Oriental Orthodoxy

Oriental Orthodoxy[a] is the fourth largest communion of Christian churches, with about 76 million members worldwide. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and parts of the Middle East and India. An Eastern Christian communion of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, and its doctrines can be summarised in that the communion recognizes the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils.[5]

The Oriental Orthodox communion is composed of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.[6] Collectively, they consider themselves to be the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. Most member churches are part of the World Council of Churches. All member churches share a virtually identical theology, with the distinguishing feature being Miaphysitism. Three very different rites are practiced in the communion: the western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syrian Rite of the two Syriac churches, and the Alexandrian Rite of the Copts, Ethiopians and Eritreans.

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the Oriental Orthodox churches separated from the Imperial Roman Church, primarily over differences in Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy developed distinctively under the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt, originally part of the Pentarchy, and the only episcopal see besides the Holy See to maintain the title "Pope". The majority of Oriental Orthodox Christians live in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Armenia, with smaller Syriac communities living in the Middle East–decreasing due to persecution–and India. There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.

Oriental Orthodoxy
Christ and the Abbot Menas Louvre E11565 n02
TypeEastern Christian
TheologyMiaphysitism
PolityEpiscopal
StructureCommunion
Autocephalous
churches
LiturgyArmenian Rite, West Syrian Rite, Malankara Rite and Alexandrian Rite
FounderJesus Christ, according to Oriental tradition
Separated fromChalcedonian Christianity
Members76 million

Characteristics

The Oriental Orthodox churches are distinguished by their recognition of only the first three ecumenical councils during the period of the State church of the Roman Empire –the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and the Council of Ephesus in 431. Oriental Orthodoxy shares much theology and many ecclesiastical traditions with the Eastern Orthodox Church; these include a similar doctrine of salvation[7] and a tradition of collegiality between bishops, as well as reverence of the Theotokos and use of the Nicene Creed.[8]

The primary theological difference between the two communions is the differing Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy rejects the Chalcedonian Definition, and instead adopts the Miaphysite formula, believing that the human and divine natures of Christ are united. Historically, the early prelates of the Oriental Orthodox churches thought that the Chalcedonian Definition implied a possible repudiation of the Trinity or a concession to Nestorianism.

Other differences include minor deviations in social teaching and different views on ecumenism. Oriental Orthodox churches are generally considered to be more conservative with regard to social issues as well more enthusiastic about ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches.

The break in communion between the Imperial Roman and Oriental Orthodox churches did not occur suddenly, but rather gradually over 2-3 centuries following the Council of Chalcedon.[9] Eventually the two communions developed separate institutions, and the Oriental Orthodox did not participate in any of the later ecumenical councils.

The Oriental Orthodox churches maintain their own ancient apostolic succession.[10] The various churches are governed by holy synods, with a primus inter pares bishop serving as primate. The primates hold titles like patriarch, catholicos, and pope. Among these patriarchs, the Pope of Alexandria takes precedence, and is sometimes considered the "face" of Oriental Orthodoxy. The Alexandrian Patriarchate, along with Rome and Antioch, was one of the most prominent sees of the early Christian Church, and contains a majority population of Coptic Christians, and unlike Antioch is still a major population center.

That said, the Pope of Alexandria has no governing powers with respect to the non-Coptic churches. Oriental Orthodoxy does not have a magisterial leader like the Roman Catholic Church, nor does the communion have a leader who can convene ecumenical synods like the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Non-Chalcedonian Christology

The schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and the adherents of Chalcedonian Christianity was based on differences in Christology. The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, declared that Jesus Christ is God, that is to say, "consubstantial" with the Father. Later, the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, declared that Jesus Christ, though divine as well as human, is only one being, or person (hypostasis). Thus, the Council of Ephesus explicitly rejected Nestorianism, the Christological doctrine that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine (the Logos) and one human (Jesus), who happened to inhabit the same body. The churches that later became Oriental Orthodoxy were firmly anti-Nestorian, and therefore strongly supported the decisions made at Ephesus.

Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon reaffirmed the view that Jesus Christ was a single person, but at the same time declared that this one person existed "in two complete natures", one human and one divine. Those who opposed Chalcedon saw this as a concession to Nestorianism, or even as a conspiracy to convert the Church to Nestorianism by stealth. As a result, over the following decades, they gradually separated from communion with those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon, and formed the body that is today called Oriental Orthodoxy.

