A diaspora is a scattering of a people from their original homeland or the new community formed by such a people. Diaspora can also refer geographically to those areas of the world where Orthodox Christians live, but are outside the canonically defined territories agreed upon as belonging to an autocephalous or autonomous Orthodox church.
Some Orthodox peoples living in the West believe that they are living as dispersed peoples, as specific national and ecclesiastical "diasporas." The Church teaches that Christians, in full communion in faith, love, and sacramental life, should be at home in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the new land in which they find themselves. The notion of a diaspora of Orthodox Christians is seen by many as an obstacle to jurisdictional unity throughout areas as yet canonically undefined.
One of the major challenges of Orthodoxy in the diaspora is the existence of multiple overlapping jurisdictions, a phenomenon which is against the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, which requires that any given piece of canonical territory should only have a single bishop.
Overlapping jurisdictions currently exist in North and South America, Western Europe, East Asia, Australia, Oceania, and many Pacific islands, as well as Estonia.
Jurisdictions with parishes in the "diaspora"
The following Orthodox jurisdictions currently have "diaspora" parishes, i.e., parishes outside their traditionally defined canonical territory:
- Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (comprising the majority of all diaspora parishes)
- Patriarchate of Antioch
- Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- Patriarchate of Moscow (including the ROCOR)
- Patriarchate of Serbia
- Patriarchate of Romania
- Patriarchate of Bulgaria
- Church of Georgia
- Church of Poland
- Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
- Are We Living in Diaspora?, by Archbishop Peter (L'Huillier)
- Orthodoxy in America: Diaspora or Church?, by Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky
- "In the Diaspora", by Metropolitan Maximos, published in The Word, November 2004 (Antiochian)
- UK diocesan crisis tests Church's mission to all by Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky