Orthodox Church affirms it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ and his apostles, begun
at the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit in the year 33 A.D.
It is also known (especially in the contemporary West) as the Eastern Orthodox
Church or the Greek Orthodox Church. It may also be called the Orthodox
Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian Church, the one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, or simply the
bishops of the Orthodox Church trace unbroken succession to the very apostles
themselves, therefore ultimately receiving their consecrations from our Lord
Jesus Christ. All the bishops of the Church, no matter their titles, are equal
in their sacramental office. The various titles given to bishops are simply
administrative or honorific in their essence. At an ecumenical council, each
bishop may cast only one vote, whether he is the Ecumenical Patriarch or simply
an auxiliary bishop without a diocese. Thus, there is no equivalent to the Roman
Catholic papacy within the Orthodox Church.
with its Apostolic succession, the faith held by the Church is that which was
handed by Christ to the apostles. Nothing is added to or subtracted from that
deposit of faith which was "handed once for all to the saints" (Jude
3). Throughout history, various heresies have afflicted the Church, and at
those times the Church makes dogmatic pronouncements (especially at ecumenical
councils) delineating in new language what has always been believed by the Church,
thus preventing the spread of heresy and calling to repentance those who rend
asunder the Body of Christ. Its primary statement of faith is the
Orthodox Church of today consists of fourteen or fifteen autocephalous churches
and five autonomous churches, sometimes referred to as jurisdictions.
Autocephalous churches are fully self-governing in all they do, while
autonomous churches must have their primates confirmed by one of the
autocephalous churches, usually its mother church. All the Orthodox churches
remain in full communion with one another, sharing the same faith and praxis.
There have been occasional breaks in communion due to various problems
throughout history, but they generally remain brief and not developing into
full schism. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is also the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and has the status of "first among equals" among the
most common estimates of the number of Orthodox Christians worldwide is
approximately 225-300 million individuals.
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This very full LibGuide owes most of its content, decoration and arrangement to David Cassens, director of the Pius XII Library at St. Louis University, whose Eastern Orthodoxy LibGuide is used as a template here. Our thanks to David for his permission to use his inspiring work.