Eastern Orthodox Church organization

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This article covers the organization of the Eastern Orthodox Churches rather than the doctrines, traditions, practices, or other aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church claims to be the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The term Western Orthodoxy is sometimes used to denominate what is technically a Vicariate within the Antiochian Orthodox Church and thus a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church as that term is defined here. The term "Western Orthodox Church" is disfavored by members of that Vicariate.

In the 5th century, Oriental Orthodoxy separated from Chalcedonian Christianity (and is therefore separate from both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches), well before the 11th century Great Schism. It should not be confused with Eastern Orthodoxy.


Eastern Orthodoxy

The Orthodox Church is a communion comprising the fifteen separate autocephalous hierarchical churches that recognize each other as "canonical" Orthodox Christian churches. There is an essentially political disagreement over the autocephaly of one of the churches—the Orthodox Church in America.

There is no single earthly head of all the Orthodox Churches comparable to the Pope of Rome. The highest-ranking bishop of the communion is the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is also primate of one of the autocephalous churches. These organizations are in full communion with each other, so any priest of any of those churches may lawfully minister to any member of any of them, and no member of any is excluded from any form of worship in any of the others, including reception of the Eucharist. Each local or national Orthodox Church is a portion of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

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