Orthodox Church of Alexandria

From Academic Kids

The Orthodox Church of Alexandria is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches. Its head bishop is the Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria and All Africa, who, like the Coptic Pope and the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, claims to have succeeded the Apostle Mark the Evangelist in the office of Bishop of Alexandria, who founded the Church in the 1st century. It is one of the five ancient patriarchates of the early Church, called the Pentarchy.

Because this church uses the Greek language liturgy, it is one of several churches that are sometimes referred to as the Greek Orthodox Church.

History

Since the schism occurring as a result of the political and Christological controversies at the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.), the portion of the Church of Alexandria loyal to Chalcedonian Christology has liturgically been Greek-speaking, the majority of its native (i.e., Coptic) population and their modern descendants becoming a part of the Coptic Orthodox Church (i.e., non-Chalcedonian).

The Church today

In recent years, a considerable missionary effort was enacted by Pope Petros VII. During his seven years as patriarch (1997-2004), he worked tirelessly to spread the Orthodox Christian faith in Arab nations and throughout Africa, raising up native clergy and encouraging the use of local languages in the liturgical life of the Church. Particularly sensitive to the nature of Christian expansion into Muslim countries, His Beatitude worked to promote mutual understanding and respect between Orthodox Christians and Muslims. His efforts were ended as the result of a helicopter crash on September 11, 2004, in the Aegean Sea near Greece, killing him and several other clergy, including Bishop Nectarios of Madagascar, another bishop with a profound missionary vision.

Today, some 300,000 Orthodox Christians comprise the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the highest number since the Roman Empire. The current primate of the Church of Alexandria is His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.

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