<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> Church History

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church is one of the three main Christian groups (the others being Roman Catholic and Protestant). Around 200 million people follow the Orthodox tradition.

It is made up of a number of self-governing Churches which are either 'autocephalous' (meaning having their own head) or 'autonomous' (meaning self-governing).

The Orthodox Churches are united in faith and by a common approach to theology, tradition, and worship. They draw on elements of Greek, Middle-Eastern, Russian and Slav culture.

Each Church has its own geographical (rather than a national) title that usually reflects the cultural traditions of its believers.

The word 'Orthodox' takes its meaning from the Greek words orthos ('right') and doxa ('belief'). Hence the word Orthodox means correct belief or right thinking.

The Orthodox tradition developed from the Christianity of the Eastern Roman Empire and was shaped by the pressures, politics and peoples of that geographical area. Since the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire was Byzantium, this style of Christianity is sometimes called 'Byzantine Christianity'.

The Orthodox Churches share with the other Christian Churches the belief that God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and a belief in the incarnation of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. The Orthodox Church differs substantially from the other Churches in the way of life and worship, and in certain aspects of theology.

The Holy Spirit is seen as present in and as the guide to the Church working through the whole body of the Church, as well as through priests and bishops.

Are Orthodox Churches the same as Eastern Orthodox Churches? Not all Orthodox Churches are 'Eastern Orthodox'. The 'Oriental Orthodox Churches' have theological differences with the Eastern Orthodox and form a separate group, while a few Orthodox Churches are not 'in communion' with the others.

Not all Churches in the Eastern tradition are Orthodox - Eastern Churches that are not included in the Orthodox group include the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches The nominal head of the Eastern Orthodox Churches is the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, he is only first among equals and has no real authority over Churches other than his own.

There are 15 'autocephalous Churches', listed in order of precedence.

Churches 1-9 are led by Patriarchs, while the others are led by Archbishops or Metropolitans:

Orhodoxy in Hungary

There is no one, official, united Hungarian Orthodox Church. Many Orthodox churches are present in the country or lay claim to some territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, but most Byzantine or Eastern Christians of the modern, sovereign nation of Hungary belong to the Byzantine Catholics churches that follow the ancient liturgical traditions of the East, while being in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and placing themselves under the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Today they are known as Greek Catholic or the Eastern Catholic Churches.

Historically, Eastern Catholic Churches were located in Eastern Europe, the Asian Middle East, Northern Africa and India. Due to migration they are now also in Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania, where eparchies have been established alongside the Latin dioceses. Eritrea has only an Eastern Catholic hierarchy, with no Latin structure.

The Kingdom of Hungary, or "Realm of the Crown of St. Stephen", encompassed a very different area than the modern nation of Hungary. In one sense, one could speak of the Patriarchate of Karlowitz (Sremski Karlovci), later integrated into the Serbian Orthodox Church, as the only "Hungarian Orthodox Church" in history. The Sremski Karlovci, formed in 1765, was comprised of all the Orthodox Serbs found in the Kingdom of Hungary, and consisted of six suffragan sees on Hungarian territory.

Other "Hungarian Orthodox", or Eastern Orthodox Christians of the territories of the former Kingdom of Hungary, now find themselves on Romanian, Slovak, Czech, Croatian and Bosnian territory and belong either to the Church of Serbia, the Church of Romania, or the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

Today, over 50% of the population of Hungary is Roman Catholic. Another 20% is Calvinist. The largest minority faith group is the Lutherans. Greek or Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox do not make up a significant percentage of the demographic.

Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite sui juris particular Church in full union with the Catholic Church that uses Hungarian in the liturgy.


Prior to Angevin accost of Hungary the majority of the population belong to traditional Greek / Byzantine Orthodox Church. After the Battle of Rozgony it took additional 300 years to convert the entire Hungarian population, with exception of Slavic population within Carpathian Mountains, to what is known today as the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church.

After 19 century the Hungary's Greek Catholics were mostly concentrated in what is now northeastern Hungary. This region was historically inhabited by Orthodox Christians from the Carpathian Mountains (Ruthenians and Romanians). Serbs fleeing the Turkish advance arrived later in what was then Hungary, but most stayed in the area that is now part of Serbia. Later still, when the Turks were driven back from Vienna in 1683 and from Buda and central Hungary in 1686, Ruthenians and Slovaks settled in the abandoned lands of Hungary. They were cared for by the Ruthenian Byzantine Rite Eparchy of Mukacheve (Hungarian: Munkacs). In the 18th century many Hungarian Protestants joined the Catholic Church, adopting the Byzantine Rite rather than the Latin.

