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Relationships Between Local OO Churches

Bizzlebin

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I've been thinking about canon law outside the former Roman/Byzantine Empire and how that translates to differing hierarchical structures. Specifically, I'm wondering about the relationships between different local Churches. Since I know little dynamics, here are 3 basic questions:

1. Do any (or all) OO communions have some type of provincial system or other hierarchical grouping whereby one bishop is "first among equals" or in a semi-supervisory role over other nearby bishops?
2. Is there any appeal system for local or synodal verdicts, in any of the OO communions, and do any cross national/ethnic boundaries?
3. For missionary Churches that become largely independent (thinking more of first-millennium situations), does the new local Church have full "autocephaly" or is there some mandatory connection back to another Church (eg, when ordaining ruling bishops)?

Thanks!
 

tarms

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1. Do any (or all) OO communions have some type of provincial system or other hierarchical grouping whereby one bishop is "first among equals" or in a semi-supervisory role over other nearby bishops?
I could be wrong, but I am not aware of any such practice or system in the Armenian Apostolic Church.

2. Is there any appeal system for local or synodal verdicts, in any of the OO communions, and do any cross national/ethnic boundaries?
Within my own diocese, there are mechanisms in place whereby disputes, complaints, and suchlike can be adjudicated at the Parish Council, Parish Assembly, Parish Priest, Diocesan Assembly, and Primate levels. At none of these levels does adjudication go beyond the jurisdiction of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

3. For missionary Churches that become largely independent (thinking more of first-millennium situations), does the new local Church have full "autocephaly" or is there some mandatory connection back to another Church (eg, when ordaining ruling bishops)?
My understanding is that it was customary for the heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to be consecrated by the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church all the way until 1959, when Abuna Basilios was crowned the first Patriarch of Ethiopia. So there clearly was a long tradition of having the head of the church ordained by the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. If memory serves, it was especially because of political developments in the 19th and 20th centuries that saw many in the Ethiopian Church push for autocephaly.


The history of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is a bit more blurry to me. If I recall correctly, the Church in India was quite independent for some time, especially isolated due to distance. That changed with the Portuguese arrival in southern India in the 16th century. They established the Portuguese Inquisition and tried to Latinize the Malankara rite and forcibly bring the St. Thomas Christians into communion with Rome. That led to St. Thomas Christians reaching out to the Syriac Orthodox Church.


The rest of the history is a bit complex, with many different churches and groups involved. At any rate, the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church at the time, HH Ignatius Abdul Masih II, crowned HH Baselios Paulose I as the first Catholicos of the East, in 1912.


So, all this to say that it would seem that the general tradition has been to turn to the mother church when ordaining ruling bishops.


I hope that answers your questions, and that I didn’t make any errors. If I did, I welcome correction.
 

Samn!

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My understanding is that it was customary for the heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to be consecrated by the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church all the way until 1959, when Abuna Basilios was crowned the first Patriarch of Ethiopia.
Not only that, but the Abuna, who was almost always an Egyptian, was the only bishop in Ethiopia. A necessary step for Ethiopian autocephaly was the consecration by the Coptic pope of several Ethiopian bishops who then in turn elected their patriarch.
 

Dominika

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Not only that, but the Abuna, who was almost always an Egyptian, was the only bishop in Ethiopia. A necessary step for Ethiopian autocephaly was the consecration by the Coptic pope of several Ethiopian bishops who then in turn elected their patriarch.
Wow, that's interesting. So how they were managing to live without any other bishops in quite huge territory and with a lot of faithful?... Were there any choerpiscopes or something similar? Even liturgically it's interesting, as I suppose they had tot ake elemetns of pontifical servies or from the ones served with the Abuna or from Copts?..
 

tarms

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Wow, that's interesting. So how they were managing to live without any other bishops in quite huge territory and with a lot of faithful?... Were there any choerpiscopes or something similar? Even liturgically it's interesting, as I suppose they had tot ake elemetns of pontifical servies or from the ones served with the Abuna or from Copts?..
As I understand it, the exact history of the Ethiopian Church between the 7th and 13th centuries is not very well known as a consequence of Muslim invasions. The Church mainly fled to the highlands of Ethiopia for refuge and most contact was cut off. The few channels with the outside Christian world were the sending of a bishop ordained by the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem, and occasional pastoral letters from the Coptic Church sent to Ethiopia and Nubia. Apparently the Church was often even left without a metropolitan during these times.

I’m not sure about the specifics of how the Ethiopian Church survived during these times. There is a religious figure known as a debtera in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo churches that functions as something of a wandering holy man, singing hymns and performing exorcisms and suchlike. I imagine the debtera arose in part due to the isolation of the Church during these challenging periods.
 

Samn!