At times, Chalcedonian Christians have referred to the Oriental Orthodox as being Monophysites–that is to say, accusing them of following the teachings of Eutyches (c. 380 – c. 456), who argued that Jesus Christ was not human at all, but only divine. Monophysitism was condemned as heretical alongside Nestorianism, and to accuse a church of being Monophysite is to accuse it of falling into the opposite extreme from Nestorianism. However, the Oriental Orthodox themselves reject this description as inaccurate, having officially condemned the teachings of both Nestorius and Eutyches. They define themselves as Miaphysite instead, holding that Christ has one nature, but this nature is both human and divine.[11]

Today, the Oriental Orthodox churches are in full communion with each other, but not with the Eastern Orthodox Church or any other churches. Slow dialogue towards restoring communion between the two Orthodox groups began in the mid-20th century,[12] and dialogue is also underway between Oriental Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church and others.[13] In 2017, the mutual recognition of baptism was restored between the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Catholic Church.[14] Also baptism is mutually recognized between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church.[15][16]

History

Post Council of Chalcedon (451 AD)

The schism between the Oriental Orthodox and the rest of Christendom occurred in the 5th century. The separation resulted in part from the refusal of Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria and the other thirteen Egyptian bishops to accept the Christological dogmas promulgated by the Council of Chalcedon, which held that Jesus is in two natures: one divine and one human. They would accept only "of or from two natures" but not "in two natures".

To the hierarchs who would lead the Oriental Orthodox, the latter phrase was tantamount to accepting Nestorianism, which expressed itself in a terminology incompatible with their understanding of Christology. Nestorianism was understood as seeing Christ in two separate natures, human and divine, each with different actions and experiences; in contrast Cyril of Alexandria advocated the formula "One Nature of God the Incarnate Logos"[17] (or as others translate,[18] "One Incarnate Nature of the Word"), stressing the unity of the incarnation over all other considerations. It is not entirely clear that Nestorius himself was a Nestorian.

The Oriental Orthodox churches were therefore often called "Monophysite", although they reject this label, as it is associated with Eutychian Monophysitism; they prefer the term "Miaphysite". Oriental Orthodox churches reject what they consider to be the heretical Monophysite teachings of Apollinaris of Laodicea and Eutyches, the Dyophysite definition of the Council of Chalcedon and the Antiochene christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorius, Theodoret, and Ibas of Edessa.

Christology, although important, was not the only reason for the Alexandrian Church's refusal to accept the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon; political, ecclesiastical and imperial issues were hotly debated during that period.

In the years following Chalcedon the patriarchs of Constantinople intermittently remained in communion with the non-Chalcedonian Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch (see Henotikon), while Rome remained out of communion with the latter and in unstable communion with Constantinople. It was not until 518 that the new Byzantine Emperor, Justin I (who accepted Chalcedon), demanded that the Church in the Roman Empire accept the Council's decisions.[19]

Justin ordered the replacement of all non-Chalcedonian bishops, including the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. The extent of the influence of the Bishop of Rome in this demand has been a matter of debate. Justinian I also attempted to bring those monks who still rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon into communion with the greater church. The exact time of this event is unknown, but it is believed to have been between 535 and 548.

St Abraham of Farshut was summoned to Constantinople and he chose to bring with him four monks. Upon arrival, Justinian summoned them and informed them that they would either accept the decision of the Council or lose their positions. Abraham refused to entertain the idea. Theodora tried to persuade Justinian to change his mind, seemingly to no avail. Abraham himself stated in a letter to his monks that he preferred to remain in exile rather than subscribe to a faith which he believed to be contrary to that of Athanasius of Alexandria.

20th century

By the 20th century the Chalcedonian schism was not seen with the same importance, and from several meetings between the authorities of the Holy See and the Oriental Orthodoxy, reconciling declarations emerged in the common statement of Syriac Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and the Roman Pope John Paul II in 1984:

The confusions and schisms that occurred between their Churches in the later centuries, they realize today, in no way affect or touch the substance of their faith, since these arose only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter. Accordingly, we find today no real basis for the sad divisions and schisms that subsequently arose between us concerning the doctrine of Incarnation. In words and life we confess the true doctrine concerning Christ our Lord, notwithstanding the differences in interpretation of such a doctrine which arose at the time of the Council of Chalcedon.[20]

According to the canons of the Oriental Orthodox churches, the four bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch were all given status as patriarchs; in other words, the ancient apostolic centres of Christianity, by the First Council of Nicaea (predating the schism)—each of the four patriarchs was responsible for those bishops and churches within his own area of the Church. Thus, the Bishop of Rome has always been held by the others to be fully sovereign within his own area, as well as "first-among-equals", due to the traditional belief that the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred in Rome.

