Autocephaly

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Autocephaly ( /ˌɔːtəˈsɛfəli/ ; from Greek : αὐτοκεφαλία, meaning "property of being self-headed") is the status of a hierarchical Christian Church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. The term is primarily used in Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. The status has been compared with that of the churches (provinces) within the Anglican Communion. [1]

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy is an important concept in a wide variety of fields, such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, organizational theory, systems theory, and the social sciences.

Christian Church term used to refer to the whole worldwide group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

Christian Church is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the Church invisible, and/or whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity. In this understanding, "Christian Church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions, however, believe that the term "Christian Church" or "Church" applies only to a specific concrete historic Christian institution, e.g. the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East).

Contents

Overview

In the first centuries of the history of the Christian church, the autocephalous status of a local church was promulgated by canons of the ecumenical councils. Thus, there developed the pentarchy, i.e. a model of ecclesiastical organization where the universal Church was governed by the primates (patriarchs) of the five major episcopal sees of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. [2] Additionally, the Church of Cyprus, previously within the Church of Antioch, was granted autocephaly by Canon VIII of the Council of Ephesus [3] and has since been governed by the Archbishop of Cyprus, who is not subject to any higher ecclesiastical authority.

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Pentarchy model of Church organization historically championed in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Pentarchy is a model of Church organization historically championed in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It found its fullest expression in the laws of Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire. In the model, the Christian church is governed by the heads (patriarchs) of the five major episcopal sees of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

Patriarch

The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church, and the Church of the East are termed patriarchs.

The right to grant autocephaly is nowadays a contested issue, the main opponents in the dispute being the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which claims this right as its prerogative, [4] [5] and the Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate), which insists that an already established autocephaly has the right to grant independence to a part thereof. [6] [7] Thus, the Orthodox Church in America was granted autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970, but this new status was not recognized by most patriarchates. [8] In the modern era the issue of autocephaly has been closely linked to the issue of self-determination and political independence of a nation, or a country; self-proclamation of autocephaly was normally followed by a long period of non-recognition and schism with the mother church.

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople autocephalous church of Eastern Orthodox Christianity

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the fifteen autocephalous churches that together compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, currently Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople.

Russian Orthodox Church autocephalous Orthodox Christian church, headquartered in Moscow, Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church, alternatively legally known as the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. The Primate of the ROC is the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'. The ROC, as well as the primate thereof, officially ranks fifth in the Orthodox order of precedence, immediately below the four ancient patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church, those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Since 15 October 2018, the ROC is not in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, having unilaterally severed ties in reaction to the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was finalised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 5 January 2019.

Orthodox Church in America Christian Orthodox-oriented denomination in America

The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is an Eastern Orthodox church, partly recognized as autocephalous, in North America. The OCA consists of more than 700 parishes, missions, communities, monasteries and institutions in the United States and Canada. In 2011, it had an estimated 84,900 members in the United States.

Modern-era historical precedents

Following the establishment of an independent Greece in 1832, the Greek government in 1833 unilaterally proclaimed the Orthodox church in the kingdom (until then within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) to be autocephalous. It was not until June 1850 that the Mother Church, under the Patriarch Anthimus IV, recognized this status. [9]

The London Conference of 1832 was an international conference convened to establish a stable government in Greece. Negotiations between the three Great Powers resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece under a Bavarian Prince. The decisions were ratified in the Treaty of Constantinople later that year. The treaty followed the Akkerman Convention which had previously recognized another territorial change in the Balkans, the suzerainty of Principality of Serbia.

Kingdom of Greece Kingdom in Southern Europe during the 19th and 20th century

The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 at the Convention of London by the Great Powers. It was internationally recognised by the Treaty of Constantinople, where it also secured full independence from the Ottoman Empire. This event also marked the birth of the first fully independent Greek state since the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in the mid-15th century.

