Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CHURCH, Greek. We shall not undertake to explain the origin and different phases of the operation of the Greek from the Roman church, but will confine ourselves to explaining as briefly as possible how the Greek or Oriental church is constituted. The Oriental church is divided into four patriarchates, with sees at Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. Greece, before its emancipation, belonged to the patriarchate of Constantinople; since the war of independence, it has been freed from this subjection, and the constitution of 1844 has converted this fact into a principle. The supreme authority is vested in a permanent holy synod, composed of five members; this synod sits in the capital and is presided over by the metropolitan; the other four members are called counselors. The sovereign is represented in the holy synod by a royal commission, which attends all the sittings, and countersigns all decrees, but has not the right of participating in the deliberations. In what concerns purely religious questions the holy synod acts in the plenitude of its independence; in matters of a mixed nature it acts in concert with the government. It is intrusted with the censorship of books for the young; it sees that the religious holidays are celebrated according to the orthodox rite, and that the clergy take no part in politics. In applications for divorce the bishop declares the dissolution of the marriage, after the sentence of the court has been transmitted to him. The metropolitan's salary is 6,000 drachmas; each of the ten archbishops receives 5,000, but the bishops receive only 4,000. The bishops are named by the king, upon the presentation of three candidates chosen by the holy synod from among the clergy of the kingdom of Greece.
—Of the four great Oriental sees, that of Constantinople is the only one that has maintained its importance; the provinces subjected to Turkey and to Austria are subject to its direction in spiritual matters.
—In what concerns the Græco-Russian church it is well known that after the capture of Constantinople by the Turks the Russian clergy have considered themselves independent of the supremacy of the Oriental patriarch, and that his influence increased to such a point as to give umbrage to the Muscovite sovereigns. The accession of Peter I. Put an end to this state of things; he knew that his clergy were opposed to the reforms which he contemplated. He, by his own authority, deposed Nicon, the patriarch of Moscow (1681). He afterward suppressed this dignity and confided the direction of everything relating to ecclesiastical affairs to a college composed of bishops and civil counselors, called the directing holy synod, which sat first at Moscow, and afterward at St. Petersburgh. The members of this synod now take rank immediately after the senators. It is presided over by an archbishop, who can not quit the imperial residence. The sees of the four great dioceses are St. Petersburgh, Kief, Kasan and Tobolsk; but the holy synod has branches in Georgia, Imeretia, and Mingrelia, whose chief towns are episcopal sees.
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