Church of Greece

The Church of Greece is one of the fourteen autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches which make up the Eastern Orthodox Communion. Today it is one of the most important autocephalous, or ecclesiastically independent, churches of the Eastern Orthodox communion. It was formerly a part of the Oecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, but was declared autocephalous in 1833 in an uncanonical decision under political pressure by adecision of the Bavarian Protestant Regents acting for King Otto, who was a minor. It was only recognized as such by the Patriarchate in 1850, under certain conditions with the issue of a special "Tomos" decree which brought it back to a normal status. As a result, it retains certain special links with the "Mother Church" .

Supreme authority is vested in the synod of all the diocesan bishops, who all have metropolitical status (the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece) under the presidency of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece. This synod deals with general church questions. The Standing Synod is under the same presidency, and consists of the Primate and 12 bishops, each serving for one term on a rotating basis and deals with details of administration. The church is organised into 81 dioceses; 30 of these, in northern Greece and in the major islands in the north and northeast Aegean, are nominally under the jurisdiction of Constantinople which retains certain privileges over and in them- for example their bishops have to acknowledge the Patriarch as their own primate during prayers . They are called "The New Lands" (Neai Chorai) and are represented by 6 out of the 12 bishops of the Standing Synod. The dioceses of Crete and the Dodecanese and the Monastic Republic of Holy Mount Athos are under the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and are not considered as part of the Church of Greece.

Graduates from church-run seminaries, may be ordained as deacons and eventually priests . They are allowed to marry before their ordination as deacons, but not afterwards. Alternatively they may enter monasteries and/or take monastic vows. If they possess a university degree in theology they become eligible as candidates to the episcopate. The Church, in recent years acquird its own radio stations and is also involved in some television work. A split occurred within the Church in 1923 when the Holy Synod decided to replace the Old Style Calendar (Julian) with the a modified New Style calendar (Gregorian). The schismatics are known as Old Style Calendarists (palaioimerologites in Greek) and still follow the Julian Calendar.

See also

List of Archbishops of Athens

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