Anthimus IV of Constantinople Was twice Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, between 1840 and 1841, and between 1848 and 1852

Anthimus IV, was twice Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, between 1840 and 1841, and between 1848 and 1852. He was born in Istanbul (Constantinople) and served as Chancellor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate before being elected Metropolitan of Ikonion (Konya) between 1825 and 1835, Larissa between 1835 and 1837, and Nikomedeia between 1837 and 1840.

In May 1872, the Bulgarian Exarchate, set up by the Ottoman government two years prior, broke away from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, following the start of the struggle for national self-determination. The Bulgarian Church was recognized as an autocephalous patriarchate in 1945, after decades of schism.

Bulgarian Exarchate

The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee

The Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee or BRCC was a Bulgarian revolutionary organisation founded in 1869 among the Bulgarian emigrant circles in Romania. The decisive influence for the establishment of the committee was exerted by the Svoboda newspaper which Lyuben Karavelov began to publish in the autumn of 1869. Some of the other revolutionaries who took active part in the formation and work of the BRCK were Panayot Hitov, Vasil Levski and Dimitar Tsenovich.

Following the Congress of Berlin (1878), which established Serbia's political independence, full ecclesiastical independence for the Metropolitanate of Belgrade was negotiated and recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1879. Additionally, in the course of the 1848 revolution, following the proclamation of the Serbian Vojvodina (Serbian Duchy) within the Austrian Empire in May 1848, the autocephalous Patriarchate of Karlovci was instituted by the Austrian government to be abolished in 1920, shortly after the dissolution of the Austria-Hungary in 1918 and Vojvodina being incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Patriarchate of Karlovci was merged into the newly united Serbian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Dimitrije residing in Belgrade, the capital of the new country that comprised all the Serb-populated lands. The united Serbian Church also incorporated the hitherto autonomous Church in Montenegro whose independence was formally abolished by Regent Alexander's decree in June 1920.

Congress of Berlin meeting of representatives of the major European powers in 1878

The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the representatives of six great powers of the time, the Ottoman Empire and four Balkan states. It aimed at determining the territories of the states in the Balkan peninsula following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 and came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin, which replaced the preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, signed three months earlier between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

Principality of Serbia 1804-1882 principality in Southeastern Europe

The Principality of Serbia was a semi-independent state in the Balkans that came into existence as a result of the Serbian Revolution, which lasted between 1804 and 1817. Its creation was negotiated first through an unwritten agreement between Miloš Obrenović, leader of the Second Serbian Uprising and Ottoman official Marashli Pasha. It was followed by the series of legal documents published by the Porte in 1828, 1829 and finally, 1830 — the Hatt-i Sharif. Its de facto independence ensued in 1867, following the expulsion of all Ottoman troops from the country; its independence was recognized internationally in 1878 by the Treaty of Berlin. In 1882 the country was elevated to the status of kingdom.

Metropolitanate of Belgrade

The Metropolitanate of Belgrade was a metropolitanate of the Serbian Orthodox Church that existed between 1831 and 1920, with jurisdiction over the territory of Principality and Kingdom of Serbia. It was formed in 1831, when Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople granted church autonomy to the Principality of Serbia. Territorial enlargement and full canonical autocephaly was gained in 1879. The Metropolitanate of Belgrade existed until 1920, when it was merged with Patriarchate of Karlovci and other Serbian ecclesiastical provinces to form the united Serbian Orthodox Church. The seat of the Metropolitanate was in Belgrade, Serbia.

The autocephalous status of the Romanian Church, legally mandated by the local authorities in 1865, was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1885, following the international recognition of the independence of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia (later Kingdom of Romania) in 1878. [10]

In late March 1917, following the abdication of the Russian tsar Nicholas II earlier that month and the establishment of the Special Transcaucasian Committee, the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in Georgia, then within the Russian Empire, unilaterally proclaimed independence of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which was not recognized by the Moscow Patriarchate until 1943 and by the Ecumenical Patriarchate until 1990. [11] [12] [13]

In September 1922, Albanian Orthodox clergy and laymen proclaimed autocephaly of the Church of Albania at the Great Congress in Berat. The church was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1937.

