Orthodox Church

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The Eastern Orthodox Church is the Church that arose in parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East after the Great Schism in 1054 A.D. It is also known (especially in the contemporary West) as the Eastern Orthodox Churches or the Greek Orthodox Church. It is sometimes 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 Church.

The bishops of the Catholic and Eastern 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 Eastern Orthodox 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 papacy within the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Current Church structure

The Eastern Orthodox Church of today consists of a family of fourteen or fifteen autocephalous churches and five autonomous churches, sometimes referred to as jurisdictions. The number of autocephalous churches has varied in history. 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. It is hoped that the Great Schism, with the Catholic Church, will someday be mended too.

See: List of autocephalous and autonomous Churches

Number of Adherents

The most common estimates of the number of Orthodox Christians worldwide is approximately 225-300 million individuals.[1].

Other estimates such as in The Encyclopedia of the Developing World[2] places the number of overall Orthodox worshippers in 1996 at 182 million individuals, including the following breakdown:

  • Russian Federation: 70-80 million
  • Ukraine: close to 30 million
  • Romania: 20 million
  • Greece: 9.5 million
  • United States: close to 7 million
  • Serbia and Montenegro: close to 7 million
  • Bulgaria: 6 million
  • Belarus: 5 million
  • Kazakhstan: 4 million
  • Moldavia: 3 million
  • Georgia: 2.8 million
  • FYROM: 1.2 million
  • Uzbekistan: 900,000
  • Poland: 800,000
  • Germany: 550,000
  • Australia: 480,000
  • United Kingdom: 440,000
  • Latvia: 400,000
  • Estonia: 300,000
  • France: 260,000
  • Lithuania: 150,000
  • Austria: about 70,000
  • Switzerland: about 70,000
  • Finland: 56,000


  1. Eastern Orthodox Church: Number of Adherents at Wikipedia.
  2. Thomas M. Leonard. Encyclopedia of the Developing World: Vol 3, O-Z Index. Taylor & Francis, 2006.

See also

Further reading

Published works

The following are published writings that provide an introduction or overview of the Orthodox Church and its teachings:

From an Orthodox perspective

  • Alfeyev, Hilarion; Rose, Jessica, ed. The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church. (ISBN 0232524726)
  • Bajis, Jordan. Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian. (ISBN 0937032816)
  • Bulgakov, Sergius. The Orthodox Church. (ISBN 0881410519)
  • Cunningham, Mary. Faith in the Byzantine World (IVP Histories Series). (ISBN 0830823522)
  • Chryssavgis, John. Light Through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition (Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series). (ISBN 1570755485)
  • Coniaris, Anthony M. Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life. (ISBN 0937032255)
  • Constantelos, Demetrios J. Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church. (ISBN 0917653505)
  • Florovsky, George. Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View. (ISBN 0913124028)
  • Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church. (ISBN 0140146563)

From a Heterodox perspective

  • Binns, John. An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches. (ISBN 0521667380)
  • Fairbairn, Donald. Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes. (ISBN 0664224970)
  • Fortescue, Adrian. The Orthodox Eastern Church. (ISBN 0971598614)
  • Roberson, Ronald. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. (ISBN 8872103215) - (also available online)
  • Parry, Ken, ed.; Melling, David J., ed.; Brady, Dimitri, ed.; Griffith, Sidney Harrison, ed.; Healey, John F., ed. The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. (ISBN 0631232036)

External links

Overviews of the Orthodox Church

Byzantine Studies