Church of Greece

Last updated
Church of Greece
Archdiocese of Athens emblem.svg
Seal of the Church of Greece
Orientation Greek Orthodoxy
Primate Ieronymos II of Athens
Bishops101
Priests8,515
Monastics3,541
Monasteries541
Language Greek
Headquarters Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens and Petraki Monastery, Athens
TerritoryGreece
Founder Saint Paul (tradition)
Independence1833
Recognition Autocephaly recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1850
Separations Greek Old Calendarists
(Orthodox Church of Greece) (1979)
Members10 million [1]
Official website ecclesia.gr

The Church of Greece (Greek : Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἑλλάδος, Ekklisía tis Elládos [ekliˈsia tis eˈlaðos] ), part of the wider Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the autocephalous churches which make up the communion of Orthodox Christianity. Its canonical territory is confined to the borders of Greece prior to the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 ("Old Greece"), with the rest of Greece (the "New Lands", Crete, and the Dodecanese) being subject to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, most of the dioceses of the Metropolises of the New Lands are de facto administered as part of the Church of Greece for practical reasons, under an agreement between the churches of Athens and Constantinople. The primate of the Church of Greece is the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.

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.

Greek Orthodox Church Orthodox Christian denominations descended from a Greek cultural tradition, Wikimedia disambiguation page

The name Greek Orthodox Church, or Greek Orthodoxy, is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the Septuagint and the New Testament, and whose history, traditions, and theology are rooted in the early Church Fathers and the culture of the Byzantine Empire. Greek Orthodox Christianity has also traditionally placed heavy emphasis and awarded high prestige to traditions of Eastern Orthodox monasticism and asceticism, with origins in Early Christianity in the Near East and in Byzantine Anatolia.

Autocephaly Christian hierarchical practice

Autocephaly 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.

Contents

Prevailing religion of Greece

Greek Orthodoxy is the prevailing religion of Greece, according to the constitution, emphasised by displays of the Greek flag and national emblem. Greek flags and emblem at church.jpg
Greek Orthodoxy is the prevailing religion of Greece, according to the constitution, emphasised by displays of the Greek flag and national emblem.

Adherence to the Orthodox Church was established as a definitive hallmark of Greek ethnic identity already in the first modern Greek constitution, the "Epidaurus Law" of 1822, during the Greek War of Independence. The preamble of all successive Greek constitutions simply states "In the name of the Holy, Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity", and the Orthodox Church of Christ is established as the "prevailing" religion of Greece.

The Greek Constitution of 1822 was a document adopted by the First National Assembly of Epidaurus on January 1, 1822. Formally it was the Provisional Regime of Greece, sometimes translated as Temporary Constitution of Greece. Considered to be the first constitution of Modern Greece, it was an attempt to achieve temporary governmental and military organisation until the future establishment of a national parliament.

All the indigenous inhabitants of the Greek Territory who believe in Christ are Greeks.

Greek War of Independence War of independence waged by Greek revolutionaries

The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution, was a successful war of independence waged by Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1830. The Greeks were later assisted by the Russian Empire, Great Britain, and the Kingdom of France, while the Ottomans were aided by their North African vassals, the eyalets of Egypt, Algeria, and Tripolitania, and the Beylik of Tunis.

Preamble introductory statement in a document that explains its purpose and underlying philosophy

A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subject of the statute. It is distinct from the long title or enacting formula of a law.

Mainstream Orthodox clergy's salaries and pensions are paid for by the State at rates comparable to those of teachers. The Church had previously compensated the State by a tax of 35% on ordinary revenues of the Church, but Law 3220/2004 in 2004 abolished this tax. By virtue of its status as the prevailing religion, the canon law of the Church is recognized by the Greek government in matters pertaining to church administration. This is governed by the "Constitution of the Church of Greece", which has been voted by Parliament into law. Religious marriages and baptisms are legally equivalent to their civil counterparts and the relevant certificates are issued by officiating clergy. All Greek Orthodox students in primary and secondary schools in Greece attend religious instruction. Liaisons between church and state are handled by the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs.

Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

Church hierarchy

The religious jurisdictions of the Church of Greece (in blue) in Greece ChurchInGreece.png
The religious jurisdictions of the Church of Greece (in blue) in Greece

Supreme authority is vested in the synod of all the diocesan bishops who have metropolitan status (the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, Greek: Ἱερὰ Σύνοδος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἙλλάδοςHierà Sýnodos tês Ekklēsías tês Helládos [ieˈra ˈsinoðos tis ekliˈsias tis eˈlaðos] ) under the de jure presidency of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece. This synod deals with general church questions. The Standing Synod is under the same presidency, and consists of the Primate and 12 bishops, each serving for one term on a rotating basis and deals with details of administration.