Perhaps largely because of this last element, Byzantine Hungarians began to use the Hungarian language in their liturgy. A translation of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom for private study was published in 1795. A book containing the parts of the liturgy that the people sing appeared in 1862. Representatives of 58 Hungarian-speaking parishes met in 1868 and set up an organization to promote the liturgical use of the Hungarian language and the establishment of a separate eparchy. 1882 saw the publication, without formal ecclesiastical approval, of a Hungarian translation of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom for actual use, which was soon followed by Hungarian translations of other liturgical texts. Finally, on 8 June 1912, Pope Pius X established the Eparchy of Hajdudorog for the 162 Hungarian-speaking Greek Catholic parishes. He limited the use of Hungarian to non-liturgical functions, requiring the clergy to use Greek in the liturgy, but granted an interval of three years for the change of language to be effected. Because of the outbreak of the First World War, this interval was prolonged indefinitely, and use of Hungarian has continued.

The change of national frontiers after the First World War led to the reduction of the territory of the Eparchy of Hajdudorog from the 168 parishes to which it had grown to only 90. Within Hungary there were also 21 parishes of the Eparchy of Presov and one of the Eparchy of Mukacevo. On 4 June 1924, these were brought together as the new Exarchate of Miskolc, at first - because at that time they still used Church Slavonic in the liturgy - classified as Ruthenian, but now considered part of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church.

The territory of the eparchy at first corresponded to that of the Latin Archdiocese of Eger (eastern Hungary) and Budapest. But its jurisdiction was extended on 17 July 1980 to the whole of Hungary.

A small number of Hungarian Greek Catholics have emigrated to North America, where their few parishes are aggregated, in the United States of America, to the Ruthenian Byzantine Metropolia, and, in Canada, to the Ukrainian eparchies.

Slovak Greek Catholic Church

The Slovak Greek Catholic Church, or Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church, is a Byzantine Rite particular Church in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. L'Osservatore Romano of January 31, 2008 reported that, in Slovakia alone, it had some 350,000 faithful, 374 priests and 254 parishes. In addition, the 2007 Annuario Pontificio gave its Canadian Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto as having 25,000 faithful, 6 priests and 7 parishes. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is in full communion with Holy See.


Since the Union of Uzhhorod in 1646 was unanimously accepted on the territory that includes present-day eastern Slovakia, the history of Slovak Greek Catholic Church was for centuries intertwined with that of the Ruthenian Catholic Church. At the end of World War I, most Greek Catholic Ruthenians and Slovaks were included within the territory of Czechoslovakia, including two eparchies, Presov and Mukacevo. The eparchy of Presov, created on September 22, 1818, was removed in 1937 from the jurisdiction of the Hungarian primate and subjected directly to the Holy See, while the 21 parishes of the eparchy of Presov that were in Hungary were formed into the new exarchate of Miskolc.

After World War II, the eparchy of Mukac(evo in Transcarpathia was annexed by the Soviet Union, thus the eparchy of Presov included all the Greek Catholics that remained in Czechoslovakia. After communists seized the country in April 1950, a "synod" was convoked at Presov, at which five priests and a number of laymen signed a document declaring that the union with Rome was disbanded and asking to be received into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, later the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia. Greek Catholic bishop Blessed Pavel Petro Gojdic of Presov along with his auxiliary, Blessed Basil Hopko, were imprisoned and bishop Gojdic died in prison in 1960.

During the Prague Spring in 1968, the former Greek Catholic parishes were allowed to restore communion with Rome. Of the 292 parishes involved, 205 voted in favor. This was one of the few reforms by Dubcek that survived the Soviet invasion the same year. However, most of their church buildings remained in the hands of Orthodox Church.

After communism was overthrown in the 1989 Velvet Revolution, most of the Church property was returned to the Slovak Greek Catholic Church by 1993, the year after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. For Greek Catholics in the Czech Republic, a separate Apostolic Vicariate was created, elevated in 1996 to an Exarchate (now considered part of Ruthenian Catholic Church); the 2007 Annuario Pontificio indicated that it had by then grown to having 177,704 faithful, 37 priests and 25 parishes.

In Slovakia itself, Pope John Paul II created an Apostolic Exarchate of Kosice in 1997. Pope Benedict XVI raised this to the level of an Eparchy on January 30, 2008 and at the same time erected the new Byzantine-rite Eparchy of Bratislava. He also raised Presov to the level of a metropolitan see, constituting the Slovak Greek Catholic Church as a sui iuris metropolitan Church. At that date there were only two other sui iuris metropolitan Eastern Catholic Churches: the Ethiopian Catholic Church and the Ruthenian Metropolia of Pittsburgh.