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Author Topic: Will the OCA Gain Official Autocephaly?  (Read 2185 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: July 16, 2012, 08:55:48 AM »

What would happen if the Tomos was recalled for the OCA? With ROCOR coming under the MP a few years ago and then if the OCA came back under its wings, it seems like it puts the other Jurisdictions on the spot with coming back under MP or uniting somehow. They really wouldn't have a good reason to not defer back to the MP? Hence, we would have a North American church.
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« Reply #46 on: July 16, 2012, 09:38:09 AM »

Quote
What would happen if the Tomos was recalled for the OCA?
Can that happen? Seems kind of counter intuitive to have autocepaly like that.
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« Reply #47 on: July 16, 2012, 09:53:07 AM »

What would happen if the Tomos was recalled for the OCA? With ROCOR coming under the MP a few years ago and then if the OCA came back under its wings, it seems like it puts the other Jurisdictions on the spot with coming back under MP or uniting somehow. They really wouldn't have a good reason to not defer back to the MP? Hence, we would have a North American church.

Yeah, not sure autocephaly can be rescinded. And even if if were, it wouldn't solve the problem.
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« Reply #48 on: July 16, 2012, 09:57:48 AM »

The EP has never accepted the autocephaly, so technically it could be rescinded. Coming under the MP wouldn't directly solve the problem, yes, but having everyone back under the MP and then working from there on a united church makes working together a little more easier.
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« Reply #49 on: July 16, 2012, 10:52:20 AM »

Two weeks ago, the GOAA's 41st Clergy-Laity Congress approved a National Ministries budget of more than $25 million; the OCA's annual budget is around $2.5 million."

I was going to post this.  And this is all you needed to post.  All the other stuff in your post is frankly meaningless.  Grin  That is not a shot at you, just pointing out this issue has nothing to do with history or overlapping bishops or churches that are ethnic social clubs or everything else people babble on about when it comes to this issue.

The important people in this debate are not the EP, Met Jonah, clergy, laity, alter boys, etc.  The important people in this debate are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjie Franklin, et al.

It was explained to me recently in an other thread that autocephaly means the OCA rules America and all the other existing churches come under it.

If anybody thinks the GOA is going to just hand over the money, you are completely delusional.  If anybody thinks GOAers are going to sit quietly while the church hands everything over to the OCA, you are beyond delusional.

Comparing the US to other countries is also meaningless because all the other places only had one church.  So if the OCA unilaterally declares it is autocephalous, so what.  Nothing changes.



The OCA is already autocephalous. That is not at issue here. The issue is when and under what conditions, OCA's autocephaly may be sacrificed for administrative unity on this continent. All jurisdictions at the present are in communion with each other; let's pray that this continues. However, we are on the way to the establishment of an administratively united church under the guidance of the Assembly of Bishops. I hope and pray that the OCA will not sacrifice her autocephaly to any other local church than an administratively united AND autocephalous Orthodox Church of the United States of America.

Here is a hypothetical situation to think through. What if the OCA, MP and Rocor combined? That is the most likely of all scenarios for the time being. Now if that really did happen, who would step aside and who would be in charge?  Who would then split?

Met Jonah was actually a unifying force. He grew up under the MP, and was a Church Calendar guy. But without him will the modernist movements inside the OCA gain ground and if they do, that would end any hope of Russian Tradition unity in the USA..

That is the real issue. What Rocor people see as creeping modernism vs. what some OCA people see as old world baggage. One side or the other would leave depending on how the Hierarchical deck was shuffled. Jonah had a shot at bridging this gap. Now lets see how Moscow reacts to his lose. Stay tuned.
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« Reply #50 on: July 16, 2012, 11:47:50 AM »

As someone who recently joined an OCA church, this is all a little concerning to me.  People in the OCA are still actually Orthodox, right?

My understanding that our autocephaly was debatable.  Some people believed we were, while some people said we werent.  At the end of the day, we were still 100% in communion with the rest of the ORthodox Church.  Arent we technically Russian anyway?

Why does this all have to be so confusing?  Ha!
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« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2012, 11:53:45 AM »

As someone who recently joined an OCA church, this is all a little concerning to me.  People in the OCA are still actually Orthodox, right?