The independent Kiev Patriarchate was proclaimed in 1992, shortly after the proclamation of independence of Ukraine and the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, and remains condemned as schismatic by the Moscow Patriarchate, which claims jurisdiction over Ukraine, and unrecognized by the other Orthodox churches. In 2018, the problem of autocephaly in Ukraine became a fiercely contested issue and a part of the overall geopolitical confrontation between Russia and Ukraine as well as between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. [14] [15] [16]

Similar situation persists in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric remains canonically unrecognized since it split off from the Serbian Church and proclaimed autocephaly in 1967. The Serbian Church has the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric in the Republic of Macedonia.

Autonomy

One step short of autocephaly is autonomy . A church that is autonomous has its highest-ranking bishop, such as an archbishop or metropolitan, approved (or ordained) by the primate of the mother church, but is self-governing in all other respects. The modern Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow patriarchate) also has the so called "self-governing churches", such as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), in addition to churches that it refers to as "autonomous" such as the Japanese Orthodox Church, which until 2011 were not regarded as constituent part of the Moscow Patriarchate. [17]

Kephale (κεφαλή) means "head" in Greek, whereas nomos (νόμος) means "law";[ citation needed ] hence, autocephalous(αὐτοκέφαλος)[ citation needed ] denotes self-headed, [18] or a head unto itself, and autonomous denotes "self-legislated".

Autocephalous and autonomous churches

Simplified chart of autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox churches.

POC: Pan-Orthodox Council Organization of Autocephalus Eastern Orthodox Churches.pdf
Simplified chart of autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox churches.
POC: Pan-Orthodox Council

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Archbishopric of Ohrid, also known as the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid, originally called Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima and all Bulgaria, was an autonomous Orthodox Church under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1019 and 1767. It was established following the Byzantine conquest of the First Bulgarian Empire in 1018 by lowering the rank of the autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate due to its subjugation to Constantinople.

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church may refer to:

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Unification council of the Orthodox churches of Ukraine Ukrainian orthodoxy churches council

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Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

On 5 January 2019, Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, signed the tomos that officially recognized and established the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and granted it autocephaly (self-governorship). The events immediately leading to the grant of autocephaly were:

Reactions of the Eastern Orthodox churches to the 2018 Moscow–Constantinople schism

On 15 October 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church broke the communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate because of a dispute concerning the canonical jurisdiction over Ukraine. This led to the 2018 Moscow–Constantinople schism. Numerous Orthodox churches took position concerning the dispute over the canonical jurisdiction over Ukraine, whether before or after this schism.

References

Footnotes

  1. Avis 2016, p. 26; Gros, McManus & Riggs 1998, p. 176; Haselmayer 1948, p. 8; Lawrence 1963, p. 124.
  2. "Pentarchy" 2001.
  3. Schaff & Wace 1900, pp. 234–235.
  4. Erickson 1991.
  5. 1970 Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras on Autocephaly. / The letter of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of 24 June 1970 to Metropolitan Pimen, Locum Tenens of the Moscow Patriarchate, regarding the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America.
  6. Sanderson 2005, p. 144.
  7. Jillions, John (7 April 2016). "The Tomos of Autocephaly: Forty-Six Years Later". Orthodox Church in America. Archived from the original on 15 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  8. Hovorun 2017, pp. 82, 126; Sanderson 2005, pp. 130, 144.
  9. Karagiannēs 1997, p. 24.
  10. Hitchins 1994, p. 92.
  11. Grdzelidze 2010, p. 172; Grdzelidze 2012, p. 61.
  12. "Автокефалия на волне революции: Грузинское православие в орбите Российской церкви". Nezavisimaya Gazeta (in Russian). 15 March 2017.
  13. "Αἱ λοιπαί Αὐτοκέφαλοι Ἐκκλησίαι: Ἐκκλησία τῆς Γεωργίας" [Other Autocephalous Churches: Church of Georgia] (in Greek). Istanbul: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  14. "Ecumenical Patriarch Takes Moscow Down a Peg over Church Relations with Ukraine". LB.ua. Kiev: Gorshenin Institute. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  15. "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: 'As the Mother Church, It Is Reasonable to Desire the Restoration of Unity for the Divided Ecclesiastical Body in Ukraine'" (Press release). Istanbul: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  16. Satter, Raphael (27 August 2018). "Russian Cyberspies Spent Years Targeting Orthodox Clergy". Bloomberg News. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  17. "Определение Освященного Архиерейского Собора Русской Православной Церкви «О внесении изменений и дополнений в Устав Русской Православной Церкви»" (in Russian). Moscow: Russian Orthodox Church. 5 February 2011.
  18. Erickson 1999, p. 132.