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So how they were managing to live without any other bishops in quite huge territory and with a lot of faithful?... Were there any choerpiscopes or something similar?
I think in practice, abbots of monasteries and the married clergy held a lot more power than in other Christian countries-- also because the Abuna rarely, if ever, spoke any of the local languages. I had to look it up, but it seems in the modern scholarly literature there's a debate over whether there were chorepiskopoi in medieval Ethiopia, with the consensus leaning-- entirely on circumstantial evidence-- to accept that there sometimes were. On the other hand, we have literary accounts of various Abunas performing mass ordinations of priests and deacons, so it seems that some things were really insanely centralized.
 

kijabeboy03

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The debtera are essentially cantors, it is the lay/folk religion roles they take in some regions that diverge from Orthodoxy in other countries. (Perhaps due to the long years of little hierarchical oversight under the Copts?) Most debtera sing the responses, play the sistra and drums when they're called for, and dance (when appropriate) during the services and at big festivals.

As I understand it, the exact history of the Ethiopian Church between the 7th and 13th centuries is not very well known as a consequence of Muslim invasions. The Church mainly fled to the highlands of Ethiopia for refuge and most contact was cut off. The few channels with the outside Christian world were the sending of a bishop ordained by the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem, and occasional pastoral letters from the Coptic Church sent to Ethiopia and Nubia. Apparently the Church was often even left without a metropolitan during these times.

I’m not sure about the specifics of how the Ethiopian Church survived during these times. There is a religious figure known as a debtera in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo churches that functions as something of a wandering holy man, singing hymns and performing exorcisms and suchlike. I imagine the debtera arose in part due to the isolation of the Church during these challenging periods.
 

kijabeboy03

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"Abune" is a title for any Ethiopian/Eritrean Orthodox bishop, it just means "our father" in Gi'iz. The ruling bishop prior to autocephaly was the Metropolitan of Axum.

Not only that, but the Abuna, who was almost always an Egyptian, was the only bishop in Ethiopia. A necessary step for Ethiopian autocephaly was the consecration by the Coptic pope of several Ethiopian bishops who then in turn elected their patriarch.

If I remember the history correctly there were times when the Copts would send two bishops to care for the Church of Ethiopia, but I don't recall it being clear whether the second bishop would serve as an auxiliary to the Metropolitan of Axum or be consecrated a ruling bishop in his own right. What is clear through the centuries is that the Copts were careful to never to send more than two bishops at a time - in their canon law three bishops could form a synod and consecrate bishops independently, and though various Ethiopian emperors pushed for this off and on through the years it was never allowed by the Egyptians.

And yes, oftentimes when a new metropolitan would arrive he would mass ordain clergy. The priesthood and diaconate generally passed down through clergy families that trained their children in memorizing the psalter, services, et cetera, and in how to serve, so in a sense it was immaterial whether they were ordained at 14 or 40, and for the country as a whole it was very material indeed as it occasionally took decades for a new metropolitan to be chosen and sent.

Administratively a lot of authority rested with the emperor (as in other independent Orthodox nations) and later also with the ichegé, the abbot of Debre Libanos Monastery who eventually came to be the administrator of the entire church. I'm not sure how things worked prior to the rise of Debre Libanos, but for a good few hundred years the Church of Ethiopia was actually run by the ichegé, the metropolitan was just there to serve and ordain people. How centralized everything was is questionable, and period-dependent. Even during very centralized eras, however, local kings, nobles, and branches of the imperial family still had a lot sway. It wasn't until Haile Silasé's reign that church life (and Ethiopian life generally) became much more centrally organized and directed.

I think in practice, abbots of monasteries and the married clergy held a lot more power than in other Christian countries-- also because the Abuna rarely, if ever, spoke any of the local languages. I had to look it up, but it seems in the modern scholarly literature there's a debate over whether there were chorepiskopoi in medieval Ethiopia, with the consensus leaning-- entirely on circumstantial evidence-- to accept that there sometimes were. On the other hand, we have literary accounts of various Abunas performing mass ordinations of priests and deacons, so it seems that some things were really insanely centralized.
 

Samn!

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"Abune" is a title for any Ethiopian/Eritrean Orthodox bishop, it just means "our father" in Gi'iz.
Right, but when there was only one bishop, the title only applied to one person. This is how he's referred to in all the historical literature.
 

kijabeboy03

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...in English. And since we don't live in history or in ignorance that it is an honorific, it seems a little strange to keep using it that way.

Right, but when there was only one bishop, the title only applied to one person. This is how he's referred to in all the historical literature.
 

Samn!

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And since we don't live in history or in ignorance that it is an honorific, it seems a little strange to keep using it that way.
It's normal to use historical terms when talking about historical institutions.
 

kijabeboy03

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It's an existing institution, in two churches even now that the Greeks have found their way there :)

It's normal to use historical terms when talking about historical institutions.
 

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I found copies of the protocols of autocephaly for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches.

Ethiopian: https://web.archive.org/web/2017031...nd-the-Ethiopian-Orthodox-Tewahedo-Church.pdf
Eritrean: https://web.archive.org/web/2018032...ahdoChurch/Protocol_betwenCopt-EriChurch.html

Apparently, they are supposed to hold joint synods every three years but I am assuming this was disrupted due to internal schisms and political intrusions.

The Ethiopian schism had just healed and the Eritrean Patriarch had just visited Egypt. Maybe a joint synod between the three churches nears.
 
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