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Russian Orthodox Church


RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH . Vladimir I, grand prince of Kiev (9601015) was the first Christian ruler of Russia. Having sent ambassadors to investigate the religions of his day, Vladimir was persuaded to embrace Greek Christianity when, according to the Russian Primary Chronicle, his envoys reported that at the liturgy in Constantinople they did not know whether they were in heaven or on earth. Vladimir's marriage to the Byzantine princess Anna and his economic dealings with the empire also played a significant part in his decision to align his principality with the imperial Church of Byzantium. Vladimir was baptized in 988.

Kievan Christianity

After the baptism of the Kievan peoples by prince Vladimir, Orthodox Christianity flourished in the lands of Rus'. Before the Tatar devastations in the thirteenth century, Kiev was a cosmopolitan city with commercial and cultural ties with Europe and the East. Its spiritual center was the Kievan Monastery of the Caves founded by Anthony of Kiev (d. 1072) and Theodosius (d. 1074). The monastery provided the first literary and historical as well as religious writings in the Russian lands; for centuries it served as the theological and spiritual center of Russian church life. In the early years of Christian Kiev, several remarkable churches were constructed, such as the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia, 1037); these churches conformed to Byzantine patterns of architecture, iconography, and mosaic decoration. The leader of church life was the bishop of Kiev, often a Greek by nationality, who had the title metropolitan.

The city-republics of Novgorod and Pskov to the north also developed vibrant Christian societies after their conversions, boasting wonderful architectural and iconographic achievements that early began to show independence and originality. Spared attacks by the Tatars, these areas were threatened by crusading Christians from the West who desired to enforce Latin Christianity in the region. Grand Prince Aleksandr Nevskiy (d. 1263) led the Russians in their defeat of the invading Swedes (1240) and the Teutonic Knights (1242), thus preserving the Orthodox faith. He also managed to maintain peace with the Tatars through skillful diplomacy accomplished by extensive visits to the khans, to whom he paid homage and tribute.

Muscovite Christianity

After the devastation of Kiev by the Tatars in 1240, the center of Russian political and ecclesiastical life shifted to Moscow. The Muscovite princes succeeded in bringing the rival cities of the region into submission, and with the final defeat of the Tatars by Grand Prince Dmitri Donskoi in 1380, their city reigned supreme among the Russians. The ascendancy of Moscow could not have occurred without the efforts of church leaders, particularly the metropolitans, such as Alexis (d. 1378), who for a time served as governing regent, and the abbot Sergiy of Radonezh (d. 1392).

Sergiy is considered by many to be Russia's greatest saint and the "builder" of the nation. A simple monk who became famous for his ascetic labors and mystical gifts, he was appointed abbot of the Saint Sergius Trinity Monastery, which he founded in the wilderness north of Moscow. The monastery soon became the center of social and economic as well as religious and spiritual life in the region. Its members and their disciples provided Russia over the centuries with hundreds of bishops, abbots, missionaries, thinkers, artists, and secular leaders, many of whom were canonized saints of the church. One such figure was the monk-iconographer Andrei Rublev (c. 13601430), whose painting of the Trinity in the form of three angels who visited Abraham is among the great masterpieces of Russian art. Closed after the 1917 revolution, the monastery was reopened after World War II; it attracts thousands of pilgrims annually and houses the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary.

The Imperial Period

In the fifteenth century, with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453), the theory developed that Moscow was the "third Rome," the last center of true Christianity on earth. Job, the metropolitan of Moscow, was elected patriarch. This election was confirmed by Jeremias II of Constantinople in 1589, thus giving the Russian Church a status of self-governance and honor equal to that of the ancient patriarchates of the Christian empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The patriarchate existed in Russia de facto until 1700, de jure until 1721, when Peter the Great (16721725) issued the Ecclesiastical Regulation, which created a synodical form of church government patterned after that of the Protestant Churches of Europe. The patriarchate was restored to the Russian Church only in 1918, when the All-Russian Church Council, the first such assembly allowed since before Peter's rule, elected Tikhon Belavin (d. 1925), a former archbishop of the North American mission, to the office.