Metropolitan bishop ecclesiastical office

In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.

In law and government, de jure describes practices that are legally recognised, regardless whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, de facto describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally recognised. The terms are often used to contrast different scenarios: for a colloquial example, "I know that, de jure, this is supposed to be a parking lot, but now that the flood has left four feet of water here, it's a de facto swimming pool". To further explain, even if the signs around the flooded parking lot say "Parking Lot" it is "in fact" a swimming pool.

The church is organised into 81 dioceses. 36 of these, located in northern Greece and in the major islands in the north and northeast Aegean, are nominally and spiritually under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which retains certain privileges over and in them—for example, their bishops have to acknowledge the Patriarch as their own primate during prayers. They are called the "New Lands" (Νέαι Χώραι, or Néai Chōrai) as they became part of the modern Greek state only after the Balkan Wars, and are represented by 6 of the 12 bishops of the Standing Synod. A bishop elected to one of the Sees of the New Lands has to be confirmed by the Patriarch of Constantinople before assuming his duties. These dioceses are administered by the Church of Greece "in stewardship" and their bishops retain their right of appeal (the "ékklēton") to the Patriarch.

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople autocephalous church of Eastern Orthodox Christianity

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.

Balkan Wars Two wars on Balkan Peninsula 1912-1913, leading to the Balkan Crisis of 1914 and start of WWI

The Balkan Wars consisted of two conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula in 1912 and 1913. Four Balkan states defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first war. In the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria fought against all four original combatants of the first war along with facing a surprise attack from Romania from the north. The conflicts ended catastrophically for the Ottoman Empire, which lost the bulk of its territory in Europe. Austria-Hungary, although not a combatant, became relatively weaker as a much enlarged Serbia pushed for union of the South Slavic peoples. The war set the stage for the Balkan crisis of 1914 and thus served as a "prelude to the First World War".

The dioceses of Crete (Church of Crete) and the Dodecanese, and the Monastic state of Holy Mount Athos remain under the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; they are not part of the Church of Greece. The Archdiocese of Crete in particular enjoys semiautonomous status: new bishops are elected by the local Synod of incumbents, and the Archbishop is appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate from a three-person list (the triprósōpon) drawn by the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs from among the incumbent Metropolitans of Crete.

Crete The largest and most populous of the Greek islands

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. It bounds the southern border of the Aegean sea. Crete lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland. It has an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi) and a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi).

Church of Crete orthodox denomination on Crete in Greece

The Church of Crete is an Eastern Orthodox Church, comprising the island of Crete in Greece. The Church of Crete is semi-autonomous (self-governing) under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The current Archbishop of Crete is, since 30 August 2006, Irinaios Athanasiadis.

Dodecanese Former prefecture in South Aegean, Greece

The Dodecanese are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the wider Southern Sporades island group.

Clergy and monastics

As in other Orthodox Churches, male graduates of seminaries run by the church (and financed by the Greek State), may be ordained as deacons and eventually priests. They are allowed to marry before their ordination as deacons, but not afterwards. The vast majority of parish clergy in Greece are married. Alternatively, they may enter monasteries and/or take monastic vows. Monastics who are ordained as priests, and possess a university degree in theology, are eligible as candidates for the episcopate (archimandrites). Women may also take monastic vows and become nuns, but they are not ordained.

Monasteries are either affiliated to their local diocese, or directly to one of the Orthodox Patriarchates; in the latter case they are called "Stauropegiac" monasteries (Stayropēgiaká, "springs of the Cross").

Old Calendarists

A split (schism) occurred within the Church in 1924 when the Holy Synod decided to replace the Old Calendar (Julian) with a hybrid calendar—the so-called "Revised Julian Calendar"—which maintained a modified Julian dating method for Easter while adopting the Gregorian Calendar date for fixed feasts. Those who refused to adopt this change are known as Old Calendarists (palaioimerologites in Greek) and still follow the old Julian Calendar. They themselves have suffered several schisms, and not all Old Calendarists comprise one Church. They refer to themselves as "Genuine Orthodox Christians", and the largest group associating itself with the Old Calendarists is the Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos II Kioussis. This Synod has obtained government recognition as a valid Orthodox Church, although this is not in communion with the Church of Greece or the other Orthodox Churches.

