→External links: Fixed broken link to CNEWA website.
primate=[[Kyrill I (Gundyayev) of Moscow|Patr. Kyrill I]]|
territory=Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan
, some former Soviet republics|
possessions=United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Western Europe, China|
mospat.ru/ Church of Russia]
The '''Church of Russia''',
also referred to as the ''' Moscow Patriarchate''' and known officially as the ''' Russian Orthodox Church''', is one of the [[autocephalous]] Orthodox churches, ranking fifth after [[Church of Constantinople|Constantinople]], [[Church of Alexandria|Alexandria]], [[Church of Antioch|Antioch]], and [[Church of Jerusalem|Jerusalem]]. It exercises [[jurisdiction]] over Orthodox Christians in Russia and the surrounding Slavic lands as well as [[exarchate]]s and patriarchal representation churches around the world. It also exercises jurisdiction over the autonomous [[Church of Japan]] and Orthodox Christians in China. The current Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is His Holiness [[Kyrill I (Gundyayev) of Moscow|Kyrill I (Gundyayev)]].
According to the statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church
, its jurisdiction includes persons of Orthodox confession living on the [[canonical territory]] of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia, Japan and also Orthodox Christians living in other countries who voluntarily join the jurisdiction.
*The [[Latvian Orthodox Church]]
*The [[Moldovan Orthodox Church|Orthodox Church of Moldova]]
*The [[Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia]]
*The [[Church of Ukraine|Ukrainian Orthodox Church]]
* The [[Church of Japan|Japanese Orthodox Church]] The self-governing churches receive their [[chrism]] from the Patriarch of Moscow and exercise their activities on the basis of patriarchal [[tomos]].
This claim of jurisdiction is disputed by other Orthodox churches in a number of cases (particularly in Estonia and Moldova, as well as in the [[diaspora]]; there are also major schismatic elements in Ukraine that want an [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] Ukrainian church), due mainly to the changing shape of the boundaries of Russia. Due to the moving of political borders in history, the canonical territory of the Russian church is not clearly defined—the 1593 Council of Constantinople which confirmed its [[autocephaly]] defined it as the territory of "Moscow, Russia, and all the Northern Lands. "
===The Kiev period (988-1237)===
Cyril and Methodius not only brought Christianity in a common language, they brought Byzantium. The Slavs received a fully articulated system of Christian doctrine and a fully developed Christian civilization. The age of the [[Ecumenical Councils|Seven Councils]] was complete and the doctrines of the [[Trinity]] and the [[Incarnation]] had already been worked out. Because people were preached to in their own tongue, and of taking services in Slavonic, they truly could make Christianity their own.
Around 864 Patriarch Photius sent a bishop to Kiev(capital of present day Ukraine), but this was stopped by Oleg, who assumed power at Kiev (the chief Rus' city at this time) in 878. Christian ideas from Byzantium, Bulgaria, and Scandinavia, still came into Kievan-Rus'.
===Mongol Tartars over Russia (1237-1448) ===
In the 12th century, the period of feudal divisions, the Kievan-Rus' Church
(present day Ukraine) remained the only bearer of the idea of unity of the people, resisting the centrifugal aspirations and feudal strife among Rus' princes. Even the Tartar invasion, this greatest ever misfortune that struck Rus' in the 13th century, failed to break the Orthodox Church. The Church managed to survive as a real force and was the comforter of the people in their plight. It made a great spiritual, material and moral contribution to the restoration of the political unity of Russia as a guarantee of its future victory over the invaders.
Also, at this same time, the Grand Duke Alexander of Novgorod, won a great victory on the banks of the Neva' over the Swedes, who had been incited by the Pope to conquer Russia for the Latin Church.
After the [[fall of Constantinople]] in 1453, there was only one nation that saw itself as capable of assuming leadership in Eastern Christendom. The growing might of the Russian state also contributed to the growing authority of the autocephalous Russian Church. To the Russian people, it was a sign from God, that at the very moment when the Byzantine Empire was ending, they themselves were throwing off the few remaining vestiges of Tartar control. To them, Moscow became the [[Third Rome]], a status never acknowledged by the remainder of the Church but nevertheless which served to inspire Russian Orthodox Christians.
===Non-Possessors ===Saint [[Nilus of Sora]] (Nil Sorsky, 1433?-1508), a monk from a remote hermitage in the forests beyond the Volga, launched an attack on the ownership of land by monasteries.
