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Orthodoxy is a major branch of Christianity, represented by the Eastern Orthodox Church, with an unbroken continuity to the apostolic tradition and a claim to curry the authentic Christian faith and practice. The term Orthodoxy (from the Greek orthe doxa), meaning both right faith and right worship, developed and came to usage during the fourth and fifth centuries in order to distinguish and protect the faith of the Church from a variety of heretical movements, Arianism and Nestorianism in particular. The early ecumenical councils produced the formal creeds of the Church and consolidated the notion of Orthodoxy which was Greek based and took a different theological and cultural ethos from the western church which was Latin based, the two churches eventually separating (1054).
Today, the Orthodox Church consists of the ancient patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antiochia, Jerusalem) and various national autocephalous Churches. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, also called Ecumenical, enjoys the primacy of honor among the other patriarchates and the rest of the Orthodox Churches without any administrative or other jurisdiction over them. The churches of Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia carry patriarchal status – being led by patriarchs. The Churches of Greece, Cyprus, and Albania are led by archbishops. There are also the smaller churches of Poland, Finland, and former Czechoslovakia, also led by archbishops. The Greek Orthodox diaspora in America, Europe, and Australia is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox diaspora everywhere is under the jurisdiction of the patriarchate of Moscow.
The Orthodox Churches are held together and are in communion with each other through common doctrine and practice of the sacraments. In all, the Orthodox populations (practicing in the broad sense) in the world today are estimated at around 180 million. Today, Orthodoxy plays a new spiritual, cultural and political role, especially in post-communist countries, and the world at large.
- Gianolatos, (2001) Globalisation and Orthodoxy. Akritas, Athens.
- Ware, K. (1963) The Orthodox Church. Penguin, London.