In the seventeenth century Patriarch Nikon (d. 1681) attempted to reform the Russian Church according to the practices of the Church of Constantinople. He corrected the liturgical service books and instituted Greek forms of ritual, such as the practice of making the sign of the cross with three fingers instead of two, as was the practice among the Russians. Nikon's reform was taken as an assault on the "third Rome" theory because it radically questioned any special calling of the Russian Church and nation. Its result was not only the resignation of the unyielding patriarch but the schism of great numbers of "old ritualists" from the established church.

During the time of the westernization of Russia under Peter the Great and subsequent czars, the Russian Church became the virtual captive of the state. The patriarchate was abolished and replaced by the Holy Synod, consisting of bishops, presbyters, and laypeople. Church councils were forbidden, ecclesiastical properties were appropriated and secularized, and church schools began to teach in Latin. The clergy were alienated from the people, particularly the intellectuals, and the church structure was bureaucratized, with the lay government official for ecclesiastical affairs, the Ober-procuror of the Holy Synod, at its head.

Latinization in the Ukraine

From the end of the fifteenth century the church in the Kievan area, by now a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom, was canonically attached to the patriarchate of Constantinople and not to Moscow. In 1596 in Brest-Litovsk, the metropolitan of Kiev signed an act of union with the Church of Rome, a move opposed by some bishops and most leading laypeople. Great numbers of believers in the territories of these bishops became Uniates at this time and, over the centuries, developed into strongly committed members of the Catholic Church. In the early twenty-first century the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Eastern Rite Churches remain staunchly anti-Russian and anti-Orthodox.

The defense of Eastern Orthodoxy during this period was led by the Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev, Petr Moghila (d. 1647). Though violently anti-Catholic, Petr was himself trained in the West and became responsible for bringing many Latin doctrines and liturgical practices into the Orthodox Church through his publications and the school he founded in Kiev, which influenced not only the whole Russian Church but the entire Orthodox world. In addition to the theological school in Kiev, higher faculties of theological study specializing in preparing missionaries for the Eastern regions were established in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Kazan.

Russian Missionary Activity

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the missionary efforts of the Russian Church were extensive. The Scriptures and services of the church were translated into many Siberian languages and Alaskan dialects as the eastern regions of the empire were settled and evangelized. Russian missionaries reached the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in 1794, thus beginning the history of Russian Orthodoxy in the New World. The monk Herman (d. 1830), a member of the original missionary party, was canonized a saint of the church in 1970 by both the Russian Church and the Orthodox Church in America. The latter, formerly the Russian missionary diocese in North America, was recognized in the same year by the Russian Church as the fifteenth autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Church in the world.

Joining Herman in the Orthodox calendar of saints were two other great missionaries. Innokentiy Veniaminov (d. 1879) was a young married priest who traveled extensively through Siberia and North America, reaching as far as San Francisco. He created several Alaskan alphabets, translated many texts, wrote many books, and converted countless people before becoming head of the Russian Church as metropolitan of Moscow, which post he occupied until his death. Nikolai Kasatkin (d. 1912) was the first Orthodox archbishop of Tokyo and the founder of the now autonomous Orthodox Church of Japan. In addition to contributing to the conversion of thousands, he translated Scriptures and services into Japanese and built the cathedral of Nikolai-Do in Tokyo.

Spiritual Revival of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also saw a revival of traditional Orthodox ascetical and mystical life, uninfluenced by the westernizing tendencies of the ecclesiastical institutions. Paisiy Velichkovskiy (d. 1794) brought the hesychast method of mystical prayer, rooted in the invocation of the name of Jesus, into the Ukraine and Russia from Mount Athos, an important monastic center in northern Greece. He translated into Church Slavonic many ancient texts, including the anthology of writings on the spiritual life by the church fathers titled the Philokalia (Dobrotoliubie). (Church Slavonic, the language created for the Slavs by the Greek brothers Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century, is still used liturgically in the Russian Church.) Bishop Feofan Govorov (d. 1894) translated into modern Russian many of the same works, including several contemporary Greek and Latin spiritual classics. Feofan also wrote many treatises on the spiritual life that continue to exercise wide influence in the Orthodox Church. He accomplished this task after retiring as bishop and spending twenty-five years as a monastic recluse. Another retired bishop canonized for his ascetic life and spiritual writings was Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), who inspired the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (18211881) to name after him a character in The Possessed.

