Eastern Orthodox Church
Orthodox Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox ChurchGeneral Information
One of the three branches of world Christianity and the major Christian church in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the Orthodox church, also sometimes called the Eastern church, or the Greek Orthodox, or Orthodox Catholic church, claims to have preserved the original and apostolic Christian faith. Figures for its worldwide membership range from 100 to 200 million, depending on the method of accounting.
Structure and OrganizationThe Orthodox church is a fellowship of administratively independent, or autocephalous (self - governing) local churches, united in faith, sacraments, and canonical discipline, each enjoying the right to elect its own head and its bishops. Traditionally, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) is recognized as the "first among equal" Orthodox bishops. He possesses privileges of chairmanship and initiative but no direct doctrinal or administrative authority.
The other heads of autocephalous churches, in order of precedence, are: the patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, with jurisdiction over Africa; the patriarch of Antioch, now residing in Damascus, Syria, and heading Arab - speaking Orthodox Christians in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq; the patriarch of Jerusalem, with jurisdiction over Palestine; the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia; the patriarch - catholicos of Georgia ( U S S R ); the patriarch of Serbia (Yugoslavia); the patriarch of Romania; the patriarch of Bulgaria; the archbishop of Cyprus; the archbishop of Athens and all Greece; the metropolitan of Warsaw and all Poland; the archbishop of Albania (presently suppressed); the metropolitan of Prague and all Czechoslovakia; and the archbishop of New York and North America.
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The patriarch of Constantinople, however, also exercises jurisdiction over Greek - speaking churches outside Greece and controls, for example, the Greek archdiocese of America, which is distinct from the Orthodox church in America, listed among the autocephalous churches. In Greece the Orthodox church is the established religion. Long repressed in the U S S R and the Communist countries of Eastern Europe, it experienced renewed freedom with the removal of restrictions on religion during the Gorbachev era.
These developments, however, 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 in approach explains the various incidents that grew into a serious estrangement. One of the most vehement disputes concerned the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed, which the Western church added unilaterally to the original text.
The schism developed gradually. The first major breach came in the 9th century when the pope refused to recognize the election of 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 mounting disputes between East and West reached another climax in 1054, when mutual anathemas were exchanged (Great Schism). The sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade (1204) intensified Eastern hostility toward the West. Attempts at reconciliation at the councils of Lyon (1274) and Florence (1438 - 39) were unsuccessful. When the papacy defined itself as infallible (First Vatican Council, 1870), the gulf between East and West grew wider. Only since the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 65) has the movement reversed, bringing serious attempts at mutual understanding.
After an early controversy on the subject, the images, or Icons, of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints are now seen as visible witnesses to the fact that God has taken human flesh in the person of Jesus. The Liturgy used by the Orthodox church is known as the Byzantine rite. It has been translated from Greek into many languages, including the Old Church Slavonic used by the Russian Orthodox church. The liturgy is always sung, and communion is distributed to the congregation in both kinds (bread and wine).
Monasticism, which had its origins in the Christian East (Egypt, Syria, Cappadocia), has since been considered in the Orthodox church as a prophetic ministry of men and women, showing through their mode of life the action of the Holy Spirit. The monastic republic of Mount Athos, Greece, is still viewed among Orthodox Christians as a center of spiritual vitality.
The Orthodox church has been generally quite open to the contemporary Ecumenical Movement. One by one, the autocephalous churches have all joined the Protestant - initiated World Council Of Churches, without modifying their own view on Christian unity, but considering the council as an acceptable forum for dialogue and cooperation with other Christians. The recent steps taken by the Roman Catholic church and the decrees of the Second Vatican Council were seen by the Orthodox as promising groundwork for the future, and this positive reaction was witnessed by several meetings between Orthodox and Catholic leaders, including participation by Vatican representatives in ceremonies marking the thousandth anniversary of Russian Christianity in 1988.
D Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East (1962) and Saints of the East (1962); D Constantelos, Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church (1982); D Drillock and J Erickson, eds., The Divine Liturgy (1982); J Ellis, The Russian Orthodox Church: A Contemporary History (1986); J Forest, Pilgrim to the Russian Church (1988); J M Hussey, The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire (1986); N Lernor, Eastern Christendom (1961); J Macha, Ecclesiastical Unification: A Theoretical Framework (1974); J Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (1987), and The Orthodox Church, Its Past and Its Role in the World Today (1962); J Paraskevas, and F Reinstein, The Eastern Orthodox Church (1969); L J Rogier, ed., The Christian Centuries (1962 - 78); S Runciman, Byzantine Style and Civilization (1975) and The Great Church in Captivity (1968); S Salaville, An Introduction to the Study of Eastern Liturgies (1938); T Ware, The Orthodox Church (1963); N Zernov, Eastern Christendom (1961).
The autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, officially established in 1970, has as its stated goal the unification of all Orthodox Christians in the U.S. and Canada on a territorial basis. Nonetheless, large ethnic jurisdictions, particularly the Greek Archdiocese of America, are administratively connected with mother churches abroad.
This belief that truth is inseparable from the life of the sacramental community provides the basis for the Orthodox understanding of the apostolic succession of bishops: Consecrated by their peers and occupying the "place of Christ" at the Eucharistic meal, where the church gathers, they are the guardians and witnesses of a tradition that goes back, uninterrupted, to the apostles and that unites the local churches in the community of faith.
One of the major characteristics of Orthodox worship is a great wealth of hymns, which mark the various liturgical cycles. These cycles, used in sometimes complicated combinations, are the daily cycle, with hymns for vespers, compline, the midnight prayer, matins, and the four canonical hours; the paschal cycle, which includes the period of Lent before Easter and the 50 days separating Easter and Pentecost and which is continued throughout the Sundays of the year; and the yearly, or sanctoral, cycle, which provides hymns for immovable feasts and the daily celebration of saints. Created during the Byzantine Middle Ages, this liturgical system is still being developed through the addition of hymns honoring new saints. Thus, two early missionaries to Alaska, St. Herman and St. Innocent, were recently added to the catalog of Orthodox saints.
The two interpretations of primacy - "apostolic" in the West, "pragmatic" in the East - coexisted for centuries, and tensions were resolved in a conciliar way. Eventually, however, conflicts led to permanent schism. In the 7th century the universally accepted creed was interpolated in Spain with the Latin word filioque, meaning "and from the Son," thus rendering the creed as "I believe ... in the Holy Spirit ... who proceeds from the Father and the Son." The interpolation, initially opposed by the popes, was promoted in Europe by Charlemagne (crowned emperor in 800) and his successors. Eventually, it was also accepted (circa 1014) in Rome. The Eastern church, however, considered the interpolation heretical. Moreover, other issues became controversial: For instance, the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist. Secondary in themselves, these conflicts could not be resolved because the two sides followed different criteria of judgment: The papacy considered itself the ultimate judge in matters of faith and discipline, whereas the East invoked the authority of councils, where the local churches spoke as equals.
It is often assumed that the anathemas exchanged in Constantinople in 1054 between the patriarch Michael Cerularius and papal legates marked the final schism. The schism, however, actually took the form of a gradual estrangement, beginning well before 1054 and culminating in the sack of Constantinople by Western Crusaders in 1204.
In the late medieval period, several attempts made at reunion, particularly in Lyons (1274) and in Florence (1438-39), ended in failure. The papal claims to ultimate supremacy could not be reconciled with the conciliar principle of Orthodoxy, and the religious differences were aggravated by cultural and political misunderstandings.
After the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, they recognized the ecumenical patriarch of that city as both the religious and the political spokesman for the entire Christian population of the Turkish empire. The patriarchate of Constantinople, although still retaining its honorary primacy in the Orthodox church, ended as an ecumenical institution in the 19th century when, with the liberation of the Orthodox peoples from Turkish rule, a succession of autocephalous churches was set up: Greece (1833), Romania (1864), Bulgaria (1871), and Serbia (1879).
The Orthodox church in Russia declared its independence from Constantinople in 1448. In 1589 the patriarchate of Moscow was established and formally recognized by Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople. For the Russian church and the tsars, Moscow had become the "third Rome," the heir to the imperial supremacy of ancient Rome and Byzantium. The patriarchate of Moscow never had even the sporadic autonomy of the patriarchate of Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire. Except for the brief reign of Patriarch Nikon in the mid-17th century, the patriarchs of Moscow and the Russian church were entirely subordinate to the tsars. In 1721, Tsar Peter the Great abolished the patriarchate altogether, and thereafter the church was governed through the imperial administration. The patriarchate was reestablished in 1917, at the time of the Russian Revolution, but the church was violently persecuted by the Communist government. As the Soviet regime became less repressive and, in 1991, broke up, the church showed signs ofrenewed vitality. (The Orthodox church in Eastern Europe had a similar but foreshortened history, restricted by Communist governments after World War II but gaining freedoms in the late 1980s.)
