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The Greek Orthodox Church, or Greek Orthodoxy, may refer to several churches within the larger body of the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose liturgy was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament. The history, traditions and theology of the Greek Orthodox Church are rooted in the writings of the early Church Fathers and the culture of the Byzantine Empire. Within the Greek Orthodox Church, an emphasis is also placed on the traditions of Christian monasticism and asceticism, which also have their origins in the Near East and Byzantine Anatolia. Historically, Christianity was first brought to Greece by Saint Paul in the 1st century, with Corinth as the center of activity for the Church. After the death of Emperor Constantine the Great, who had established his capital at Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul), the empire was divided. Constantinople became the eastern capital, while a western capital was established at Rome. Within a short time, each had their own religious leaders, the pope in Rome and the patriarch in Constantinople. Nevertheless, Christianity grew and both the Eastern and Western divisions of the Church considered themselves to be One Church. However, in the 11th century, the Great Schism divided the Church. This concerned a disagreement over changes that the Roman Church made to the Nicene Creed, and ultimately over the Roman pope's claim to infallibility and supremacy over the Church. In 1054, the pope in Rome formally excommunicated the Church in Constantinople, separating the Churches of Rome and Constantinople. During the Turkish occupation of Greece, from the late 14th century to the mid-19th century, Greece was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Shortly after Greece won independence from Turkey in 1832, the Church also won its independence from Constantinople. Since then, there have been other splits in the Greek Orthodox Church. When the Church changed from using the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1924, some of the clergy and lay members of the Church were sufficiently upset to leave and form the Palaimerologitai, or the Old Calendarists, which continues today. Within the Greek Orthodox Church, the ultimate authority is in the Holy Synod, whose president is the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. This is the body that is responsible for church polity and other issues. The general administration of the Church is in the hands of another body, under the same presidency, and made up of twelve bishops who serve one-year terms. Greek Orthodox clergy can be celibate or married, but candidates for the priesthood must marry before they are ordained or remain celibate. Only celibate clergy are eligible to become bishops. Theological training is conducted by the University of Athens and the University of Thessalonica, and monastic communities are located throughout Greece. The monastic republic of Mount Athos, with twenty monasteries, is independent of the Greek Orthodox Church, but is dependent on Constantinople. Greek Orthodox Churches are in communion with one another, and with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, all of which hold to a common doctrine and form of worship. Greek Orthodox Churches are mostly found in the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Eastern Mediterranean, and most Greek Orthodox Christians live in Greece or the immediately surrounding countries, although there are many Greek Orthodox Christians in North America and Australia, as well. Churches that are considered to be Greek Orthodox include the four ancient Patriarchates (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Jerusalem), and the three autocephalous churches (Church of Greece, Church of Cyprus, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania).

 

 

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