My understanding that our autocephaly was debatable.  Some people believed we were, while some people said we werent.  At the end of the day, we were still 100% in communion with the rest of the ORthodox Church.  Arent we technically Russian anyway?

Why does this all have to be so confusing?  Ha!

We are fully canonical and are in communion with every other Orthodox Church.
We were granted autocephaly (the right to complete self-governance) in 1970 by the Russian Church.

This granting of autocephaly is disputed by the Ecumenical Patriarch and several other Orthodox Churches. There are three main reasons it is disputed. The first reason is that there were other Orthodox Churches (archdiocese) in America at the time Russia granted autocephaly. Second is that the Russian Church was heavily influenced by the Soviet Authorities at the time. Third is the Ecumenical Patriarch believes it is only he that has the right to grant autocephaly.

It has nothing to do with us being non-canonical vs. canonical. It is a political debate amongst the other churches.
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« Reply #52 on: July 16, 2012, 12:27:54 PM »

Here is who granted autocephaly to which churches and when (by diptych rank):

1. Ecumenical Patriarch, 330 AD by Metropolis of Heraclea. Made Patriarchate in 381 by Ecumenical Council and the Patriarch was initially appointed by the Patriarch of Antioch.
2. Patriarch of Alexandria, apostolic...
3. Patriarchate of Antioch, apostolic...
4. Patriarchate of Jerusalem, appointed by Metropolitan of Caesarea, raised to patriarchate & autocephaly in 451 by Ecumenical Council.
5. Patriarch of Russia, 1448 AD became independent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 1589 AD raised to Patriarchate by Ecumenical Patriarch.
6. Patriarch of Serbia, 1219 AD granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 1346 AD, raised to Patriarchate by an assembly with itself, the Archbishop of Ohrid, the Patriarch of Bulgaria & various leaders from Mt. Athos.
7. Patriarch of Romania, 1872 AD, declared itself to be autocephalous. Not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch until 1885. Raised to Patriarchate in 1925.
8. Patriarch of Bulgaria, declared autocephalous in 919 AD by a national council. 927 AD recognized as autocephalous by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
9. Patriarch of Georgia, granted partial autocephaly by Antioch around 486 AD. Gained full autocephaly in 1917 by Russia.

While the Ecumenical Patriarch has had a significant hand in four of of the nine autocephalous churches, three out of those four declared their own independence/autocephaly and were later recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Those four were, in fact, under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Georgia was under the jurisdiction of Antioch and granted partial autocephaly by it until it gained full autocephaly from Russia in 1917. One of those (the EP himself) gained autocephaly through an Ecumenical Council.

The debate here is whether or not Russia had jurisdiction over the Americas. Russia claims it did due to its missionary work in Alaska and appointing the first Bishop in America. However, the Ecumenical Patriarch also claims jurisdiction because the first Orthodox presence in America was by Greeks in Florida.

Clearly, the Russian Church should have respected the other church's presence in America. It is also quite debatable whether or not it had the right to grant autocephaly.

The Ecumenical Patriarch's argument using Canon 28 of Chalcedon to argue it has jurisdiction over all "barbarian lands" frankly just falls flat on its face and cannot be considered a valid argument. There are other good reasons against the granting of autocephaly but this certainly isn't one of them.
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« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2012, 12:38:43 PM »

You forgot the remaining 6 ^
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« Reply #54 on: July 16, 2012, 12:44:04 PM »

You forgot the remaining 6 ^

sigh, I hadn't noticed that...
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« Reply #55 on: July 16, 2012, 03:27:30 PM »

What would happen if the Tomos was recalled for the OCA? With ROCOR coming under the MP a few years ago and then if the OCA came back under its wings, it seems like it puts the other Jurisdictions on the spot with coming back under MP or uniting somehow. They really wouldn't have a good reason to not defer back to the MP? Hence, we would have a North American church.

I don't know if this could really really help. If anything, it might just cause more issues with the heirarchy. What about the jurisdictions that were never associated with the MP? I'm pretty sure that they cannot just decide to come under his wings when they are already associated with a different Patriarch. And if they somehow did, then it would probably cause problems between other Patriarchs thinking that the MP is 'stealing their flock' or something.

However, on a more positive note, if the OCA and any remaining autocephelous Russian Churches in America that I am not aware of all went back under the MP, it could possibly pressure the EP and other Patriarchates to try and unify their American jurisdictions with us somehow.
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« Reply #56 on: July 16, 2012, 04:25:25 PM »

What would happen if the Tomos was recalled for the OCA? With ROCOR coming under the MP a few years ago and then if the OCA came back under its wings, it seems like it puts the other Jurisdictions on the spot with coming back under MP or uniting somehow. They really wouldn't have a good reason to not defer back to the MP? Hence, we would have a North American church.

I don't know if this could really really help. If anything, it might just cause more issues with the heirarchy. What about the jurisdictions that were never associated with the MP? I'm pretty sure that they cannot just decide to come under his wings when they are already associated with a different Patriarch. And if they somehow did, then it would probably cause problems between other Patriarchs thinking that the MP is 'stealing their flock' or something.

However, on a more positive note, if the OCA and any remaining autocephelous Russian Churches in America that I am not aware of all went back under the MP, it could possibly pressure the EP and other Patriarchates to try and unify their American jurisdictions with us somehow.

They weren't always associated with a different Jurisdiction. The Antiochians were under the MP in the time of St. Raphael of Brooklyn's bishopric. If everyone who was under the MP went back under the MP, it would make it difficult for the remaining jurisdictions to remain out of unity.

Right now, you have everyone under a different old world Primate. Simplify that down to one Primate and unifiying everyone becomes easier and would eventually lead to a independent new world church.
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« Reply #57 on: July 16, 2012, 04:36:17 PM »

As someone who recently joined an OCA church, this is all a little concerning to me.  People in the OCA are still actually Orthodox, right?

My understanding that our autocephaly was debatable.  Some people believed we were, while some people said we werent.  At the end of the day, we were still 100% in communion with the rest of the ORthodox Church.  Arent we technically Russian anyway?

Why does this all have to be so confusing?  Ha!

Yes. Yes. Yes and no: we are technically American, we descended from Moscow, and Moscow descended from Constantinople--that is, we are all Byzantine rite Orthodox..
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« Reply #58 on: July 16, 2012, 05:16:10 PM »

The EP has never accepted the autocephaly, so technically it could be rescinded.

That assumes that EP's acceptance is critical. However, that point is a bone of contention between the EP and MP. It is in fact on the agenda for the next world-wide Council.
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« Reply #59 on: July 16, 2012, 05:33:51 PM »

The EP has never accepted the autocephaly, so technically it could be rescinded.

That assumes that EP's acceptance is critical. However, that point is a bone of contention between the EP and MP. It is in fact on the agenda for the next world-wide Council.

Plus, it would seem to me that for the Patriarchate of Moscow to rescind the tomos, they would have to yield to the claim of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that only it can grant autocephaly. 
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« Reply #60 on: July 16, 2012, 05:43:07 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Maybe. But the OCA has been a rollercoaster and you do not know what could happen. Deep down I kind of have that hope that maybe we will finally be recognized as autocephelous by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Two things too:

(A) When in the history of the Church, has it NOT been a rollercoaster? In all honesty then, while autocephaly surely has its needs and merits, it is not panacia that will cure all the ailments of the OCA

(B) The Ethiopian Church experience with autocephalyy has been equally wrought with scandal, controversy, and division (Lord have His mercy just since the 1970s we've had one Patriarch martyred (rest his soul!!) and another forced into exile,  (that is 2 out of 5).  In other words, it didn't necessarily solve any of our problems and in truth, it created several new ones.  One of the distinct and inadvertent advantages of having foreign Metropolitans and Patriarchs is they serve a kind of neutral arbitrator in disputes.  The history of the Ethiopian Church is filled with internal rivalries and political strife between various factions of clergies, and it is not different today in the modern era, though autocephaly has taken away the semi-neutral arbitration of the Alexandrian clergies, who had a few less dogs in the fight so to speak.  Autocephaly has its blessings, and it has its responsibilities, we need to let this be a matter of God that we consider in prayer very patiently and carefully.