The Protestant majority in the World Council of Churches has occasionally made Orthodox participation in that body awkward, and the ecumenical attitude adopted during the reign of Pope John XXIII by the Roman Catholic church (which does not belong to the council) has been welcomed by Orthodox officials and has led to new and friendlier relations between the churches. Orthodox observers were present at the sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and several meetings took place between popes Paul VI and John Paul II on the one side, and patriarchs Athenagoras and Demetrios on the other. In another symbolic gesture, the mutual anathemas of 1054 were lifted (1965) by both sides. The two churches have established a joint commission for dialogue between them. Representatives met on at least 11 occasions between 1966 and 1981 to discuss differences in doctrine and practice. The claim to authority and infallibility made by the pope is generally seen as the primary obstacle to full reconciliation.
Rev. John Meyendorff
The Orthodox Tradition is the theological tradition, generally associated with the national churches of the eastern Mediterranean and eastern Europe and principally with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose distinguishing characteristic consists in preservation of the integrity of the doctrines taught by the fathers of the seven ecumenical councils of the fourth through eighth centuries. Through medieval times the churches of the Orthodox tradition were mainly Greek - speaking; in modern times they have been predominantly Slavic.
The third council, Ephesus (431), rejected Nestorianism by affirming that in Christ divinity and humanity united in a single person, the Word made flesh. In its primary thrust this affirmation set the premise of Orthodox Christology; it also set the premise for the development of doctrine concerning Mary. In that the Christ was God incarnate, the Virgin was "Mother of God" (Theotokos, "god - bearer"); she was not simply mother of an ordinary human. In consequence of this declaration Orthodoxy expressed high regard for Mary, positing her perpetual virginity and sinless life while remaining skeptical of the later Catholic dogmas of the immaculate conception and assumption.
The next three councils, Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), and Constantinople III (680), confronted the heresy of monophysitism in its evolving forms, further defining for Orthodoxy its Christology, which states that in the one person of Christ there are two entire natures, the human and divine, including two wills.
The seventh council, Nicaea II (787), in the midst of the struggle over iconoclasm, defined the doctrine of images representing Christ and the saints, requiring that the faithful venerate, but not worship, them. In the aftermath of this council, whose decrees were not approved by the Roman papacy (although they did not conflict with Catholic teaching), the divergence of Orthodoxy from Western Christian theology became increasingly pronounced. In a special way painted icons became symbols of Orthodoxy, inasmuch as they united correct doctrine and correct worship, the twin meanings of the word, and this perception led to the designation of the final restoration of icons in Byzantine churches on the first Sunday of Lent in 843 as the "triumph of Orthodoxy."
For Orthodoxy, the artistic image reiterated the truth that the invisible God had become visible in the incarnate Son of God who was the perfect image of God; the image channeled the presence of the person depicted to the one contemplating it, as the incarnate Word had brought God to man.
Since Nicaea II no genuinely ecumenical council has been possible, owing to the defection (in Orthodoxy's view) of the Roman See, and thus no new absolutely definitive declaration of Orthodox dogma has been possible. From this fact derives Orthodoxy's self - conscious identity as the church of the seven councils and its sense of mission in preserving the faith of the ancient fathers of the church. But Orthodox theology did not stagnate in subsequent centuries, as changing circumstances and developments in others' theologies challenged Orthodox thinkers to refine and restate their conceptions of the faith presupposed by the patristic decrees.
Such formulations have acquired considerable authority by approvals enunciated in local councils or by long - term common consent within Orthodoxy, although they do not have the canonical authority of the ecumenical decrees which Orthodoxy views to have been divinely inspired and therefore infallible. When a statement receives widespread acceptance among Orthodox churches, it acquires the status of "symbolic book."
The theological dimension of the schism with Western Catholicism rested primarily in Orthodoxy's rejection of Rome's claim that its bishop was the unique successor of Peter with the consequent prerogative to define dogma. While granting a certain primacy of honor to the papacy, Orthodoxy saw all right - teaching bishops as equally successors of Peter, from which derived the requirement that only genuinely ecumenical, episcopal councils possessed the power of binding the conscience of the faithful. Therefore Orthodoxy has resisted those doctrines which it views as Roman innovations.
