Eastern Orthodox Church organization
The Orthodox Church is a communion comprising the fifteen separate autocephalous hierarchical churches that recognize each other as "canonical" Orthodox Christian churches. There is an essentially political disagreement over the autocephaly of one of the churches—the Orthodox Church in America.
There is no single earthly head of all the Orthodox Churches comparable to the Pope of Rome. The highest-ranking bishop of the communion is the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is also primate of one of the autocephalous churches. These organizations are in full communion with each other, so any priest of any of those churches may lawfully minister to any member of any of them, and no member of any is excluded from any form of worship in any of the others, including reception of the Eucharist. Each local or national Orthodox Church is a portion of the Orthodox Church as a whole.
In the early Middle Ages, the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" was ruled by five patriarchs: the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem; these were collectively referred to as the Pentarchy. Each patriarch had jurisdiction over bishops in a specified geographic region. This continued until 927, when the autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric became the first newly-promoted patriarchate to join the original five.
The patriarch of Rome was "first in place of honor" among the five patriarchs. Disagreement about the limits of his authority was one of the causes of the Great Schism, conventionally dated to the year 1054, which split the church into the Catholic Church in the West, headed by the Bishop of Rome, and the Orthodox Church, led by the four eastern patriarchs. After the schism this honorary primacy shifted to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who had previously been accorded the second-place rank at the First Council of Constantinople.
- 1 Jurisdictions
- 2 Notes
- 3 Sources and external links
The autocephalous Orthodox churches
(ranked in order of seniority, as per year of independence (autocephaly)Template:Dubious)
- The Church of Constantinople, under the Ecumenical Patriarch
- The Church of Alexandria
- The Church of Antioch
- The Church of Jerusalem
- The Church of Cyprus (est. 431)
- The Church of Georgia (est. 486)
- The Orthodox Church of Mount Sinai (est 527)
- The Church of Bulgaria (est. 919)
- The Church of Serbia (est. 1219)
- The Church of Russia (est. 1448)
- The Church of Greece (est. 1833)
- The Church of Romania (est. 1872)
- The Church of Albania (est. 1922)
- The Church of Poland (est. 1924)
- The Church of Czech and Slovak lands (est. 1951)
- The Orthodox Church in America* (est. 1970)
The four ancient patriarchates are most senior, followed by the five junior patriarchates. Autocephalous churches whose leaders are archbishops follow the patriarchates in seniority, with the Church of Cyprus being the only ancient one (AD 434). From the Orthodox point of view there would be five ancient patriarchates had the Great Schism not occurred, dividing the Church of Rome from the Orthodox Churches in the 11th century.
*Autocephaly is not universally recognized.
The autonomous Orthodox churches
- under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- The Finnish Orthodox Church
- The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church*
- The Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe*
- The Korean Orthodox Church*
- under the Patriarchate of Antioch
- The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
- under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- The Orthodox Church of Mount Sinai (see above)
- under the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia
- The Estonian Orthodox Church*
- The Latvian Orthodox Church
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church
- The Moldovan Orthodox Church
- The Japanese Orthodox Church*
- The Chinese Orthodox Church*
- The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia*
- under the Patriarchate of Peć and All Serbia
- The Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric*
- under the Patriarchate of Romania
- The Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia
- The Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas
* Autonomy not universally recognized.
The Orthodox churches without autonomy
- under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy
- The Philippine Orthodox Church
- The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Churches in resistance
Due to what these churches perceive as the errors of modernism and ecumenism in mainstream Orthodoxy, they refrain from concelebration of the Divine Liturgy with them while maintaining that they remain fully within the canonical boundaries of the Church: i.e., professing Orthodox belief, retaining legitimate episcopal succession, and existing in communities with historical continuity. With the exception of the Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance), they will commune the faithful from all the canonical jurisdictions and are recognized by and in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
Due in part to the re-establishment of official ties between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, the Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance) has broken ecclesial communion with ROCOR, but the converse has not happened. Where the Old Calendar Romanian and Bulgarian churches stand on the matter is as yet unclear.
- The Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance)
- The Old Calendar Romanian Orthodox Church
- The Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Churches that have voluntarily "walled themselves off"
These Churches do not practice Communion with any other Orthodox jurisdictions nor do they tend to recognize each other. Yet, like the "Churches in Resistance" above they remain fully within the canonical boundaries of the Church: i.e., professing Orthodox belief, retaining what they believe to be legitimate episcopal succession, and existing in communities with historical continuity. Nevertheless, their relationship with all other Orthodox Churches remains unclear, as 'Orthodox' Churches normally recognize and are recognized by others.
- Old Believers
- The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece
- The Russian True Orthodox Church
- The Russian Orthodox Church in America
- The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
- The Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America
- The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Churches that are unrecognized
The following Churches recognize all other mainstream Orthodox Churches, but are not recognized by any of them due to various disputes:
- The Macedonian Orthodox Church
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate
Churches self-styled as Orthodox, unrecognized as such
- The Bulgarian Alternative Synod
- The Croatian Orthodox Church (1942–1945)
- The Orthodox Church in Italy
- The Montenegrin Orthodox Church
- The Karamanli Turkish Orthodox Church
- Territorial Jurisdiction According to Orthodox Canon Law. The Phenomenon of Ethnophyletism in Recent Years, a paper read at the International Congress of Canon Law, 2001, (Ecumenical Patriarchate website)
- List of Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches, an OrthodoxWiki article
- World Orthodox Churches, at Orthodox Church in America website
- Religious Organisations - Orthodox Churches, at WorldStatesmen.org