I support autocephaly, both in my own Ethiopian Church, and also any other jurisdictions seeking such, but we must always remember, that clergy is a vocation called by God, not our own human decisions and wants.  God has to agree in synergy with our decisions, otherwise we need to learn to adjust to God's decisions when He doesn't.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #61 on: July 16, 2012, 06:57:55 PM »

Here is who granted autocephaly to which churches and when (by diptych rank):

1. Ecumenical Patriarch, 330 AD by Metropolis of Heraclea. Made Patriarchate in 381 by Ecumenical Council and the Patriarch was initially appointed by the Patriarch of Antioch.
2. Patriarch of Alexandria, apostolic...
3. Patriarchate of Antioch, apostolic...
4. Patriarchate of Jerusalem, appointed by Metropolitan of Caesarea, raised to patriarchate & autocephaly in 451 by Ecumenical Council.
5. Patriarch of Russia, 1448 AD became independent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 1589 AD raised to Patriarchate by Ecumenical Patriarch.
6. Patriarch of Serbia, 1219 AD granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 1346 AD, raised to Patriarchate by an assembly with itself, the Archbishop of Ohrid, the Patriarch of Bulgaria & various leaders from Mt. Athos.
7. Patriarch of Romania, 1872 AD, declared itself to be autocephalous. Not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch until 1885. Raised to Patriarchate in 1925.
8. Patriarch of Bulgaria, declared autocephalous in 919 AD by a national council. 927 AD recognized as autocephalous by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
9. Patriarch of Georgia, granted partial autocephaly by Antioch around 486 AD. Gained full autocephaly in 1917 by Russia.

While the Ecumenical Patriarch has had a significant hand in four of of the nine autocephalous churches, three out of those four declared their own independence/autocephaly and were later recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Those four were, in fact, under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Georgia was under the jurisdiction of Antioch and granted partial autocephaly by it until it gained full autocephaly from Russia in 1917. One of those (the EP himself) gained autocephaly through an Ecumenical Council.

The debate here is whether or not Russia had jurisdiction over the Americas. Russia claims it did due to its missionary work in Alaska and appointing the first Bishop in America. However, the Ecumenical Patriarch also claims jurisdiction because the first Orthodox presence in America was by Greeks in Florida.

Clearly, the Russian Church should have respected the other church's presence in America. It is also quite debatable whether or not it had the right to grant autocephaly.

The Ecumenical Patriarch's argument using Canon 28 of Chalcedon to argue it has jurisdiction over all "barbarian lands" frankly just falls flat on its face and cannot be considered a valid argument. There are other good reasons against the granting of autocephaly but this certainly isn't one of them.

Also, the Church of Cyprus was granted autocephaly by the 4th Ecumenical Synod (if I'm not mistaken), in 451.  Note too, in the 1970 correspondence between Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Patriarch Alexei I and later the Church of Russia's Locum Tenens Metropolitan Pimen, wherein both made their respective arguments for how autocephaly should be proclaimed, because of the Church of Russia's disputed impending Tomos of Autocephaly to the Russian Metropolia/OCA, both churches agreed it would be most desirable for an Ecumenical Synod to establish autocephalos churches and the Church of Russia committed to abide by the decision of the planned Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church.

The Church of Greece was granted autocephaly in 1850 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, of which it was a part, 17 years after the Church had made a self-proclamation of autocephaly.
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« Reply #62 on: July 16, 2012, 11:55:55 PM »

As someone who recently joined an OCA church, this is all a little concerning to me.  People in the OCA are still actually Orthodox, right?

My understanding that our autocephaly was debatable.  Some people believed we were, while some people said we werent.  At the end of the day, we were still 100% in communion with the rest of the ORthodox Church.  Arent we technically Russian anyway?

Why does this all have to be so confusing?  Ha!


Well there's a difference between de facto and de jure. We are most certainly de facto autocephalous as we are completely self governing. I don't think anyone really argues that. What is in question is de jure autocephaly with all of its canonical implications. Even Moscow doesn't seem to fully accept that as it still has bishops and parishes here in the States.
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« Reply #63 on: July 17, 2012, 11:10:37 AM »

America thinks like the west, not the east.  

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« Reply #64 on: July 17, 2012, 11:45:12 AM »

Here is who granted autocephaly to which churches and when (by diptych rank):

8. Patriarch of Bulgaria, declared autocephalous in 919 AD by a national council. 927 AD recognized as autocephalous by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
.

