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The Russian Orthodox Church, also known as the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Russian Orthodox Church claims jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians in the former member republics of the Soviet Union, except for Georgia and Armenia, regardless of their ethnic background, although this claim is disputed in Estonia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The ROC also has jurisdiction over the autonomous Church of Japan and Orthodox Christians in China. Jurisdictionally, the Russian Orthodox Church is separate from the Russian Orthodox Church in America, which traces its history to Russian Orthodox missionaries who came to Alaska, and from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, but for the purposes of categorization here, they will be listed together, separated into subcategories only if there are enough sites to warrant it. Tradition has it that the Saint Andrew stood on hills of Kiev during his missionary journeys and blessed the future city of Kiev, but the first recorded baptism there was not until 988, that being the baptism of Saint Vladimir, whose grandmother had been baptized in Constantinople. Vladamir of Kiev made Christianity the official religion of Russia, although paganism remained the dominant religion. Until 1051, the Church at Kiev was a metropolitanate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and its metropolitans were appointed by Greek patriarchs, a practice that changed with the appointment of Hilarion, a native Russian, as metropolitan. During the 12th century, the Russian Orthodox Church became the focus of unity for the Russian people and, after a period of feudal divisions, principalities began to unite around Moscow in the 14th century. Metropolitan Jonas played a significant role in helping to end the feudal divisions, and was elected Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. Under his leadership, the Russian Orthodox Church achieved independence, and it increased in stature and authority, which was emphasized when the Metropolitan of Moscow became a Patriarch. A theory was developed in Moscow that viewed Moscow as the Third Rome, the legitimate successor to Constantinople, and the Primate of the Moscow Church as the head of the Russian Church. A schism occurred in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1653 over changes that were introduced by the Patriarch Nikon, intended to establish uniformity between the Greek and Russian churches. A group, known as the Zealots of Piety, separated from the main body of the ROC, and became known as the Old Ritualists or the Old Believers. During the reign of Peter the Great, the Patriarch was replaced with a Holy Synod, which was controlled by the Tsar. Having a low regard for the Church, Peter the Great sought to reduce the importance of the Church in the lives of Russians. Under his reign, a career within the Church was not one chosen by upper-class society; subsequently, Church positions were filled with people who were poorly educated. Later in the 18th century, Catherine the Great seized most of the Church's land, and put the priests on s small salary that was supplemented by fees for baptisms and marriages. In the following centuries, the Russian Orthodox Church expanded to surrounding countries, including Alaska, which was then a Russian territory. Russian control over the Church ended with the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Bolshevik-controlled government of Soviet Russia officially separated church and state in 1918. However, as the Soviet government gained power, it worked against the Church. Religious organizations were deprived of legal status, and the right to own property, and legal religious activity was restricted to services and sermons within church buildings. Then, the church buildings themselves were destroyed or converted to secular use. Seminaries were closed, and the Church was forbidden any use of the press. In 1922, a schism in the Russian Orthodox Church was largely orchestrated by the Soviet government, when the Living Church (Renovationist Church, Renovationism) broke away to form the Orthodox Russian Church, which later became the Orthodox Church in USSR, which was supported by the Soviet Secret Services. In the latter years of the Soviet Union, beginning with Mikhail Gorbachev, the official suppression of the Russian Orthodox Church was relaxed, and some church buildings were returned. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was formed by Russian Orthodox exiles from Soviet Russia in Yugoslavia and, although there were attempts to broker an understanding between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, the attempts had failed by 1940. Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in America are separate entities from the Russian Orthodox Church.

 

 

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