The technical reason for the schism was that the bishops of Rome and Constantinople excommunicated the non-Chalcedonian bishops in 451 for refusing to accept the "in two natures" teaching, thus declaring them to be out of communion.

The highest office in Oriental Orthodoxy is that of patriarch. There are patriarchs within the local Oriental Orthodox communities of the Coptic, Armenian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Syriac, and Indian (Malankara) Orthodox churches. The title of pope, as used by the leading bishop of the Coptic Church, has the meaning of "Father" and is not a jurisdictional title.

Geographical distribution

Oriental Orthodoxy by country
Distribution of Oriental Orthodox Christians in the world by country:
  Main religion (more than 75%)
  Main religion (50–75%)
  Important minority religion (20–50%)
  Important minority religion (5–20%)
  Minority religion (1–5%)
  Tiny minority religion (below 1%), but has local autocephaly

According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Oriental Orthodoxy is the Christian tradition "most important in terms of the number of faithful living in the Middle East", which, along with other Eastern Christian communions, represent an autochthonous Christian presence whose origins date further back than the birth and spread of Islam in the Middle East.[21] It is the dominant religion in Armenia (94%), the ethnically Armenian unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (95%)[22][23] and in Ethiopia (43%, the total Christian population being 62%), especially in two regions in Ethiopia: Amhara (82%) and Tigray (96%), as well as the capital city of Addis Ababa (75%).[24] It is also one of two dominant religions in Eritrea (50%).

It is a minority in Egypt (<20%),[25] Sudan (3–5%), Syria (2–3% out of the 10% of total Christians), Lebanon (10% of the 40% of Christians in Lebanon or 200,000 Armenians and members of the Church of the East) and Kerala, India (7% out of the 20% of total Christians in Kerala).[26] In terms of total number of members, the Ethiopian Church is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches, and is second among all Orthodox churches among Eastern and OrientalcChurches (exceeded in number only by the Russian Orthodox Church).

Also of particular importance are the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople in Turkey and the Armenian Apostolic Church of Iran. These Oriental Orthodox churches represent the largest Christian minority in both of these predominantly Muslim countries, Turkey[27] and Iran.[28]

Organization

Assouan cathedrale copte
Aswan Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Egypt
Coptic Orthodox pope, Syriac Orthodox patriarch, and Armenian Apostolic catholicos
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (centre) of the Coptic Orthodox Church receives Ignatius Aphrem II (left) Patriarch of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Aram I (right) Supreme Catholicose of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Lebanon.

The Oriental Orthodox communion is a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy which are all in full communion with each other. The communion comprises:

There are a number of churches considered non-canonical, but whose members and clergy may or may not be in communion with the greater Oriental Orthodox communion. Examples include the Celtic Orthodox Church, the Ancient British Church, and lately the British Orthodox Church. These organizations have passed in and out of official recognition, but members rarely face excommunication when recognition is ended. The primates of these churches are typically referred to as episcopi vagantes or vagantes in short.

Internal disputes

There are numerous ongoing internal disputes within the Oriental Orthodox churches. These disputes result in lesser or greater degrees of impaired communion.

Armenian Apostolic

The least divisive of these disputes is within the Armenian Apostolic Church, between the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia. The division of the two Catholicosates stemmed from frequent relocations of church headquarters due to political and military upheavals.

The division between the two sees intensified during the Soviet period. By some Western bishops and clergy the Holy See of Etchmiadzin was seen as a captive Communist puppet. Sympathizers of this established congregations independent of Etchmiadzin, declaring loyalty instead to the See based in Antelias in Lebanon. The division was formalized in 1956 when the Antelias (Cilician) See broke away from the Etchmiadzin See. Though recognising the supremacy of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the Catholicos of Cilicia administers the clergy and dioceses independently. The dispute, however, has not at all caused a breach in communion between the two churches.

