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autocephaly

Dan Lauffer

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Friends,

I've been trying to persuade some Protestant friends to become either Catholic or Orthodox. They seem hell bent on creating some independent non-denominational Church that would lead all Christians into a Spirit based union. Sound familiar? :p ::) Almost every Protestant group in existence has this "unique" mission statement.

Anyway, they asked about the principle of autocephaly. I referred them to a number of links but I have a few questions about it myself.

What kinds of standards does an autocephalic Church have to meet in order to gain recognition? Of course these Protestant friends of mine believe that they only need the permission of the Holy Spirit to run off and do whatever they wish, but they did ask the question.

Why is the autocephalic status sought and granted? I thought it hand something to do with geographic, political, or economic considerations until I ran across the many autocephalic Orthodox Churches in America. Now I suspect it has to do with how much money some of these Churches can contribute to those Orthodox Patriarchates that recognize their status. Please, tell me it aint so.

Any and all help will be appreciated.

Dan Lauffer
 

Serge

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My guess based on what I know about history is it works like this:

1. An Orthodox church sends missionaries to a new country, who eventually establish congregations and sees.

2. When the daughter church is well established, the church in the mother country grants it its independence. How the Church of Russia created the OCA.

3. Then that has to be acknowledged by everybody else in the Orthodox communion. Many Orthodox churches don't see the OCA as autocephalous (yet?) - they say it's still the American metropolia of the Church of Russia - but they do accept it as Orthodox.

Or, as in the cases of the Churches of Russia and Bulgaria:

Daughter church declares its independence, mother church declares it schismatic - this continues for years until mother church acknowledges the reality of the situation. ISTM this works when the daughter church is still recognized by other Orthodox churches, if not as autocephalous then at least as Orthodox. (This rules out Michael Denisenko's Ukrainian schism, the 'Kyiv Patriarchate' - Orthodox churches don't recognize it.)
 

Dan Lauffer

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Serge,

Thank you. Autocephalous would not be a category appreciated by Protestants. Many want no connection with anyone but all to connect with them. Their head, they say, is Christ as revealed in sola scriptura.

But now they have a clearer understanding of the principle. Cardinal Newman was of course correct.

Dan Lauffer
 

Elisha

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Serge said:
2. When the daughter church is well established, the church in the mother country grants it its independence. How the Church of Russia created the OCA.

3. Then that has to be acknowledged by everybody else in the Orthodox communion. Many Orthodox churches don't see the OCA as autocephalous (yet?) - they say it's still the American metropolia of the Church of Russia - but they do accept it as Orthodox.
2. This completely makes sense to me - very intuitive.

3. I thought the EP was the only one who doesn't recognize the OCA as autocephalous? If not, then which Churches don't recognize it?

And Dan, no there are not many autocephalous Orthodox Churches in America. The OCA is the only one AFAIK. The rest are just Archdioceses of foreign Churches (e.g. GOA under the EP and the AOCA (Antiochian) under the Patriarchate of Antioch/Damascus (stay tuned for further programming)).
 

Dan Lauffer

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Elisha,

What do you make of these?

Macedonian Orthodox Church

htthttp://www.ind-movement.org/lawsuit/bio_the_plaintiffs.html

Plaintiffs in a case in America

p://www.m-p-c.org/Avtokefalnost/avto-eng.htm

Defendant in a case in America

http://www.ind-movement.org/lawsuit/bio_this_defendant.html

Orthodox Church in Poland

http://www.uocc.ca/tomos.html

West Palm Beach, Fl

http://stmichaelacademy.org/synod.html

"Fr" Begonja. (And I always thought a begonja was a flower that thrived in the shadows and withered in the sunlight) ;)

http://www.ind-movement.org/

Dan L
 

Elisha

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Most likely schismactics. Just because some church group has 'orthodox' in their name, doesn't make them Orthodox. When in doubt, ask them who their bishop is. I think it is the responsibility of all Orthodox to know who the canonical Bishops are in their neck of the woods or whever they are traveling to.

There's some protestant church by the freeway that says (on the sign) Church of Christ of Antioch ( ::) whatever that's supposed to mean).
 

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Dan,

Please. You said initially "until I ran across the many autocephalic Orthodox Churches in America." The only Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the USA is the OCA. The GOA and the Antiochians enjoy some level of autonomy but not autocephaly.

Bringing into the picture non-canonical churches is really not helpful. There are plenty of those in the RC world as well. I have yet to see the SSPX compared to a sui juris EC Church? Why not, because it would be silly.
 

Serge

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I thought the EP was the only one who doesn't recognize the OCA as autocephalous? If not, then which Churches don't recognize it?
You may be right. But maybe the Patriarchate of Antioch doesn't either.

Dan,

Hello! Good to see you. I know you asked Elisha but the answer for all these is: except for the Orthodox Church of Poland*, they're not Orthodox. The Macedonian group comes close but it isn't accepted by any Orthodox church.

Tony Begonja AFAIK is a longtime vagante game-player and sort of a chronicler of the whole silly thing in America. Maybe he's a real minister in charge of a real congregation, which counts for something, but he's not Orthodox or Catholic (though the Catholic Church might accept his claim to priesthood as 'valid but illicit'). I can't tell if he's even under a vagante bishop - seems he's in some loosely federated denomination now.

The SSPX is neither one of those vagante fakes (it doesn't claim to be a separate church) nor is it like an Eastern Catholic group. I guess the closest analogy in Eastern Orthodoxy would be something like the Macedonian group or the Kyiv Patriarchate.

*Ukrainians and Byelorussians living in what is now Poland thanks to shifting borders.
 

Aristocles

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Dan,
1)The Macedonian Orthodox Church is a fairly recent attempt at establishing a 'national church' in the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).The Church of Serbia has not agreed to this. Hence, it is 'outside' Orthodoxy at this time.
2)The Orthodox Church of Poland is a canonical member of the communion.
3) The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, like the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is under the EP (as is ACROD, GOA, the Byelorusian Council and others here.)
4) The Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church, while presenting credentials on its website supporting its claims to its canonical nature and self-headed status, does seem a strange one. They are not in SCOBA now and one does wonder if they are not so because recognition of them by the EP would be tantamount to making them THE canonical jurisdiction in the USA (same argument here for the EP's not recognizing the OCA as autocephalous, I would think.)
5) ind-movement.org - interesting site but totally unoffocial and if I remember from reading it last year, prone to mistakes.
6) I'll check on the rest.
Demetri
 
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Historically, there are 15 autocephalous Orthodox churches worldwide, but again that depends who you talk to :)

The 4 ancient patriarchates: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem.

The other "new" patriarchates: Moscow/Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria.

Churches headed by Metropolitans (Slavic tradition) or Archbishops (Greek tradition) but not officially patriarchys: Greece, Poland, Albania, Czech Republic/Slovakia, Cyprus, America.

This list excludes some Orthodox churches (like ROCOR), which some (like me) have a hard time excluding!

America is the newest of these churches, being given autocephaly from Moscow in 1970. As above, some dispute its autocephaly. This leaves many of us Orthodox in great confusion!
 
H

Hypo-Ortho

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St Gregory Nazianazen, the ROCOR is technically a part of the Orthodox Church of Russia in "temporary" separation from its Mother Church with its own "Temporary Higher Admininstration," i.e., its Synod of Bishops. It has never claimed for itself nor has it been granted autocephaly, but it has acted autonomously since its inception.

Hypo-Ortho
 
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