During this same period there emerged in Russia a tradition of spiritual eldership (starchestvo ), the most famous center of which was the hermitage of Optina, where such elders (startsy ) as Leonid, Macarius, and Ambrose spent several hours each day instructing and counseling people of all classes, including many philosophers, intellectuals, and statespeople, among whom were Leo Tolstoy (18281910), Dostoevsky, Vladimir Soloviev (18531900), and Konstantine Leontiev (18311891).

The most famous saint of the time, however, was an elder from the Sarov monastery, the priest-monk Serafim (d. 1833), whose teachings on the Christian life understood as the "acquisition of the Holy Spirit" still have great influence among the Orthodox. Ioann of Kronstadt (d. 1908), a parish priest from the port town of Kronstadt near Saint Petersburg, also was acclaimed at this time throughout the nation as an "all-Russian pastor." He is glorified in the church as a man of prayer and preaching who called the people to spiritual and sacramental renewal on the eve of the Russian revolution, which both he and Serafim had predicted.

The beginning of the twentieth century also saw a revival of patristic studies and a recapturing of the authentic Orthodox theological and liturgical tradition in the ecclesiastical schools as well as a religious renaissance on the part of a significant number of Russian intellectuals, many of whom either perished in Joseph Stalin's prison camps, like Pavel Florenskiy (d. 1937), or who were exiled to the West. Among the latter group were the philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev (d. 1948) and the theologian Sergei Bulgakov (d. 1944), who served as dean of the émigré Russian Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Serge in Paris. The institute educated scores of pastors and church workers and sent scholars, such as George Fedotov (d. 1951), Georges Florovsky (d. 1979), Alexander Schmemann (d. 1983), and John Meyendorff (d. 1992), to Saint Vladimir's Seminary in New York.

The Era of Persecutions

When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in October 1917, one of the main points on their ideological program was the war against all manifestations of religion. This battle turned into full-fledged genocide in the 1920s and 1930s: the repressive wave of militant atheism spared nobodyneither bishops, priests, monks, nuns, nor laypeople. The bitter fate of persecuted clergy was shared by their wives and their children, who were declared "children of the enemies of the people" and placed in special boarding schools, where they were raised in an antireligious spirit. People from all religionsChristians (Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants), Muslims, Jews, and Buddhistssuffered equally from the persecutions. All of this took place while slogans of the struggle for freedom, equality, and fraternity, inherited from the French Revolution, were proclaimed.

The notion of freedom had a limited meaning when it came to religion. The Stalinist constitution of 1929 allowed the freedom to exercise a religious cult and to propagate atheism. It was therefore possible to promote only atheism, because the preaching of religion was officially forbidden. In practice mere membership in a church was seen as a threat to the entire Soviet society and almost inevitably led to dismissal from one's job and the loss of social status. In many cases, especially during the bloody 1920s and 1930s, to be a believer meant risking one's life and the lives of one's loved ones.

During the twenty years of revolutionary terror that began during Vladimir Lenin's (18701924) time and continued during the rule of Joseph Stalin (18791953), the church was almost totally annihilated. By 1939 all monasteries and theological schools were closed, and tens of thousands of churches were either blown up or shut down. Of the more than 60,000 prerevolutionary churches, only about a hundred remained open; of the more than 150 bishops serving before the revolution only 4 remained free. The overwhelming majority of the clergy and monastics (whose number before the revolution exceeded 200,000) were either shot to death or tortured in concentration camps.

The catastrophic course of combat at the beginning of World War II forced Stalin to mobilize all the national resources for defense, including the Russian Orthodox Church as the people's moral force. Some churches were opened for services, and some bishops and priests were released from prisons. The Russian Church did not limit itself to giving spiritual and moral support to the country in danger. It also rendered material aid by providing funds for all kinds of things, including army uniforms. This process, which can be described as a rapprochement between church and state in a "patriotic union," culminated in Stalin's receiving Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergiy (Stragorodsky) and Metropolitans Alexy (Simansky) and Nikolay (Yarushevich) at a meeting on September 4, 1943.