Ethiopia

In 1992, following the abdication of Abune Merkorios and election of Abune Paulos, some Ethiopian Orthodox bishops in the United States maintained that the new election was invalid, and declared their independence from the Addis Ababa administration.[29]

India

Indians who follow the Oriental Orthodox faith belong to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. The church split in two churches were united before 1912 and again from 1958 after reconciliation efforts but again separated in 1975. The Malankara Orthodox also known as Indian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous church. It is headed by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church is an autonomous body of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India. It is headed by regional head Catholicos of India.

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church also follows the Oriental Orthodox tradition but not in communion with other Oriental Orthodox churches.

Occasional confusions

The Assyrian Church of the East is sometimes incorrectly described as an Oriental Orthodox church, though its origins lie in disputes that predated the Council of Chalcedon and it follows a different Christology from Oriental Orthodoxy. The historical Church of the East was the church of Greater Iran and declared itself separate from the state church of the Roman Empire in 424–27, years before Chalcedon. Theologically, the Church of the East was affiliated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, and thus rejected the Council of Ephesus, which declared Nestorianism heretical in 431. The Christology of the Oriental Orthodox churches in fact developed as a reaction against Nestorian Christology, which emphasizes the distinctness of the human and divine natures of Christ.

There are many overlapping ecclesiastical jurisdictions in India, mostly with a Syriac liturgical heritage centered in the state of Kerala. The autonomous Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, which comes under the Syriac Orthodox Church, is quite often confused with the autocephalous Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church as the similarity in their names.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Also known by several other names, including Old Oriental, Anti-Chalcedonian, Non-Chalcedonian, Pre-Chalcedonian, Miaphysite, or Monophysite Christianity [1][2][3][4]

References

  1. ^ Bradley, Jeremy; Media, Demand. "Difference Between Oriental & Eastern Orthodox Churches". Synonym.com. Demand Media. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Monophysite Christianity". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  4. ^ Frend, W.H.C. (2005). "Monophysitism". In Jones, Lindsay (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion. 9 (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Thomas Gale. pp. 6153–6155. ISBN 0-02-865742-X.
  5. ^ Hindson, Ed; Mitchell, Dan (2013). The Popular Encyclopedia of Church History. Harvest House Publishers. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7369-4806-7.
  6. ^ "Orthodox churches (Oriental) — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org.
  7. ^ "The Transfiguration: Our Past and Our Future". Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles.
  8. ^ "SMSV - Divine Liturgy, Sunday, October 1, 2017". October 1, 2017 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Chalcedonians". TheFreeDictionary. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Krikorian 2010, pp. 45, 128, 181, 194, 206.
  11. ^ Davis, SJ, Leo Donald (1990). The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology (Theology and Life Series 21). Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier/Liturgical Press. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-8146-5616-7.
  12. ^ "Middle Eastern Oriental Orthodox Common Declaration - March 17, 2001". sor.cua.edu.
  13. ^ "Dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East and its Effect on the Dialogue with the Roman Catholic". Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  14. ^ http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/april/documents/papa-francesco_20170428_egitto-tawadros-ii.html
  15. ^ "Agreed on baptism in Germany". www.churchtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  16. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Baptism". www.newadvent.org. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  17. ^ Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria (1999). "NATURE OF CHRIST" (PDF). http://www.copticchurch.net. St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church. Retrieved 30 November 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  18. ^ CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA; Pusey, P. E. (Trans.). "FROM HIS SECOND BOOK AGAINST THE WORDS OF THEODORE". The Tertullian Project. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  19. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope St. Hormisdas". www.newadvent.org.
  20. ^ From the common declaration of Pope John Paul II and HH Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, 23 June 23 1984.
  21. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion. "Christianity: Christianity in the Middle East" (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale. 2005. pp. 1672–1673.
  22. ^ UN Security Council resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
  23. ^ "Statement of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group". OSCE. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  24. ^ "Ethiopia: 2007 Census" (PDF).
  25. ^ "The World Factbook: Egypt". CIA. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  26. ^ "Church in India - Syrian Orthodox Church of India - Roman Catholic Church - Protestant Churches in India". Syrianchurch.org. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Foreign Ministry: 89,000 minorities live in Turkey". Today's Zaman. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  28. ^ "Ahmadinejad: Religious minorities live freely in Iran (PressTV, 24 Sep 2009)". Archived from the original on January 15, 2016.
  29. ^ Goldman, Ari L. (22 September 1992). "U.S. Branch Leaves Ethiopian Orthodox Church". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2016.