The most celebrated point of controversy between Orthodoxy and Western theology arose over the insertion of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed sometime after the eight century. Besides rejecting this nonconciliar tampering with the decrees of the fathers, Orthodoxy saw in the assertion that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son" the presupposition of two originating principles within the Godhead, negating the integrity of the Trinity. Most Orthodox thinkers could accept a formulation whereby the Spirit proceeds "from the Father through, or with, the Son," following the chief medieval Orthodox teacher, John of Damascus. But until an ecumenical council acted, this would remain merely "theological teaching" (theologoumena).
On the other doctrinal questions where Catholic innovations might be identified, Orthodoxy has been less firm in its denunciations than in the filioque issue. Regarding the state of persons after death, Orthodoxy rejects the notion of purgatory as a place distinct from heaven and hell. At the same time it concedes that there is an intermediate period of temporal pain in which penance for sins is carried out by those destined for heaven; moreover, full blessedness, even for saints, is not achieved until after Christ's final judgment. Prayers for the dead, therefore, can have efficacy. Following the Western resolution of the dogma of the real presence in the Eucharist, Orthodox writers adopted the literal translation of "transubstantiation" into Greek (metousiosis). But in a distinction that had both theological and liturgical significance, Orthodoxy insisted that the miracle of transformation did not occur through the celebrant's enunciation of the words, "This is my body," but by the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the epiclesis: "Send thy Holy Spirit so as to make the bread to be the body of thy Christ." This difference signifies Orthodoxy's greater sensitivity of the Spirit than has generally been evident in the West.
Orthodoxy agreed with Catholicism in acknowledging seven sacraments while not insisting upon the absolute significance of the number. The two sacraments which were clearly evangelical, baptism and Communion, along with confirmation (called chrismation by Orthodoxy and administered immediately after baptism), occupied a higher place than the rest. Orthodox writers regularly criticized the West's failure to use immersion as the proper mode of baptism, although most acknowledged the validity of aspersion in the Trine name. The Orthodox baptize by triple immersion, baptizing both adults and infants. Orthodoxy's use of leavened bread in the Eucharist, instead of the unleavened wafers of the West, was mostly a liturgical matter, although it was given theological meaning by the explanation that the leaven signified evangelical joy in contrast to the "Mosaic" regime of Catholic practice.
Its doctrine of the church distinguishes Orthodoxy most clearly from all other theologies. According to this doctrine the visible church is the body of Christ, a communion of believers, headed by a bishop and united by the Eucharist, in which God dwells. As such, although individual members are fallible sinners, the church is held to be infallible. This true church by definition is the Orthodox Church, which is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," from which other churches are separated. That is, the church consists of those believers who remain in fellowship with, and submission to, the concert of historic patriachates, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome. (When Rome separated from the concert, Moscow assumed membership in the pentarchy, although Rome's place remains reserved for it to resume if it will renounce its obstinacy.)
The infallibility of the church validates the authority of tradition on a par with that of Scripture. Moreover, tradition established both canon and interpretation of that Scripture and thus takes logical precedence over it. How to determine precisely what tradition teaches, however, remains a partially open question for Orthodoxy, since no single office is acknowledged to have definitive authority for the whole church, such as the papacy has for Roman Catholicism. In principle the church speaks authoritatively through episcopal councils; but this claim only moves the issue back one step because it raises the question of what validates which meetings of bishops as genuine rather than "robber" councils (as the Council of Constantinople of 754 is regularly designated). In the end, Orthodoxy trusts that the Holy Spirit abides in the church and in his own mysterious way leads and preserves his people in all truth.
This trust produces, in practice, a measure of freedom within what could otherwise be a stifling traditionalism.
Relying principally on the sixth century writer Dionysius the Pseudo - Areopagite, Orthodox writers insisted that God in his nature is beyond any understanding. Humans can know nothing about the being of God, and therefore all theological statements must be of a negative, or apophactic, form: God is unchanging, immovable, infinite, etc. Even a seemingly positive affirmation has only negative significance; for example, to say, "God is Spirit," is actually to affirm his noncorporeality. Theology, then, is not a science of God, which is impossible, but of his revelation. That which is known is not necessarily true of God but is what God chooses to disclose, although in that sense it is indeed true knowledge.
Such a theology of negation led to the elevation of spiritual experience to at least an equal role with rationality as an epistemological principle in theology. Maximus Confessor, orthodoxy's chief twelfth century teacher, affirmed: "A perfect mind is one which, by true faith, in supreme ignorance knows the supremely unknowable one." Knowledge of God comes from illumination, the inner vision of true light, for "God is light." From this perception derived Orthodoxy's characteristic fascination with the transfiguration of Jesus, when the light of his deity was supremely revealed to the apostles. It also fostered Heyschasm, in which the mystic's vision of divinity became a theologically significant enterprise. It is for this reason that what is called Orthodox theology is also designated with equal validity "Orthodox spirituality." The chief synthesizer of this aspect of Orthodoxy was Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth century.
The Orthodox concept of salvation as deification undergirded the contemplative methodology implied in the illumination view. Only the "pure in heart" see God, and purity comes only by divine grace in the economy of redemption. Those who are redeemed through the incarnation, whom the NT designates "sons of God" and "partakers of the divine nature," are deified; that is, they become created, in contrast to uncreated, gods. "God became man that we might be made God," said Athanasius of Alexandria; and Maximus Confessor declared: "All that God is, except for an identity in nature, one becomes when one is deified by grace." With this personalistic view of salvation, Orthodoxy diverged from the juridical emphasis which the West inherited through Augustine of Hippo, whom Orthodoxy could not comfortably accept as a Doctor of the Church. Orthodox theology viewed man as called to know God and share his life, to be saved, not by God's external activity or by one's understanding of propositional truths, but by being himself deified.
In sum, the Byzantine period established Orthodoxy's greater mysticism, intuition, and corporatism in contrast to the West's philosophical, scholastic, and forensic orientation.
In the period after 1453 the two events which most influenced the evolution of Orthodoxy were the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the division of Western Christianity. Termination of imperial patronage increased the autonomy of the episcopacy and promoted the Russian contribution to the Orthodox heritage; Reformation theology made it possible for Orthodoxy to select from several alternative expressions of Christian doctrine. To be sure, these developments tended to place Orthodoxy on the defensive and cast it in the role of respondent rather than actor, in which it frequently appeared to be the reactionary wing of Christendom. Nevertheless, that Orthodoxy's vigor remained was evidenced in the writings of several theologians, and the ecumenism of the twentieth century has opened new possibilities for an Orthodox contribution to theology.
Melanchthon made the initial Protestant overture to Orthodoxy when he sent a Greek translation of the Augsburg Confession to Patriarch Joasaph of Constantinople, requesting that the latter find it a faithful rendition of Christian truth. His successor, Jeremiah, responded over twenty years later, condemning numerous Protestant "errors," including justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, rejection of icons and invocation of saints, Augustinian predestination, and filioque.
A quite different response to the Reformation came from the patriarch elected in 1620, Cyril Lucaris, who composed a confession which articulated an essentially Calvinist system. Cyril's work proved to be an aberration in the history of Orthodoxy; it was formally condemned after his death in 1638 by a synod in Jerusalem thirty - four years later. But it elicited two important statements of Orthodox doctrine. In the first, Russian leadership appeared when Metropolitan Peter Mogila of Kiev composed his confession, a thorough refutation of Cyril's, in affirmation of the received body of Orthodoxy. Mogila's work was approved, with amendments, by the Eastern patriarchs in 1643. The second was the confession of Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem, approved by the synod of 1672.
These two documents remained the standard definition of Orthodoxy in the modern period. They aligned Orthodoxy with the Catholic side in most of its chief doctrinal disputes with Reformed theology, e.g., the relation of tradition to Scripture, veneration of saints and images, number and meaning of sacraments, faith and works in salvation. On only two questions did they sympathize with Protestants: papal authority and canon of Scripture. Orthodoxy continued to resist both Protestants and Catholics in their mutual agreement on filioque and the Augustinian understanding of original sin. Orthodoxy rejects original sin; man is born mortal and therefore sins, instead of the other way around, as the West commonly states the matter.