Bibliography

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Erickson, John H. (1991). The Challenge of Our Past: Studies in Orthodox Canon Law and Church History. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN   978-0-88141-086-0.
 ———  (1999). Orthodox Christians in America: A Short History. New York: Oxford University Press (published 2010). ISBN   978-0-19-995132-1.
Grdzelidze, Tamara (2010). "The Orthodox Church of Georgia: Challenges Under Democracy and Freedom (1990–2009)". International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church. 10 (2–3): 160–175. doi:10.1080/1474225X.2010.487719. ISSN   1747-0234.
 ———  (2012). "The Georgian Tradition". In Casiday, Augustine (ed.). The Orthodox Christian World. Abingdon, England: Routledge. pp. 58–65. ISBN   978-0-415-45516-9.
Gros, Jeffrey; McManus, Eamon; Riggs, Ann (1998). Introduction to Ecumenism. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. ISBN   978-0-8091-3794-7.
Haselmayer, Louis A. (1948). Lambeth and Unity. New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co.
Hitchins, Keith (1994). Rumania 1866–1947. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hovorun, Cyril (2017). Scaffolds of the Church: Towards Poststructural Ecclesiology. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN   978-1-5326-0753-0.
Karagiannēs, Giōrgos (1997). Ekklēsia kai kratos, 1833–1997: Historikē episkopēsē tōn scheseōn tous (in Greek). Athens: "To Pontiki". ISBN   978-960-8402-49-2.
Lawrence, John (1963). "Anglicans and Orthodoxy". In Armstrong, A. H.; Fry, E. J. B. (eds.). Re-Discovering Eastern Christendom: Essays in Commemoration of Dom Bede Winslow. London: Darton Longman & Todd. pp. 119ff.
"Pentarchy". Encyclopædia Britannica . 2001. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
Sanderson, Charles Wegener (2005). Autocephaly as a Function of Institutional Stability and Organizational Change in the Eastern Orthodox Church (PhD diss.). College Park, Maryland: University of Maryland, College Park. hdl: 1903/2340 .
Schaff, Philip; Wace, Henry, eds. (1900). A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church . Series 2. Volume 14: The Seven Ecumenical Councils. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers (published 1995). ISBN   978-1-56563-130-4.

Further reading

"Autocephaly". OrthodoxWiki. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
Papakonstantinou, Christoporos (1999). "Autocephaly". In Fahlbusch, Erwin; Lochman, Jan Milič; Mbiti, John; Pelikan, Jaroslav; Vischer, Lukas; Bromiley, Geoffrey W.; Barrett, David B. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Christianity. 1. Translated by Bromiley, Geoffrey W. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 173. ISBN   978-0-8028-2413-4.
Shahan, Thomas J. (1907). "Autocephali"  . In Herbermann, Charles G.; Pace, Edward A.; Pallen, Condé B.; Shahan, Thomas J.; Wynne, John J. (eds.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 2. New York: Encyclopedia Press (published 1913). pp. 142–143.
Zhukovsky, Arkadii (1984). "Autocephaly". In Kubiyovych, Volodymyr (ed.). Encyclopedia of Ukraine. 1. Toronto: University of Toronto. pp. 141–142. ISBN   978-1-4426-3280-6.