Orthodox Christian Societies

Philip Walters

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Orthodox Christian Societies

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Though there are members of Orthodox communions found around the world, all of the branches can be traced back to the great split between Western and Eastern Christianity, between Roman Catholic and Orthodox, which became permanent in 1054 CE. Instead of retaining one spiritual leader and a single organization as did the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox community developed as a system of sister-churches. Those that are fully independent are called “autocephalous.” The Macedonian Orthodox Church regards itself as autocephalous but is not recognized as such by any other Orthodox church. As a result of large-scale emigration from the 1920s onward, particularly by Greeks and Russians, there are now, for example, about 300,000 Orthodox in Britain and some 3.5 million in the United States. This article describes Orthodox Christian societies and examines autocephaly among the Orthodox churches, along with their organization. It also discusses the Western border of the Orthodox world in Europe as well as the subdivisions, schisms, and movements experienced by some Orthodox churches; Orthodoxy and politics; and Orthodoxy and cultural identity.

Keywords: Orthodoxy; Christianity; Orthodox churches; Europe; autocephaly; schisms; politics; cultural identity; Roman Catholic Church

Article.  4297 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Christianity

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