|Autocephalous]]''' (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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