May I make a tiny correction to the Bulgarian situation? The Bulgarian Church has had autocephaly granted to her three times by Constantinople. From the outset, I think we need to acknowledge that she was a daughter church of Constantinople. However, her mother church has not always treated her with, shall we say, due consideration. In any case, here is the history (from Wikipedia but I think this account is reliable):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgarian_Orthodox_Church

Autocephaly No. 1 (927): Preslav Patriarchate and Ochrid Archbishopric. the Bulgarian Tsar and Saint Boris I believed that cultural advancement and the sovereignty and prestige of a Christian Bulgaria could be achieved through an enlightened clergy governed by an autocephalous church. To this end, he manoeuvred between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Roman Pope for a period of five years until in 870 AD, the Fourth Council of Constantinople granted the Bulgarians an autonomous Bulgarian archbishopric. The archbishopric had its seat in the Bulgarian capital of Pliska and its diocese covered the whole territory of the Bulgarian state. The tug-of-war between Rome and Constantinople was resolved by putting the Bulgarian archbishopric under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, from whom it obtained its first primate, its clergy and theological books.

Although the archbishopric enjoyed full internal autonomy, the goals of Boris I were scarcely fulfilled. A Greek liturgy offered by a Byzantine clergy furthered neither the cultural development of the Bulgarians, nor the consolidation of the Bulgarian state; it would have eventually resulted in the loss of both the identity of the people and the statehood of Bulgaria. Thus, Boris I greeted the arrival of the disciples of the Saints Cyril and Methodius in 886 as an opportunity. Boris I gave them the task to instruct the future Bulgarian clergy in the Glagolitic alphabet and the Slavonic liturgy prepared by Cyril. The liturgy was based on the vernacular of the Macedonian Slavs from the region of Thessaloniki. In 893, Boris I expelled the Greek clergy from the country and ordered the replacing of the Greek language with the Slav-Bulgarian vernacular.

Following Bulgaria's two decisive victories over the Byzantines at Acheloos (near the present-day city of Pomorie) and Katasyrtai (near Constantinople), the government declared the autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric as autocephalous and elevated it to the rank of Patriarchate at an ecclesiastical and national council held in 919. After Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire signed a peace treaty in 927 that concluded the 20-year-long war between them, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and acknowledged its patriarchal dignity. The Bulgarian Patriarchate was the first autocephalous Slavic Orthodox Church, preceding the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church (1219) by 300 years and of the Russian Orthodox Church (1596) by some 600 years. It was the sixth Patriarchate after Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch. The seat of the Patriarchate was the new Bulgarian capital of Preslav.

On April 5, 972, Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces conquered and burned down Preslav, and captured Bulgarian Tsar Boris II. Patriarch Damyan managed to escape, initially to Sredetz (Sofia) in western Bulgaria. In the coming years, the residence of the Bulgarian patriarchs remained closely connected to the developments in the war between the next Bulgarian monarchist dynasty, the Comitopuli, and the Byzantine Empire. Patriarch German resided consecutively in Moglen, Voden (Edessa) (in present-day north-western Greece), and Prespa (in present-day southern Republic of Macedonia). Around 990, the next patriarch, Philip, moved to Ohrid (in present-day south-western Republic of Macedonia), which became the permanent seat of the Patriarchate.

After the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantium domination in 1018, Emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonus (the “Bulgar-Slayer”) acknowledged the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. By special charters (royal decrees), his government set up its boundaries, dioceses, property and other privileges. The church was deprived of its Patriarchal title and reduced to the rank of an archbishopric. Although the first appointed archbishop (John of Debar) was a Bulgarian, his successors, as well as the whole higher clergy, were invariably Greeks. The monks and the ordinary priests remained, however, predominantly Bulgarian. To a large extent the archbishopric preserved its national character, upheld the Slavonic liturgy and continued its contribution to the development of Bulgarian literature. The autocephaly of the Ohrid Archbishopric remained respected during the periods of Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ottoman rule. The church continued to exist until its unlawful abolition in 1767.

Autocephaly Number 2 (1235): The Tirnovo Patriarchate. Bottom line: In 1235 a church council was convened in the town of Lampsakos. Under the presidency of Patriarch Germanus II of Constantinople and with the consent of all Eastern Patriarchs, the council confirmed the Patriarchal dignity of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and consecrated the Bulgarian archbishop German as Patriarch. After the fall of Tarnovo under the Ottomans in 1393 and the sending of Patriarch Evtimiy into exile, the autocephalous church organization was destroyed again. The Bulgarian diocese was subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The other Bulgarian religious centre – the Ohrid Archbishopric – managed to survive a few centuries more (until 1767), as a stronghold of faith and piety.