Bibliography

External links

Armenian Rite

The Armenian Rite is an independent liturgy used by both the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches. It is also the rite used by a significant number of Eastern Catholic Christians in Georgia.

Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus

The Cathedral of Saint George is a Syriac Orthodox cathedral located in Bab Tuma, central Damascus, Syria. It is the headquarters of the Syriac Orthodox Eparchy of Damascus, of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch, having acted as the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Church since 1959.

Christianity in Africa

Christianity in Africa began in Egypt in the middle of the 1st century. By the end of the 2nd century it had reached the region around Carthage. Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include Tertullian, Perpetua, Felicity, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo. In the 4th century the Aksumite empire was Christianized, the Nubian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia followed two centuries later.

The spread of Islam into North Africa reduced the size of Christian congregations as well as their number, so that of the original churches only the Eastern Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (which separated from each other during the Chalcedonian Schism) in Egypt and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Horn of Africa remained. The Ethiopian church held its own distinct religious customs and a unique canon of the Bible. The Ethiopian church community in the Horn of Africa wasn’t the product of European missionary work, rather, it had spread through missionaries much earlier.Christianity is embraced by the majority of the population in most Southern African, Southeast African, and Central African states and others in some parts of Horn of Africa and West Africa. The Coptic Christians make up a significant minority in Egypt. The World Book Encyclopedia has estimated that in 2002 Christians formed 40% of the continent's population, with Muslims forming 45%. In a relatively short time, Africa has gone from having a majority of followers of indigenous, traditional religions, to being predominantly a continent of Christians and Muslims. Since 2013, traditional African religions are declared as the majority religion only in Togo. Importantly, today within most self-declared Christian communities in Africa, there is significant and sustained syncretism with African Traditional Religious beliefs and practices.

Christianity in Azerbaijan

Christianity in Azerbaijan is a minority religion. Christians who estimated between 280,000-450,000 (3.1%-4.8%) are mostly Russian and Georgian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic (almost all Armenians live in the break-away unrecognized Republic of Artsakh). There is also a small Protestant Christian community most of them came from Muslim backgrounds.

Christianity in Denmark

Christianity is a prevalent religion in Denmark. Aside from Lutheranism, there is a small Catholic minority, as well as small Protestant denominations such as the Baptist Union of Denmark and the Reformed Synod of Denmark.

Denmark is today a very secular country, but has a culture that is heavily influenced by Christianity.

Christianity in Eritrea

Eritrea is a multi-religious country; Eritrea has two dominant religions Islam and Christianity.According to the United States Department of State (USDoS) estimated that 50% of the population was Christian, around 48% was Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 62.9% are followers of Christianity, mostly followers of Orthodox Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism and Eritrean Catholicism.Eritrea was one of the first Christian countries in the world having officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century. At the same time, it was the first Muslim settlements in Africa, where a group of Muslims facing persecution in Mecca travelled through modern day Eritrea. Christians in Eritrea constitute to three main groups; the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church. The Catholic dioceses in Eritrea are the Eparches of Asmara, Barentu, Keren and Segheneity. In 2002, Isaias Afewerki, the president of Eritrea, declared all independent Protestant Churches, enemies of the state. For this reason, more than 2000 independent Protestants are detained due to their faith.

Christianity in Europe

Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the first century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as other parts of the Roman Empire.

According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center, 76.2% of the European population identified themselves as Christians.As 2010 Catholics were the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than 48% of European Christians. The second-largest Christian group in Europe were the Orthodox, who made up 32% of European Christians. About 19% of European Christians were part of the Protestant tradition. Russia is the largest Christian country in Europe by population, followed by Germany and Italy.Since at least the legalization of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, Europe has been an important centre of Christian culture, even though the religion was inherited from Africa and the Middle East and important Christian communities have thrived outside Europe such as Oriental Orthodoxy and the Church of the East since the time of Christ. Christian culture has been an important force in Western civilization, influencing the course of philosophy, art, and science.Europe has a rich Christian culture, especially as numerous saints, martyrs and popes were European themselves. All of the Roman Catholic popes from 741 to 2013 were from Europe. Europe brought together many of the Christian holy sites and heritage and religious centers.

