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List of autocephalous and autonomous churches

Map of the canonical territories of autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox jurisdictions ("churches"). Where a certain territory is disputed (either between two different churches or one church claims it as its territory while others consider it part of the diaspora), it is shown shaded. Click image to magnify.
The European section of the above map, in closer detail. Click image to magnify.

The autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox churches are those churches (i.e. jurisdictions) which have self-government. These jurisdictions are united in doctrine and worship, they recognize each other as canonical, they are in full communion, and together they constitute the Orthodox Church. The use of the term "churches" to refer to the various jurisdictions is informal; strictly speaking, they are just parts of the One Church, the Orthodox Church.

The fact that these jurisdictions are in full communion with each other means that they recognize each other as parts of the Orthodox Church. However, it does not necessarily mean that they agree about each other's precise rank or status within the Church. The autocephaly or autonomy of several bodies is disputed. This means that there is a disagreement about whether the bodies in question are self-governing or not. So, for example, some consider the Orthodox Church in America to be self-governing, while others consider it to be a part of the Church of Russia.

As a result, there are two ways to make a list of autocephalous and autonomous churches. The first way is to list only the jurisdictions that are universally recognized as self-governing. This may be called the "minimal list", and it is used in most inter-Orthodox gatherings. The second way is to list all those jurisdictions that are recognized as self-governing by at least one other jurisdiction.

Groups that are not in communion with the mainstream Orthodox Church, such as some of the Old Calendarists, are excluded from both versions of the list.

Minimal list

Expanded list

This is a list of churches that are recognized as autocephalous or autonomous by at least some of the others. They are also shown here in canonical order.

Autocephalous churches

It should be noted that in the diptychs of the Moscow Patriarchate and some of its daughter churches (e.g. the OCA), the ranking of four of the patriarchal churches is different. Following Moscow in rank is Georgia, then Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. The remainder of the rankings beginning with Cyprus is the same.

Autonomous churches

Former self-governing churches

These churches were formerly autocephalous or autonomous, but they are no longer Orthodox, or in some cases no longer exist.

Churches in schism

The following churches are in schism from the mainstream Orthodox Church. In other words, they are not in communion and not considered part of the Orthodox Church, although in most cases they maintain the same doctrine and the same practices.

See also


  • Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (ISBN 0631232036)
  • Fitzgerald, Thomas E. The Orthodox Church. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998, p. 151.
  • World Orthodox Churches, from the OCA website

External link