Ottoman Period or between autocephalies. As the Ottomans were Muslim, the period of Ottoman rule was the most difficult in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to the same extent as it was the hardest in the history of the Bulgarian people. During and immediately after the Ottoman conquest, the vast majority of the Bulgarian churches and monasteries, including the Patriarchal Cathedral church of the Holy Ascension in Tarnovo, were razed to the ground. The few surviving ones were converted into mosques. Most of the clergy were killed.

After many of the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church were executed, it was fully subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The millet system in the Ottoman Empire granted a number of important civil and judicial functions to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the diocesan metropolitans. As the higher Bulgarian church clerics were replaced by Greek ones at the beginning of the Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian population was subjected to double oppression – political by the Ottomans and cultural by the Greek clergy. With the rise of Greek nationalism in the second half of the 18th century, the clergy imposed the Greek language and a Greek consciousness on the emerging Bulgarian bourgeoisie. The Patriarchate of Constantinople became its tool to assimilate other peoples. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, the clergy opened numerous schools with all-round Greek language curriculum and nearly banned the Bulgarian liturgy. These actions threatened the survival of the Bulgarians as a separate nation and people with its own, distinct national culture.

Discontent with the supremacy of the Greek clergy started to flare up in several Bulgarian dioceses as early as the 1820s. It was not until 1850 that the Bulgarians initiated a purposeful struggle against the Greek clerics in a number of bishoprics, demanding their replacement with Bulgarian ones. By that time, most Bulgarian clergy had realised that further struggle for the rights of the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire could not succeed unless they managed to obtain some degree of autonomy from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As the Ottomans identified nationality with religion, and the Bulgarians were Eastern Orthodox, the Ottomans considered them part of the Roum-Milet, i.e., the Greeks. To gain Bulgarian schools and liturgy, the Bulgarians needed to achieve an independent ecclesiastical organisation.

The struggle between the Bulgarians, led by Neofit Bozveli and Ilarion Makariopolski, and the Greeks intensified throughout the 1860s. By the end of the decade, Bulgarian bishoprics had expelled most of the Greek clerics, thus the whole of northern Bulgaria, as well as the northern parts of Thrace and Macedonia had effectively seceded from the Patriarchate. The Ottoman government restored the Bulgarian Patriarchate under the name of "Bulgarian Exarchate" by a decree (firman) of the Sultan promulgated on February 28, 1870. The original Exarchate extended over present-day northern Bulgaria (Moesia), Thrace without the Vilayet of Adrianople, as well as over north-eastern Macedonia. After the Christian population of the bishoprics of Skopje and Ohrid voted in 1874 overwhelmingly in favour of joining the Exarchate (Skopje by 91%, Ohrid by 97%), the Bulgarian Exarchate became in control of the whole of Vardar and Pirin Macedonia. The Bulgarian Exarchate was partially represented in southern Macedonia and the Vilayet of Adrianople by vicars. Thus, the borders of the Exarchate included all Bulgarian districts in the Ottoman Empire. This was condemned as a heresy (ethnic nationalism) by a council of Greek Patriarchs in 1873.

On the eve of the Balkan Wars, in Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet, the Bulgarian Exarchate had seven dioceses with prelates and eight more with acting chairmen in charge and 38 vicariates; 1,218 parishes and 1,212 parish priests; 64 monasteries and 202 chapels; as well as of 1,373 schools with 2,266 teachers and 78,854 pupils.

After World War I, by virtue of the peace treaties, the Bulgarian Exarchate was deprived of its dioceses in Macedonia and Aegean Thrace. Exarch Joseph I transferred his offices from Istanbul to Sofia as early as 1913. After the death of Joseph I in 1915, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was not in a position to elect its regular head for a total of three decades.

Autocephaly Number Three (1945): The Sofia Patriarchate. Conditions for the restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate and the election of a head of the Bulgarian Church were created after World War II. In 1945 the schism was lifted and the Patriarch of Constantinople recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church. In 1950, the Holy Synod adopted a new Statute which paved the way for the restoration of the Patriarchate and in 1953, it elected the Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Cyril, Bulgarian Patriarch.
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