Historically, there is a certain enmity between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. This is primarily because of the Great Schism, which divided Christianity between East and West in 1054.
Despite the enmity, Pope Francis is trying to heal the divide. This is why he has invited one of his Eastern Orthodox counterparts, Patriarch Kirill, to meet with him in Cuba next week.
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church is the head of the Church in Russia. He is elected for life and leads the local councils of bishops and parish clergy, monks and laity.
He also serves as the primate of the Eastern eparchies and as the chairman of the Holy Synod, the supreme governing body of the Church. He is responsible for the interpretation of the teachings and practices of the church.
Until now, the Catholic Church has not had an official relationship with the Moscow Orthodox Church. But in the last five years, Patriarch Kirill has been enjoying increasingly close ties with Moscow that have been criticized by some as a de-facto merging of the Church and the state.
The Catholic and Orthodox churches announced Friday that Pope Francis will visit Cuba next week, where he will meet with Patriarch Kirill. This is the first meeting between a pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch, and could be an important step toward healing the 1,000-year schism that divides Christianity.
The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church under the pope represent a diverse group. Some are from the Moscow Patriarchate, some come from Russia’s dioceses outside of Moscow and some are from the Russian Church Abroad.
The Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate are known as “Holiness of Christ.” They are considered to be the leaders of the entire Church. They are responsible for preserving the faith, discipline and discipline of the clergy, as well as ensuring the integrity of the Church in its external relations.
While many Orthodox have a “conciliar model” of the church, others prefer an “architectural model,” which includes the hierarchy and a centralized authority. This is the system that led to the creation of a number of Eastern Orthodox patriarchates.
The Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church opened on Tuesday, February 2nd, in the Hall of Church Councils at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. Archpastors from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took part in the Council.
The Church Services
The Orthodox Church is the gathering of the Christian people, united to their bishops, presbyters and deacons, celebrating the Eucharist as their divinely given bond in Christ. It is a worldwide communion of many autocephalous churches (self-governing) that have full sacramental unity and agreement on all matters of faith.
There is no universal head like the Roman Catholic pope in Rome, although the Orthodox church does have some degree of doctrinal and historical unity with the Catholic Church. The biggest obstacle to unity between the two is still the Great Schism that divided the Eastern Church from Rome in 1054.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis and his Eastern counterparts have made several attempts to improve relations. A recent meeting in Cuba, for example, took almost two years of intense diplomacy to schedule.
The Holy Sacraments
The Orthodox Church holds to and preserves the teachings of all the orthodox Christians who have preceded it (the word ‘orthodox’ means ‘right belief and right glory’). It zealously believes and adheres to all the ancient Christian teachings and traditions, including Sacred Scripture.
The ‘Divine Liturgy’ is the central worship experience of the Orthodox Church and the heart of its spirituality. It is a mystical service of prayer where the mind, body, and soul are all involved in a single act of worship.
Besides Sacred Scripture, the Orthodox Church accepts Sacred Tradition as the primary source of divine revelation. It includes both oral teachings from the Church Fathers and the decisions of ecumenical councils.
The sacraments include the Holy Eucharist, baptism, chrismation, penance, anointing of the sick, and marriage. The sacraments serve to unite the individual with Christ in faith, and strengthen one’s relationship with God. The sacraments also celebrate God’s active presence in human lives.