From that historic moment a thaw began in relations between church and state. Later in September 1943 in Moscow, with the permission of state authorities, a Bishops' Council convened and elected Metropolitan Sergiy (Stragorodsky) patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. His successor was Metropolitan Alexy (Simansky), elected patriarch in 1945. During and after World War II some theological schools and monasteries were reopened, and some churches were restored. The church, however, remained always under state control, and any attempts to spread its work outside its walls were met with strong rebuffs, including administrative sanctions.

The 1960s, when Nikita Khruschev (18941971) was in power, brought a new wave of repressions, when thousands of churches throughout the Soviet Union were closed "for ideological reasons." State control over the church affairs continued under Leonid Brezhnev (19061982), when Patriarch Pimen (19711990) was the primate of the church. One of the leading hierarchs of that time was Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad (d. 1978), who invested great efforts into the struggle for better understanding between the church and the state and greater independence of the former from the latter.

Until the end of the 1980s it was impossible to confess one's faith openly and at the same time occupy any more or less significant position in society. The entire activity of the church was under the strictest control of the authorities, the number of churches and clergy was severely regulated, and missionary, educational, and charitable work was forbidden.

In the last years of the Soviet era the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.S.R. had the legal right to hold church services in buildings authorized by the state for such purposes. A council of twenty laypeople was needed to petition for the use of a church. Because few churches and monasteries were functioning at that time, church services were normally crowded. The church had no right to teach, preach, or pray outside of these buildings, because "religious propaganda" was still expressly forbidden by Soviet law. Admission to the three operating theological schools was strictly monitored by the state. There were no church schools for children and laypeople, who received daily instruction in Marxist-Leninist doctrines with accompanying antireligious propaganda that was legally supported and officially enacted by the state.

Russian Orthodox Church in the Twenty-First Century

The situation changed drastically after the collapse of the Soviet regime. In the 1990s millions of people returned to their faith and were baptized, and thousands of churches, hundreds of monasteries, and dozens of theological schools were opened. The number of bishops more than doubled and by 2004 was approximately 150, and the number of priests and deacons and their parishes more than quadrupled and in 2004 stood at about 30,000. The growth statistics of monasteries and church educational institutions was particularly impressive: in 1988 there were eighteen monasteries in the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, and by 2004 there were over six hundred; and the number of theological schools during this period grew from three to approximately one hundred.

According to 2003 statistics, about 70 percent of Russians think of themselves as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. The majority of believers in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova belong to the Russian Church, and most Orthodox Christians in the Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) count themselves members of the Russian Church. The total number of faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church living in Russia, the above-mentioned countries, and elsewhere (particularly in western Europe) comprises over 150 million.

This unprecedented quantitative growth in the 1990s was accompanied by radical changes in the church's sociopolitical situation. After more than seventy years the church once again became an integral part of society in all the countreis of the former Soviet Union and was recognized as a highly authoritative spiritual and moral power. And after many centuries the church acquired the right to define independently its place in society and its relations with the state without any interference from secular authorities.

This change in the church's status required from it tremendous efforts in overcoming the "ghetto mentality" that had formed during the many years of forced isolation. Previously clergy had associated only with their parishioners, but now they had to confront a great number of people unfamiliar with the church's teaching and practices and whose knowledge of religion was either rudimentary or nonexistent. Previously priests did not preach outside the walls of their churches, but now they had opportunities to appear on television, on radio, and in print. Previously society and the church had followed their own separate courses, but now the church was drawn into society's discussions of the fundamental questions of human existence.

Ten years of intensive work in understanding and analyzing the contemporary issues were crowned with the adoption of a document titled The Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Bishops' Council of 2000. The significance of this document is conditioned by the fact that it reflects the church's position on questions involving church-state relations and contemporary society in general. The document is intended to serve as a spiritual and moral guide for the entire Russian Orthodox Churchnot just for the clergy but in no lesser way for the laity as well.