But the significance of Orthodoxy's agreements with either Catholicism or Protestantism was more apparent than real inasmuch as the respective principles of authority differed fundamentally. For Orthodoxy, dogmatic authority remained rooted in the community of the church, represented by the episcopal succession from the apostles, not in the supremacy of the papacy nor in evangelical exegesis of Scripture, both of which to the Orthodox mind represented the domination of rationalism, legalism, and individualism over the true believing and worshipping fellowship of the faithful. To designate this community principle modern Russian theologians provided the definitive, but untranslatable, word sobornost' (approximately, "communion"). "Sobornost' is the soul of Orthodoxy," declared the nineteenth century lay theologian Alexis Khomiakov.
After the middle of the nineteenth century the most creative developments within Orthodoxy came from Russian writers, such as Vladimir Solovyev, Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergei Bulgakov, Georges Florvosky, and from professors of the Russian seminaries in Paris and New York, notably Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff. Their work is too recent for it to be incorporated into the essence of Orthodoxy, but it testifies to the continuing vitality of the tradition. These men have, each in his own way, worked actively for the reunification of Christendom. The burden of their ecumenical testimony has been that genuine unity can be achieved not on the basis of the least common denominator among Christian churches but in agreement upon the totality of the common tradition contained in the ecumenical councils and authentically preserved only by Orthodoxy.
P D Steeves
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
John of Damascus, Writings; G Maloney, A History of Orthodox Theology Since 1453; V Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church; J Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology; J Pelikan, The Christian Tradition III, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom; The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, N P N F , XIV; P Schaff, ed., The Creeds of Christendom, II, 445 - 542; A Schmemann, The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy; N Zernov, Eastern Christendom; K Ware, The Orthodox Way.
The technical name for the body of Christians who use the Byzantine Rite in various languages and are in union with the Patriarch of Constantinople but in schism with the Pope of Rome. The epithet Orthodox (orthodoxos), meaning "right believer", is, naturally, claimed by people of every religion. It is almost exactly a Greek form of the official title of the chief enemies of the Greeks, i.e. the Moslems (mu'min, fidelis). The Monophysite Armenians called themselves ughapar, meaning exactly the same thing.
How "Orthodox" became the proper name of the Eastern Church it is difficult to say. It was used at first, long before the schism of Photius, especially in the East, not with any idea of opposition against the West, but rather as the antithesis to the Eastern heretics - Nestorians and Monophysites. Gradually, although of course, both East and West always claimed both names, "Catholic" became the most common name for the original Church in the West, "Orthodox" in the East.
It would be very difficult to find the right name for this Church. "Eastern" is too vague, the Nestorians and Monophysites are Eastern Churches; "Schismatic" has the same disadvantage. "Greek" is really the least expressive of all. The Greek Church is only one, and a very small one, of the sixteen Churches that make up this vast communion. The millions of Russians, Bulgars, Rumanians, Arabs, and so on who belong to it are Greek in no sense at all. According to their common custom one may add the word "Eastern" to the title and speak of the Orthodox Eastern Church (he orthodoxos anatolike ekklesia).
The Orthodox, then, are the Christians in the East of Europe, in Egypt and Asia, who accept the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon (are therefore neither Nestorians nor Monophysites), but who, as the result of the schisms of Photius (ninth cent.) and Cerularius (eleventh cent.), are not in communion with the Catholic Church. There is no common authority obeyed by all, or rather it is only the authority of "Christ and the seven Ecumenical Synods" (from Nic√¶a I in 325, to Nic√¶a II in 787).
These sixteen Churches are: (1) The four Eastern patriarchates - Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem - and the Church of Cyprus, independent since the Council of Ephesus. (2) Since the great schism eleven new Churches have been added, all but one formed at the expense of the one vast Patriarchate of Constantinople. They are the six national churches of Russia, Greece, Servia, Montenegro, Rumania, and Bulgaria, four independent Churches in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, namely Carlovitz, Hermannstadt, Czernovitz, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and lastly the Church of Mount Sinai, consisting of one monastery separated from Jerusalem. One of these Churches, that of Bulgaria, is in schism with Constantinople since 1872. The total number of Orthodox Christians in the world is estimated variously as 95 to 100 millions. (See EASTERN CHURCHES; GREEK CHURCH; CONSTANTINOPLE, Heresy and Schism; RUSSIA.)
Publication information Written by Adrian Fortescue. Transcribed by Geoffrey K. Mondello, Ph.D.. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
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