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Greek Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox Church

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Published by Quo Primum

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Published by: Quo Primum on Jul 18, 2008
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Orthodox Church
The technical name for the body of Christians who use the Byzantine Rite in various languages and are in union with the Patriarch of Constantinople but in schism with thePope of Rome.  The epithet
), meaning "right believer", is, naturally, claimed by peopleof every religion. It is almost exactly a Greek form of the official title of the chief enemies of the Greeks, i.e. theMoslems(mu'min, fidelis). The Monophysite Armenians called themselves
, meaning exactly the same thing.How "Orthodox" became the proper name of the Eastern Church it is difficult to say. It wasused at first, long before the schism of Photius, especially in the East, not with any idea of opposition against the West, but rather as the antithesis to the Eastern heretics —   Nestorians  and Monophysites. Gradually, although of course, both East and West always claimed both names, "Catholic" became the most common name for the original Church in the West,"Orthodox" in the East.It would be very difficult to find the right name for this Church. "Eastern" is too vague, the Nestorians and Monophysites are Eastern Churches; "Schismatic" has the same disadvantage."Greek" is really the least expressive of all. The Greek Church is only one, and a very smallone, of the sixteen Churches that make up this vast communion. The millions of Russians,Bulgars, Rumanians, Arabs, and so on who belong to it are Greek in no sense at all. Accordingto their common custom one may add the word "Eastern" to the title and speak of the OrthodoxEastern Church (
he orthodoxos anatolike ekklesia
).The Orthodox, then, are theChristians in the East of Europe, in Egypt and Asia, who accept the Councils of EphesusandChalcedon(are therefore neither Nestorians nor Monophysites), but who, as the result of the schisms of Photius (ninth cent.) and Cerularius (eleventh cent.), arenot in communion with the Catholic Church. There is no common authority obeyed by all, or rather it is only the authority of "Christ and the seven Ecumenical Synods" (from Nicæa I in325, to Nicæa II in 787).These sixteen Churches are: (1) The four Eastern patriarchates — Constantinople, Alexandria,Antioch, Jerusalem — and the Church of Cyprus, independent since the Council of Ephesus.(2) Since the great schism eleven new Churches have been added, all but one formed at theexpense of the one vast Patriarchate of Constantinople. They are the six national churches of Russia, Greece, Servia, Montenegro, Rumania, and Bulgaria, four independent Churches in theAustro-Hungarian Monarchy, namely Carlovitz, Hermannstadt, Czernovitz, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and lastly the Church of Mount Sinai, consisting of one monastery separatedfrom Jerusalem. One of these Churches, that of Bulgaria, is in schism with Constantinoplesince 1872. The total number of Orthodox Christians in the world is estimated variously as 95to 100 millions. (See EASTERN CHURCHES; GREEK CHURCH; CONSTANTINOPLE,
 Heresy and Schism
; RUSSIA.)ADRIAN FORTESCUETranscribed by Geoffrey K. Mondello, Ph.D.
In the East, when a Church is spoken of, four things must be kept distinct: the race to which theadherents of the Church belong; the speech used in their everyday life, and in their publicdevotions; the ecclesiastical rite used in their liturgy, and their actual belief, Catholic or non-Catholic. It is because these distinctions have not been, and are not, even now, always observedthat a great confusion has arisen in the terminology of those who write or speak of the Eastern(Oriental) Churches and of the Greek Church. As a matter of fact, the usual significationattached to the words
 Eastern Churches
extends to all those Churches with a liturgical ritediffering from the Latin Rite. Let them reject the authority of the pope or accept it, they arenone the less Eastern Churches. Thus the Russian Church, separated from Rome, is an EasternChurch; in the same way the Greek Catholics who live in Italy, and are known as Italo-Greeks,make up an Eastern Church also. The expression
 Eastern Churches
is therefore the mostcomprehensive in use; it includes all believers who follow any of the six Eastern rites now inuse: the Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Maronite, and Coptic.What, then, do we mean when we speak of the Greek Church? -- Ordinarily we take it to meanall those Churches that use the Byzantine Rite, whether they are separated from Rome or incommunion with the pope, whether they are by race and speech Greek or Slavs, Rumanians,Georgians, etc. The term
Greek Church
