|Greek Orthodox Church|
|Primate||The Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and the Archbishops of Athens, Cyprus, Tirana and Mount Sinai|
|Headquarters||various, but Constantinople is held in special regard|
|Territory||Eastern Mediterranean & diaspora|
|Language||Koine Greek and Arabic, with other local languages used in the diaspora|
|Adherents||23–24 million (about 50% of whom are in Greece)|
The name Greek Orthodox Church (Monotonic Greek: Ελληνορθόδοξη Εκκλησία, Polytonic: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἑκκλησία, IPA: [elinorˈθoðoksi ekliˈsia]) is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament. Today, several of these Churches conduct their services in Arabic, the common language of most of their faithful, while at the same time maintaining elements of Greek cultural tradition. The current territory of the Greek Orthodox Churches more or less covers the areas in the Eastern Mediterranean that used to be a part of the Byzantine Empire. The origins of the Orthodox Church can be traced back to the churches which the Apostles founded in the Balkans and the Middle East during the first century A.D., and it maintains many traditions practiced in the ancient Church. Among these traditions are the use of incense, Liturgical Worship, Priesthood, making the sign of the cross, etc. Greek Orthodox Churches, unlike the Catholic Church, have no Bishopric head, such as a Pope, and hold the belief that Christ is the head of the Church. However, they are each governed by a committee of Bishops, called the Holy Synod, with one central Bishop holding the honorary title of "first among equals."
Greek Orthodox Churches are united with each other and with the other Orthodox Churches (i.e. the Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Bulgarian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and Georgian Orthodox churches) by a common doctrine and a common form of worship, and they see themselves not as separate Churches but as administrative units of one Church (the Orthodox Church). They are notable for their extensive tradition of iconography, for their veneration of the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and for their use of the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, which is a standardized worship service dating back to the fourth century A.D. in its current form. The Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church was written by Saint John Chrysostom (347–407 A.D.).
The churches where the Greek Orthodox term is applicable are:
- The four ancient Patriarchates:
- The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is also the "first among equals" of the Eastern Orthodox Communion
- The Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria
- The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
- The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
- The Orthodox Church of Mount Sinai
- Orthodox Church of Albania also known as "Greek Orthodox Church of Albania" led since the collapse of the former Stalinist régime by Archbishop Anastasios, a Greek national, the Church conducts its liturgy in Koine Greek in the areas of Albania populated by the ethnic Greek minority.
History of the term
Historically, the term Greek Orthodox has also been used to describe all Eastern Orthodox Churches, since "Greek" in "Greek Orthodox" can refer to the Greek heritage of the Byzantine Empire. During eight centuries of Christian history most major intellectual, cultural, and social developments in the Christian church took place within the Empire or in the sphere of its influence, thus most parts of the liturgy, traditions, and practices of the church of Constantinople were adopted by all, and still provide the basic patterns of contemporary Orthodoxy. However, the appellation "Greek" was abandoned by Slavic and other national orthodox churches in connection with their peoples' national awakenings, from as early as the 10th century A.D.
Seal of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Chiesa di S.Giorgio dei Greci in Venice, 1548
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Vienna, designed by Theophil Hansen, 1856
Cathedral of St Sophia (founded 1925), Sydney, Australia
Allerheiligenkirche in Munich, 1995
Agia Triada Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul
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