Church and State Relations

Orthodoxy was the state religion of Russia for many centuries, which meant the church not only enjoyed a respected position in society and a substantial income but also was totally dependent on the government. During the synodal period (17001917) the church was essentially part of the bureaucratic system; consequently its freedom was violated, and its activities were limited. During Soviet times it was even more enslaved to the state, and although the principle of separation of church and state had been proclaimed, it worked only in favor of the authorities: the church received nothing from the government, whereas the latter interfered in the affairs of the church and controlled its workings.

On account of the persecutions in the twentieth century, the Russian Orthodox Church, when it became free from government control, categorically declined to be associated with the government and to become a state church. In 2000 in the Bases of the Social Concept the church declared both its loyalty to and its independence from the state and reserved for itself the right, if necessary, of civil disobedience. Cases of such civil disobedience can be of either a personal or a general nature:

The Christian, following the will of his conscience, can refuse to fulfil the commands of state forcing him into grave sin. If the church and her holy authorities find it impossible to obey state laws and orders, after a due consideration of the problem, they may take the following action: enter into direct dialogue with the authorities on the problem, call upon the people to use democratic mechanisms to change the legislation or review the authority's decision, apply to international bodies and world public opinion and appeal to her faithful for peaceful civil disobedience.

The Bases of the Social Concept is the first document in the history of world Orthodox Christianity that includes an official statement on the possibility of disobedience to the state. The document also maintains that

the state should not interfere in the life of the church or her government, doctrine, liturgical life, spiritual guidance of her flock, etc., or the work of canonical church institutions in general, except for those aspects where the church is supposed to operate as a legal entity obliged to enter into certain relations with the state, its legislation and governmental agencies. The church expects that the state will respect her canonical norms and other internal statutes.

According to the Bases of the Social Concept, the Russian Orthodox Church can effect its participation in state affairs by cooperating in those areas that touch upon its sphere of interests, such as peacemaking at the international, interethnic, and civil levels, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation among peoples, nations, and states; concern for the moral state of society; spiritual, cultural, moral, and patriotic education; works of mercy and charity and the development of joint social programs; the protection, restoration, and development of the historical and cultural legacy, including the care of historical and cultural monuments; dialogue with organs of state government of any kind and at all levels on questions significant to the church and society, including those involving the creation of relevant legislation, decrees, and decisions; pastoral care for soldiers and law-enforcement personnel and their spiritual and moral education; crime prevention and pastoral care for prisoners; scholarship, including research in the area of humanities; health; culture and creative activities; the work of church and secular mass media; activities for the conservation of the environment; economic activity for the benefit of the church, state, and society; supporting the institution of the family, motherhood, and childhood; and opposing the activities of pseudo-religious organizations harmful for the individual and society.

Church Governance

The Russian Orthodox Church (which is also known officially as the Moscow Patriarchate) has a hierarchical structure of governance. The supreme bodies of church authority and governance are the Local Council, the Bishops' Council, and the Holy Synod, which is chaired by the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The Local Council consists of the bishops and representatives of the clergy, monastics, and laity. It interprets the teaching of the Orthodox Church, preserving the doctrinal and canonical unity with the local Orthodox Churches. It also deals with internal matters of church life, canonizes saints, elects the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and establishes the procedure of such elections.

The Bishops' Council, which is convened every four years, consists of the diocesan bishops and those assistant bishops who direct synodal departments and theological academies, or have canonical jurisdiction over parishes in their charge. The Bishops' Council is responsible for, among other things, preparation for convening a Local Council and monitoring the implementation of its decisions. It also adopts and amends the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church; resolves basic theological, canonical, liturgical, and pastoral issues; canonizes saints; adopts liturgical offices; gives competent interpretation to church regulations; expresses pastoral concern for contemporary problems; defines the nature of relations with governmental bodies; maintains relations with local Orthodox Churches; establishes, reorganizes, and dissolves self-governed churches, exarchates, dioceses, and synodal institutions; and approves ecclesiastical awards.

The Holy Synod, chaired by the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, is the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church between Bishops' Councils. It is convened several times a year. Apart from the patriarch, it includes seven permanent and five temporary members. The permanent members of the synod are the metropolitans of Kiev and All Ukraine, of Minsk and All Belorussia, of Kisineu and All Moldova, of Krutitsy and Kolomna, and of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga as well as the chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate and the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations. Temporary members of the Holy Synod are invited by rotation from among diocesan bishops to each session.

The patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is the first in honor among the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. He governs the Russian Orthodox Church together with the Holy Synod, which he chairs. The patriarch is elected by the Local Council from among those bishops who are at least forty years old; enjoy a good reputation and confidence among the bishops, clergy, and people; are higher theological school graduates; have sufficient experience of diocesan governance; are distinguished by their commitment to the canonical order; and "have a good report of them which are without" (1 Tm. 3:7). The patriarch is elected for life. In 2004 the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church was His Holiness Alexy II (Ridiger), patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who in 1990 succeded Patriarch Pimen.

The synodal institutions are executive bodies under the patriarch and the Holy Synod. There are a Department for External Church Relations, a Publishing Board, an Education Committee, a Department for Catechism and Religious Education, a Department for Charity and Social Service, a Mission Department, a Department for the Co-Operation with the Armed Forces and Law-Enforcement Bodies, and a Youth Department. The chancellery is also part of the Moscow Patriarchate with the status of synodal institution.

Internal Organization

The Russian Orthodox Church is divided into dioceses, which are local churches headed by a bishop and uniting diocesan institutions, deaneries, parishes, monasteries, church representations, theological educational institutions, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and missions. Some dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church are consolidated in exarchates. This consolidation is based on the national-regional principle. In 2004 the Russian Orthodox Church had the Byelorussian exarchate located in the Republic of Belarus and headed by the metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, patriarchal exarch for All Belarus.

The Moscow patriarchate incorporates autonomous and self-governed churches. Self-governed churches function on the basis of and within the limits provided by the patriarchal tomos issued by the decision of the Local Council or the Bishops' Council. In the early twenty-first century the self-governed are the Latvian Orthodox Church (primatethe metropolitan of Riga and All Latvia), the Orthodox Church of Moldova (primatethe metropolitan of Kishinev and All Moldova), and the Estonian Orthodox Church (primatethe metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia).

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a self-governed church with the right of broad autonomy. Its primate is the metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.

The three Russian Orthodox dioceses in the Republic of Kazakhstan are united into one metropolia headed by the metropolitan of Astana and Alma-Ata. The parishes in Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan belong to the diocese of Tashkent and Central Asia headed by the metropolitan of Tashkent and Central Asia.

The Russian Orthodox Church has eight dioceses "in the distant abroad": Argentine and South America, Berlin and Germany, Brussels and Belgium, Budapest and Hungary, the Hague and the Netherlands, Korsun (in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland), Sourozh (in the United Kingdom and Ireland), and Vienna and Austria. The patriarchal parishes in the United States and Canada are consolidated into deaneries governed by assistant bishops.

The Russian Orthodox Church has representations to the European Institutions in Brussels, to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, to the United Nations in New York, to the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Cairo, to the Patriarchate of Antioch in Damascus, to the Patriarchate of Serbia in Belgrade, to the Patriarchate of Bulgaria in Sofia, and to the Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia in Prague. The Russian Orthodox Church also has representations in Dusseldorff, Strasbourg, Bari, Dublin, and in some other cities as well as the ecclesiastical mission in Jerusalem.

The Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church are independent churches free in their internal affairs and linked with Universal Orthodoxy through the Russian Orthodox Church. The primate of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church is the archbishop of Tokyo, metropolitan of All Japan. The primate is elected by the Local Council of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church, and his nomination is approved by the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. In the early twenty-first century the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church consists of several communities of believers who because of political circumstances are deprived from permanent pastoral care.

The so-called Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is a self-governed metropolia headed by its first hierarch, the metropolitan of New York and Eastern America. It separated from the Moscow Patriarchate in the 1920s for political reasons. In the early twenty-first century it is not recognized as canonical either by the Moscow Patriarchate or by any other local Orthodox Church. However, the process of its rapprochement with the Moscow Patriarchate is underway, which may eventually lead to restoration of full communion between it and the world Orthodoxy.

See Also

Uniate Churches.


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