Saint Joseph, Abbot of Volokalamsk (1439-1515), replied in defense of monastic landholding. This became known as the dispute between the "Possessors" and the "Non-Possessors". (Note that both are saints of the Church.)
As the "Third Rome",
the tsar derived his power and right to rule from being God's chosen representative on earth. So, to keep his status, he needed to protect and promote the church. In the Byzantium tradition, the relationship between the church and the state acted as a check on the power of the tsar. The metropolitan and the tsar were equals, and the metropolitan had the right to censure the tsar. The dispute between the Possessors and the Non-Possessors challenged this idea because about a third of the land in Russia belonged to monasteries at this time.
The Possessors and the Non-Possessors held different views about the role the church should play in society and in politics. When the Possessors triumphed, the church gained the right to wealth at the expense of political influence. The tsar became superior to the metropolitan, and could now interfere in secular matters of the church. The tsar was cut off from any source of accountability.
The reforms caused the separation from the Church of those who
ignorantly and blindly supposed that the corrupted service-books were divinely inspired. Some [[clergy]]men and [[laity|lay people]] were perhaps more hesitant about accepting the liturgical reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon and were anathematized by the church authority.
===The Synodical Church (1700-1917)===
===The Russian Church (20th century)===
Early in the 20th century the Russian Church began preparations for convening an [[All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918|All-Russian Council]]. But it was to be convened only after the 1917 Revolution. Among its major actions was the restoration of the patriarchal office in the Russian Church. The Council elected Metropolitan [[Tikhon of Moscow]] Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' (1917-1925).
St. Tikhon of Moscow exerted every effort to calm the destructive passions kindled up by the revolution.
When in 1921-1922 the Soviet government demanded that church valuables be given in aid to the population starving because of the failure of crops in 1921, a conflict erupted between the Church and the new authorities who decided to use this situation to demolish the Church to the end. By the beginning of World War II the church structure was almost completely destroyed throughout the country. There were only a few bishops who remained free and who could perform their duties. Some bishops managed to survive in remote parts or under the disguise of priests. Only a few hundred churches were opened for services throughout the Soviet Union. Most of the clergy were either imprisoned in
concentration camps, where many of them perished, or hid in catacombs, while thousands of priests changed occupation. World War II forced Stalin to mobilize all the national resources for defense, including the Russian Orthodox Church as the people's moral force. This process, which can be described as a "patriotic union", culminated in Stalin's receiving on September 4, 1943, Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan [[Sergius I (Stragorodsky) of Moscow| Sergiy Stragorodsky]] and Metropolitan [[Alexei I (Simansky) of Moscow| Alexy Simansky]] and [[Nicholas (Yarushevich) of Kiev| Nikolay Yarushevich]].
The Russian clergy outside the USSR, who rejected demands of loyalty to the Soviet Communist
authoroties put forth by Sergiy Stragorodsky in 1927 (in the so called [[Declaration of 1927]]), formed the [[Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia]].
==The Russian Orthodox Church today==
The Russian Orthodox Church claims about 26,000 parishes. Out of these, more than 50% (14,700) are in Ukraine.[http://www.risu.org.ua/library/doc/MP_canter.pdf]
mospat.ru/ index.php?lng=1 Church of Russia] official website in English*[http://www. patriarchia.ru/ Patriarchia.RU] official portal of the Moscow Patriarchate ( Russian only)* [http://www. cnewa. org/ ecc-bodypg. aspx?eccpageID=17&IndexView=toc Eastern Christian Churches: The Orthodox Church of Russia] by Ronald Roberson, a Roman Catholic priest and scholar <!--- * [http://www. pravos.org/ index. htm Commission Dialogue Moscow Patriarchate-Church outside Russia] --->*[http://www.risu.org.ua/library/doc/MP_canter.pdf Canonical Territory of the Moscow Patriarchate : An Analysis of Contemporary Russian Orthodox Thought], by Fr. J. Buciora , Ph.D. ( a paper criticizing the actions of the MP outside Russia)*[http:// www.orthodoxa.org/ GB/orthodoxy/canonlaw/russianterritory.htm The Russian Canonical Territory], from the website of the [[Church of Estonia]] (a paper critical of the MP's actions in Estonia)