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Orthodox Church

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The '''Eastern Orthodox Church''' is the same [[Ecclesiology|Church]] that arose in parts founded by [[Jesus Christ]] and his [[apostles]], begun at the day of Eastern Europe and [[Pentecost]] with the Middle East after descent of the Great Schism [[Holy Spirit]] in 1054 the year 33 A.D. It is also known (especially in the contemporary West) as the '''Eastern Orthodox ChurchesChurch''' or the '''Greek Orthodox Church'''. It is sometimes may also be called the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian Church, the [[One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church|one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church]], the [[Body of Christ]], the [[Bride of Christ]], or simply '''the Church'''. The [[bishop]]s of the Orthodox Churches trace unbroken [[Apostolic succession|succession]] to the very [[apostles]] themselves, therefore ultimately receiving their consecrations from our [[Lord]] [[Jesus Christ]]. All the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, no matter their titles, are equal in their [[sacrament]]al office. The various titles given to bishops are simply administrative or honorific in their essence. At an [[ecumenical council]], each bishop may cast only one vote, whether he is the Ecumenical Patriarch or simply an [[auxiliary bishop]] without a [[diocese]]. Thus, there is no equivalent to the [[Roman Catholic Church|Roman Catholic]] [[pope|papacy]] within the Eastern Orthodox Churches. As with its [[Apostolic succession]], the [[faith]] held by the Church is that which was handed by [[Jesus Christ|Christ]] to the [[apostles]]. Nothing is added to or subtracted from that deposit of faith which was "handed once for all to the saints" ([[Book of Jude|Jude]] 3). Throughout history, various [[heresy|heresies]] have afflicted the Church, and at those times the Churchmakes [[dogma|dogmatic]] pronouncements (especially at [[ecumenical councils]]) delineating in new language what has always been believed by the Church, thus preventing the spread of [[heresy]] and calling to repentance those who [[schism|rend asunder]] the Body of Christ. Its primary statement of faith is the [[Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed]]. ==Very brief history==* See: [[Timeline of Church History]] for more history Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and founded the Church, through His Apostles and disciples, for the salvation of man. In the years which followed, the Apostles spread the Church and its teachings and founded many churches, all united in faith, worship, and the partaking of the Mysteries (or as they are called in the West, the Sacraments) of the Holy Church. The churches founded by the Apostles themselves include the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Rome and Constantinople. The [[Church of Alexandria]] was founded by St. Mark, the [[Church of Antioch]] by St Paul, the [[Church of Jerusalem]] by Ss. Peter and James, the [[Church of Rome]] by Ss. Peter and Paul, and [[Church of Constantinople]] by St Andrew. Those founded in later years through the missionary activity of the first churches were the Churches of Sinai, [[Church of Russia|Russia]], [[Church of Greece|Greece]], [[Church of Serbia|Serbia]], [[Church of Bulgaria|Serbia]], [[Church of Romania|Serbia]], and many others. Each church has always had independent administration, but, with the exception of the Church of Rome, which finally separated from the others in the year 1054, are united in faith, doctrine, Apostolic tradition, sacraments, liturgies, and services. Together they constitute and are called the “Orthodox Church”, literally means "right teaching" or "right worship", derived from two Greek words: orthos, "right," and doxa, "teaching" or "worship." The Orthodox Church historically stands in direct continuity with the earliest Christian communities founded in regions of the Eastern Mediterranean by the apostles of the Lord Jesus. The destiny of Christianity in those areas was shaped by the transfer in 320 AD of the imperial capital from (Old) Rome to (New "Rome") Constantinople by Constantine I. As a consequence, during the first Eight Centuries of Church history, most major cultural, intellectual, and social developments in the Christian church also took place in that region; for instance, all [[Ecumenical Councils|ecumenical councils]] of that period met either in, or near Constantinople. Missionaries, coming from Constantinople, converted the Slavs and other peoples of Eastern Europe to Christianity (Bulgaria, 864; Russia, 988) and translated Scripture and liturgical texts into the vernacular languages used in the various regions. Thus, the liturgy, traditions, and practices of the church of Constantinople were adopted by all and still provide the basic patterns of contemporary Orthodoxy. Developments were not always consistent with the evolution of Western Christianity, where the bishop of Rome, or pope, came to be considered the successor of the apostle Peter and head of the universal church by divine appointment. Eastern Christians were willing to accept the pope only as first among patriarchs. This difference explains the various incidents that grew into a serious estrangement. One of the most vehement disputes concerned the [[filioque|filioque clause]] of the [[Nicene Creed]], which the Western church added unilaterally to the original text. The schism came slowly. The first major breach came in the Ninth century when the Pope refused to recognize the election of [[Photius the Great|Photius]] as patriarch of Constantinople. Photius in turn challenged the right of the papacy to rule on the matter and denounced the filioque clause as a Western innovation.  The growing disputes between East and West reached another peak in 1054 AD, when mutual anathemas were exchanged. The sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade (1204 AD) intensified Eastern hostility toward the West.  Attempts at reconciliation at the councils of [[Lyon]] (1274 AD) and [[Council of Florence|Florence]] (1438-39 AD) were unsuccessful. When the papacy defined itself as infallible ([[First Vatican Council]], 1870 AD), the gulf between East and West grew wider. Only since the [[Second Vatican Council]] (1962-65) has the movement reversed, talks are bringing serious attempts at mutual understanding.
The [[bishop]]s of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church trace unbroken [[Apostolic succession|succession]] to the very [[apostles]] themselves, therefore ultimately receiving their consecrations from our [[Lord]] [[Jesus Christ]]. All the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church, no matter their titles, are equal in their [[sacrament]]al office. The various titles given to bishops are simply administrative or honorific in their essence. At an [[ecumenical council]], each bishop may cast only one vote, whether he is the Ecumenical Patriarch or simply an [[auxiliary bishop]] without a [[diocese]]. Thus, there is no equivalent to the [[pope|papacy]] within the Eastern Orthodox Church.
== Current Church structure ==
The Eastern Orthodox Church Churches of today consists consist of a family of fourteen or fifteen [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] churches and five [[autonomy|autonomous]] churches, sometimes referred to as [[jurisdiction|jurisdictions]]. The number of autocephalous churches has varied in history. Autocephalous churches are fully self-governing in all they do, while autonomous churches must have their [[primate|primates]] confirmed by one of the autocephalous churches, usually its mother church. All the Orthodox churches remain in [[full communion]] with one another, sharing the same [[faith]] and [[praxis]]. There have been occasional breaks in communion due to various problems throughout history, but they generally remain brief and not developing into full [[schism]]. It is hoped that the [[Great Schism]], with the Catholic [[Churchof Rome]], will someday be mended too.  The [[Church of Constantinople|Patriarchate of Constantinople]] is also the Ecumenical Patriarchate and has the status of "first among equals" among the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Church is not a centralized organization headed by a pontiff, but an organic community guided by the Holy Spirit in the world. The unity of the Church is visible in, and held together with, common faith and communion in the sacraments. No one but Christ himself is the real head of the Orthodox Church.
'''See: [[List of autocephalous and autonomous Churches]]'''

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