Monthly Archives: May 2008

Orthodoxy [3]


Orthodoxy in Russia:

Various religious creeds peacefully coexist in Russia. There is no one predominant religion; none of them is under special protection of the state, though the majority of believers practice the Orthodoxy. The Orthodoxy in some parts of the world is certainly firstly associated with the Russians. The total number of Orthodox Christians in Russia amounts to 80 million people. Most of them belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, which exists in all the regions. In the Soviet period and especially in the years of Stalin’s repressions when atheism was the state policy the Orthodox Church was persecuted, churches and monasteries were abolished. An outstanding example is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow only recently completely rebuilt at the place of the old Cathedral.


Among the people of Russia there are also followers of traditional beliefs (for instance, shamanism). Their adherents are the majority of the believers of small Northern nations of Russia – Eskimos, Chukchas, Koryaks,.


Orthodox Eastern Church:

Community of Christian churches whose chief strength is in the Middle East and East Europe. Their members number over 250 million worldwide. The Orthodox agree doctrinally in accepting as ecumenical the first seven councils and in rejecting the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome (the pope). This repudiation of the papal claims is the principal point dividing the Orthodox from Roman Catholics. Eastern Christians who have returned to communion with the pope are called Eastern Catholics, or Uniates; in every respect apart from this obedience to Rome, they resemble their Orthodox counterparts. This use of the terms Catholic (obeying the pope) and Orthodox (belonging to one of the Orthodox churches) is not technical, for both groups call themselves both Catholic and Orthodox. The word Orthodox became current at the time of the defeat (753) of iconoclasm in Constantinople.


Orthodox acceptance of the seven councils resulted in the exclusion from their communion, on grounds of heresy, of the Nestorian, Jacobite, Coptic, and Armenian churches; it also involves holding a sacramental doctrine of grace ex opere operato and of veneration of the Virgin Mary, two points differentiating the Orthodox from Protestants.


Relations with Rome and the West

The relations between the Orthodox and the Western Church have been full of misunderstandings, which became grave as political and cultural ties loosened after the 5th century. There were breaks between Constantinople and Rome in the 9th century and in 1054, but the main obstacle to reconciliation was the conduct of the Crusades, especially the Fourth Crusade (when the Crusaders seized Constantinople), since the whole of Western Christendom, most of all the pope, was inevitably blamed. In 1274 there was an attempt at reunion (Second Council of Lyons), and in 1439 another; the second was repudiated (1472) by Constantinople. New attempts at reunion are being talked about, but this could take a few hundred years to achieve – if at all.