Christianity in Georgia (country)

Today 84% of the population in Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity, primarily the Georgian Orthodox Church. Of these, around 2% follow the Russian Orthodox Church, around 5.9% (almost all of whom are ethnic Armenians) follow the Armenian Apostolic Church and 0.8% are Catholics and are mainly found in the south of Georgia but with a small number in its capital, Tbilisi.

A Pew Center study about religion and education around the world in 2016, found that between the various Christian communities, Georgia ranks as the third highest nation in terms of Christians who obtain a university degree in institutions of higher education (57%).

Christianity in Syria

Christians in Syria make up about 10% of the population. The country's largest Christian denomination is the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch (known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East), closely followed by the Melkite Catholic Church, one of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which has a common root with the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch, and then by an Oriental Orthodoxy churches like Syriac Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolic Church. There are also a minority of Protestants and members of the Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church. The city of Aleppo is believed to have the largest number of Christians in Syria.

In the late Ottoman rule, a large percentage of Syrian Christians emigrated from Syria, especially after the bloody chain of events that targeted Christians in particular in 1840, the 1860 massacre, and the Assyrian genocide. According to historian Philip Hitti, approximately 900,000 Syrians arrived in the United States between 1899 and 1919 (more than 90% of them Christians). The Syrians referred include historical Syria or the Levant encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.

Damian of Alexandria

Not to be confused with Pope Damian of Alexandria, Coptic Pope in 569–605.Saint Damian was an Egyptian soldier and martyr.

French Coptic Orthodox Church

The French Coptic Orthodox Church (French: Métropole copte orthodoxe de France) is a Coptic Orthodox church centered in France. It is within the Oriental Orthodox tradition.

His Eminence

His Eminence (abbreviation "H.Em.", oral address Your Eminence or Most Reverend Eminence) is a style of reference for high nobility, still in use in various religious contexts.

History of Oriental Orthodoxy

Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the Council of Ephesus. They reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. Hence, these Churches are also called Old Oriental Churches or Non-Chalcedonian Churches.

Lazarus Saturday

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Mumbai Orthodox Diocese

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Oriental Orthodoxy in Egypt

Oriental Orthodoxy in Egypt represents Christians in Egypt who are adherents of Oriental Orthodoxy. In demographic terms, Oriental Orthodox Christians constitute the majority of Christians in Egypt.

The main denomination of Oriental Orthodoxy in Egypt is the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The seat of the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is currently occupied by Pope Tawadros II. Also, there are some 8.000 Oriental Orthodox Armenians in Egypt and some 500 Oriental Orthodox Christians of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Suffragan diocese

A suffragan diocese is one of the dioceses other than the metropolitan archdiocese that constitute an ecclesiastical province. It exists in some Christian denominations, in particular the Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In the Catholic Church, although such a diocese is governed by its own bishop or ordinary, who is the suffragan bishop, the metropolitan archbishop has in its regard certain rights and duties of oversight. He has no power of governance within a suffragan diocese, but has some limited rights and duties to intervene in cases of neglect by the authorities of the diocese itself.

Third Council of Ephesus

The Third Council of Ephesus was held in the Anatolian city of Ephesus in 475. It was presided over by Pope Timothy II of Alexandria, and also attended by Peter the Fuller, then Patriarch of Antioch, and Paul the Exarch of Ephesus. It ratified a recent Encyclical of Emperor Basiliscus, reportedly signed by 500-700 bishops throughout the Empire, which condemned the Council of Chalcedon and particularly the Tome of Leo. This council thus constitutes one of the most significant synodical condemnations of Chalcedon for the Oriental Orthodox. In response to the accusations of certain Chalcedonians that they, the Non-Chalcedonians, had adopted the erroneous teachings of Eutyches, the attendees of Ephesus III summarily anathematized all teachings which compromised the humanity of Christ, but without any explicite mention of Eutyches. Additionally, the council restored the complete autonomy of the Ecclesiastical Exarchate of Ephesus (corresponding to the civil Diocese of Asia), which had been compromised at Chalcedon by ascribing authority to the Patriarch of Constantinople over Thrace, Pontus, and Asia.

Oriental Orthodoxy
Autocephalous
churches
Autonomous
churches
Independent
churches
Liturgy

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