is, therefore, peculiarly inappropriate, though mostcommonly employed. For instance, if we mean to designate the rite, the term Greek Church isinaccurate, since there is really no Greek Rite properly so called, but only the Byzantine Rite.If, on the other hand, we wish to designate the nationality of the believers in the Churchesfollowing the Byzantine Rite, we find that out of fifteen or twenty Churches which use thatrite, only three have any claim to be known as
The Greek Church
, viz., the Church of theHellenic Kingdom, the Church of Constantinople, the Church of Cyprus. Again, it must be borne in mind that in the Church of Constantinople there are included a number of Slavs,Rumanians, and Albanians who rightly refuse to be known as Greeks.The term
Orthodox Greek Church
, or even simply the
Orthodox Church
, designates, withoutdistinction of speech, or race, or nationality, all the existing Churches of the Byzantine Rite,separated from Rome. They claim to be a unit and to have the same body of doctrine, whichthey say was that of the primitive Church. As a matter of fact, the orthodoxy of these Churchesis what we call heterodoxy, since it rejects thePapal Infallibility, and the Papal Supremacy, thedogma of the Immaculate Conception,that of Purgatory, etc. However, by a polite fiction, educated Catholics give them the name of 
which they have usurped.The term
United Greek Church
is generally used to designate all the Churches of the ByzantineRite in communion with the See of Rome. Thus the Ruthenian Church of Galicia, theRumanian Church of Austria-Hungary, the Bulgarian Church of Turkish Bulgaria, the MelchiteChurch of Syria, the Georgian Church, the Italo-Greek Church, and the Church of the Greeksin Turkey or in the Hellenic Kingdom -- all of them Catholic -- are often called the UnitedGreek Churches. Again, the term is inappropriate, and belongs of right only to the last twoChurches. As a matter of fact the Ruthenians and Bulgarians are Slavs who follow theByzantine Rite, but use a Slavonic translation; whereas the Rumanians are Latins who followthe Byzantine Rite, but in a Rumanian translation, etc.Instead of 
United Greek Church
, the term
is often used; and in likemanner the word
is used instead of 
United Greeks
. These words are by no meanssynonymous.
Uniat Church
, or 
, has a much wider signification than
United Greek 
United Greeks
, and embraces all the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, but following another than the Latin rite, whether it be Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean,Maronite, or Coptic. The
Uniat Church
is therefore really synonymous with
 Eastern Churches united to Rome
, and
is synonymous with
 Eastern Christiansunited with Rome
The Greek Orthodox Churches are Churches separated from Rome and following theByzantine Rite, i. e. the rite developed at Constantinople between the fourth and tenthcenturies. In the beginning, the only language of this rite was Greek. Later, however (the exactdate is uncertain), it was introduced among the Georgians, or Iberians, of the Caucasus and wastranslated into the Georgian vernacular of the country. In the ninth century, through the effortsof Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples, the Moravians and the Bulgarians wereconverted toChristianity, and as the missionaries were Byzantines they introduced their ownrite, but translated the Liturgy into Slav, the mother tongue of those nations. From Bulgaria thisByzantine-Slav Rite spread among the Servians and the Russians. In recent times theByzantine Rite has been translated into Rumanian for use by the faithful of that nationality.Lastly, the Orthodox Syrians of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt have adopted a hybrid ByzantineRite in which, according to the whim of the celebrant, either Greek or Arabic is used. Hencewe have five divisions of the Byzantine Rite, and consequently five divisions of OrthodoxGreek Churches: --
(1) The Greek-Byzantine Rite,
which includes the pure Greeks subject(a) to the Patriarchate of Constantinople,(b) to the Holy Synod of Athens, and(c) to the Archbishopric of Cyprus.
(2) The Arabic-Byzantine Rite,
which includes theChristiansunder the Patriarchates of (a) Antioch,(b) Jerusalem,(c) Alexandria, and(d) the Archbishopric of Sinai.
(3) The Georgian-Byzantine Rite,
which, up to the beginning of the nineteenth century,included the Churches of the Caucasus Range now absorbed by the Russian Church andobliged to use the Slavonic Liturgy instead of their own native Georgian.
(4) The Slavonic-Byzantine Rite
, comprising(a) the Russian,(b) the Servian, and(c) the Bulgarian Churches.
(5) The Rumanian-Byzantine Rite,
used by the Rumanian Churches.
The First Five Centuries
 The Gospel, preached by the Apostles and by their disciples, who were converts from Judaism,spread first of all among the Jewish communities of the Roman Empire. These Jewishsettlements were mainly in the towns, and as a rule spoke the Greek tongue; and thus it came to pass that the earliestChristiancommunities were in the towns and used the Greek tongue intheir liturgical services. Gradually, however,Christianconverts from among the Gentiles began

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