother churches). The first nine of the autocephalous churches are led by patriarchs.
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Patriarchate of Alexandria
- African Orthodox groups in the African Continent
Patriarchate of Antioch
Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- Church of Mount Sinai (autonomous)
Russian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Moscow and of all Russia)
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (de-facto autonomous)
- Metropolis of Western Europe (proposed, but not instituted)
- Japanese Orthodox Church (autonomy not universally recognized)
- Belarusian exarchate
- Estonian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
- Latvian Orthodox Church
- Hungarian diocese
- Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (autonomous; union completed on May 17, 2007.)
Serbian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Peć and of all Serbia)
- Patriarchate of Bucureşti and all Romania (Muntenia)
- Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova
- Metropolis of Timişoara and all Oltenia
- Bishopric of Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania, Hungary, possibly Bohemia, Slevania, and parts of the HRE)
Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Sofia)
American Orthodox Church (autocephalic-status in question)
Autocephalous Orthodox Monastic Church of the Holy Mountain
- Eparchy of Vilnius (established in 1924)
- Eparchy of Kūvalas (established in 1926)
- Eparchy of Gardinas (established in 1924)
- Eparchy of Africa (founded in 1936 and formerly known as the Eparchy of Naujasis Vilnius, renamed the Pakštuvan Orthodox Church whose autonomy was never recognised, and in 1942 moved to Salisbury, Rhodesia where it rejoined the Lithuanian Orthodox Church and was changed its name in 1952. It is primarily found amongst Lithuanian communities in southern Africa and eastern Africa)
- Eparchy of Warsina (established in 1954)
- Eparchy of America (established in 1978 in Tejas)
- Eparchy of the East (Autonomous Gudijan Orthodox Church in Minsk)