History

Paul the Apostle delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens. Raphael, 1515 V&A - Raphael, St Paul Preaching in Athens (1515).jpg
Paul the Apostle delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens. Raphael, 1515
Dionysius the Areopagite, first bishop of Athens Dionysius Areopagita.jpeg
Dionysius the Areopagite, first bishop of Athens
Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens Metropole Athenon 3321.jpg
Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
St Andrew's Cathedral, Patras AgiosAndreas.jpg
St Andrew's Cathedral, Patras

Greece was an early center of Christianity. Upon formation of the Patriarchate, the Church was formerly a part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Under Ottoman rule, the Muslims had no control over the church. With the establishment of the Greek kingdom, however, the government decided to take control of the church, breaking away from the patriarch in Constantinople. The government declared the church to be autocephalous in 1833 in a political decision of the Bavarian Regents acting for King Otto, who was a minor. The decision roiled Greek politics for decades as royal authorities took increasing control. The new status was finally recognized as such by the Patriarchate in 1850, under compromise conditions with the issue of a special "Tomos" decree which brought it back to a normal status. As a result, it retains certain special links with the "Mother Church". There were only four bishops, and they had political roles. [2]

In 1833, Parliament dissolved 400 small monasteries having fewer than five monks or nuns. Priests were not salaried; in rural areas they were peasant farmers themselves, dependent for their livelihood on their farm work and from fees and offerings by parishioners. Their ecclesiastical duties were limited to administering the sacraments, supervising funerals, the blessings of crops, and exorcism. Few attended seminaries. By the 1840s, there was a nationwide revival, run by traveling preachers. The government arrested several and tried to shut down the revival, but it proved too powerful when the revivalists denounced three bishops for purchasing their office. By the 1880s the "Anaplasis" ("Regeneration") Movement led to renewed spiritual energy and enlightenment. It fought against the rationalistic and materialistic ideas that had seeped in from secular Western Europe. It promoted catechism schools, and circles for the study the Bible. [3]

Zoë movement

The 20th-century religious revival was led by the Zoë movement, which was founded in 1911. Based in Athens but operating in decentralized fashion, it reached a membership of laymen as well as some priests. The main activities include publications and the nationwide Sunday School movement in 7800 churches reaching 150,000 students. Zoë sponsored numerous auxiliaries and affiliated groups, including organizations for professional men, youth, parents, and young women nurses. A strong effort was made to circulate Bibles, illustrated novels, pamphlets, and other religious materials. A liturgical movement encouraged the laity to a greater awareness in the Eucharist, and more frequent Communion. [4] Seminaries were built in the 20th century, but most of the graduates entered teaching rather than parish work. In 1920, only 800 of Greece's 4500 priests had any education beyond the elementary level. By 1959, out of 7000 priests no more than five percent had completed university and seminary training. Monastic life declined sharply, although it continued at remote Mount Athos. Routine church life was highly disrupted by the Second World War and subsequent civil war, with many churches burned, and hundreds of priests and monks killed by the Germans on the one hand or the Communists on the other. [5]

Administration and Hierarchy of the Throne

Head of the Church of Greece and of the Holy Synod is Archbishop Ieronymos II (Ioannis Liapis), Archbishop of Athens and All Greece (2008–).

Metropolises and metropolitans of the Church of Greece

Notes
1 In 2010 the Metropolis of Attica was split into 2 new Metropolises, the Metropolis of Kifissia, Amaroussion and Oropos (temporary Vicar: the Metropolitan of Mesogeia) and the Metropolis of Ilion, Acharnes and Petroupolis (temporary Vicar: the Metropolitan of Megara)
2 The Metropolis of Trikke was separated from the Metropolis of Stagi (and Meteora) in 1981 but still bears the titular name "Trikke and Stagi"

Titular metropolises and metropolitans

Titular dioceses and bishops

Metropolises and metropolitans of the New Lands

(under the jurisdiction of Constantinople until 1928, then under Athens; except the Dodecanese)

See also

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References

  1. "Church of Greece". oikoumene.org. World Council of Churches. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  2. Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, II: The Nineteenth Century in Europe: The Protestant and Churches. (1959) 2: 479-481
  3. Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age (1959) 2: 481-83
  4. Demetrios J. Constantelos, The Zoë Movement in Greece," St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly (1959) vol 3 pp 1-15 online.
  5. Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age (1961) 4: 523-27
  6. el:Μητροπολίτης Λαρίσης και Τυρνάβου Ιγνάτιος

Bibliography


Further reading