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Eastern Christianity


The Eastern Orthodox Church includes the following churches

  • Autocephalous Churches
    • The Church of Constantinople
    • The Church of Alexandria
    • The Church of Antioch
    • The Church of Jerusalem
    • The Church of Moscow
    • The Church of Georgia
    • The Church of Serbia
    • The Church of Romania
    • The Church of Bulgaria
    • The Church of Cyprus
    • The Church of Greece
    • The Church of Albania
    • The Church of Poland
    • The Church of Slovakia and the Czech Lands
    • The Orthodox Church in America
  • Autonomous Churches
    • The Church of Sinai (Jerusalem Patriarchate)
    • The Church of Finland (Ecumenical Patriarchate)
    • The Church of Japan (Moscow Patriarchate)
    • The Church of Ukraine (Moscow Patriarchate)
  • Exceptional churches generally considered to be orthodox in beliefs but otherwise not in communion with all of the above churches.
    • Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia - Talks underway to normalize status. (Unification with Russian Orthodox Church achieved May 17, 2007)
    • The Church of Ukraine (Kiev Patriarchate)
    • The Church of Macedonia

Most Eastern Orthodox are united in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, though unlike in the Roman Catholic Church, this is a looser connection rather than a top-down.

It is estimated that there are approximately 240 million Orthodox Christians in the world.1 Today, many adherents shun the term "Eastern" as denying the church's universal character. They refer to Eastern Orthodoxy simply as the Orthodox Church.

Eastern Catholic Churches

Main article: Eastern Catholic Churches

The twenty-two Eastern Catholic churches are all in communion with the Holy See at the Vatican, but are rooted in the theological and liturgical traditions of Eastern Christianity.

Many of these churches were originally part of one of the above families and are closely related to them by way of ethos and liturgical practice. As in the other Eastern churches, married men may become priests, and parish priests administer the mystery of confirmation to newborn infants immediately after baptism, via the rite of chrismation; the infants are then administered Holy Communion.

The Maronite Church always remained in communion with the Holy See, and thus does not have a counterpart among the non-Catholic Eastern churches. The (Italo-Albanian) Italo-Greek Catholic Church has also always remained in communion with the Holy See. Eastern Catholics form around two percent of the entire membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the Eastern Catholic churches re-established communion with Rome during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.

Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism

Ecumenical dialogue over the past 43 years since Pope Paul VI's meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I has awoken the nearly 1000-year hopes for Christian unity. Since the lifting of excommunications during the Paul VI and Athenagoras I meeting in Jerusalem there have been other significant meetings between the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The most recent meeting was between Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I, who signed the Common Declaration. It states "We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion'."

Dissenting movements

In addition to these four mainstream branches, there are a number of much smaller groups which, like Protestants, originated from disputes with the dominant tradition of their original areas, but are usually not referred to as Protestants because they lack historical ties to the Reformation, and usually lack a classically Protestant theology. Most of these are either part of the more traditional Old Believer movement, which arose from a schism within Russian Orthodoxy, or the more radical "Spiritual Christianity" movement. The latter includes a number of diverse "low-church" groups, from the Bible-centered Molokans to the Doukhobors to the self-mutilating Skoptsy. None of these groups are in communion with the mainstream churches listed above, aside from a few Old Believer parishes in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.

There are national dissidents, where ethnic groups want their own nation-church such as the Macedonian Orthodox Church and Montenegrin Orthodox Church; both domiciles of the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, it should be noted that in Macedonia, the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church is minimal to non-existent. The vast majority of Orthodox ethnic Macedonians view the Serbian Orthodox Church as hostile to Macedonian history, national interests, and self-determination.


The Eastern churches (except the non-liturgical dissenting bodies) each belong to one of several liturgical families:

  • Alexandrian Rite
  • Antiochene Rite
  • West Syrian Rite
  • Armenian Rite
  • Byzantine Rite
  • East Syrian Rite


  1. ↑ See details for Major religious groups.


  • Binns, John. An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches (Introduction to Religion). Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Harakas, Stanley H. The Orthodox Church; 455 Questions and Answers. Light and Life Publishing Company, 1988. ISBN 0-937032-56-5
  • Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, 1997. ISBN 0-14-014656-3

External links

All links retrieved September 26, 2017.