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Autocephaly ( // ; 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.
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.Additionally, the Church of Lebanon previously within the Church of Antioch, was granted full autocephaly in 685 AD by Pope Sergius I, the Church of Cyprus, also previously within the Church of Antioch, was granted autocephaly by Canon VIII of the Council of Ephesus and has since been governed by the Archbishop of Cyprus, who is not subject to any higher ecclesiastical authority.
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,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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A similar situation persists in North 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 still maintains an autonomous Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric in North Macedonia, which is recognised by all other Orthodox churches as the country's canonical local church.
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.
Kephale (κεφαλή) means "head" in Greek, whereas nomos (νόμος) means "law";[ citation needed ] hence, autocephalous[ citation needed ] denotes self-headed, or a head unto itself, and autonomous denotes "self-legislated".
The Eastern Orthodox Church, like the Catholic Church, claims to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church, and the Church of the East are termed patriarchs.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the fourteen to sixteen autocephalous churches that together compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, currently Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople.
The history of Christianity in Ukraine dates back to the earliest centuries of the history of Christianity, to the Apostolic Age, with mission trips along the Black Sea and a legend of Saint Andrew even ascending the hills of Kiev. It has remained the dominant religion in the country since its acceptance in 988 by Vladimir the Great, who brought it from Byzantine Crimea and instated it as the state religion of medieval Kievan Rus' (Ruthenia), with the metropolitan see in Kiev.
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was one of the three major Orthodox churches in Ukraine. It was reestablished for the third time in 1990, right before the fall of the Soviet Union. The UAOC, in its contemporary form, has its origins in the Sobor of 1921 in Kiev, shortly after Ukraine's newly found independence. On 15 December 2018, at the Unification Council, the UAOC and the UOC-KP, along with metropolitans from the UOC-MP, unified into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Metropolitan Epiphany was elected as the new Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) was an organization of bishops from Eastern Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in the Americas. It acted as a clearinghouse for educational, charitable, and missionary work in the Americas. In 2010, it was replaced by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
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.
The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, commonly known as the Polish Orthodox Church, or (Orthodox) Church of Poland is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches in full communion. The church was established in 1924, to accommodate Orthodox Christians of Polish descent in the eastern part of the country, when Poland regained its independence after the First World War.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate is one of three major Orthodox churches in Ukraine with the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). On 15 December 2018, bishops and delegates from three branches of Orthodoxy in Ukraine unified at a council. During the council, Metropolitan Epiphanius I was elected Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine and became the primate of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Patriarch Filaret is the primate and Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate. He was the honorary Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (2018–2019), and the former Metropolitan of Kiev of the Russian Orthodox Church (1966–1992). He was defrocked and in 1997 excommunicated by the ROC.
The patriarch of All Bulgaria is the patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The patriarch is officially styled as Patriarch of All Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia. Patriarch Neophyte acceded to this position on 24 February 2013.
Ukrainian Orthodox Church may refer to:
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), or Ukrainian Orthodox Church, is a partially recognized autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church whose canonical territory is Ukraine.
The Moscow–Constantinople schism, also known as the Orthodox schism or Orthodox Church schism, is a schism which began on 15 October 2018 when the Russian Orthodox Church unilaterally severed full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This was done in response to a decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople of 11 October 2018.
In 1996 a schism between Moscow and Constantinople occurred; this schism began on 23 February 1996, when the Russian Orthodox Church severed full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and ended on 16 May 1996 when the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate reached an agreement.
The Unification council of the Eastern Orthodox churches of Ukraine is a council which was held on 15 December 2018 in the St Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev. The council voted to unite the existing Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox churches through their representatives, on the basis of complete canonical independence. All the members of the UOC-KP and the UAOC, and two members of the UOC-MP, merged into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the unification council elected Epiphanius I as its first primate.
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:
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.
A schism between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and part ofitsMetropolis of Kiev and all Rus' occurred between approximately 1467 and 1560. This schism supposedly de facto ended around 1560.