Autocephaly]]''' ( literally "self- headed") is the status of a church within the [[ Orthodox Church]] whose [[ primate|primatial]] bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. When an [[ ecumenical council]] or a high-ranking [[ bishop]], such as a [[ patriarch]] or other [[ primate]], releases an ecclesiastical province from the authority of that bishop while the newly independent church remains in [[ full communion]] with the hierarchy to which it then ceases to belong, the council or primate is granting '''autocephaly'''. Historically, however, autocephaly is not always obtained in such a manner.
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