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Serbian Orthodox Church

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Coat of arms of the Serb Orthodox Church

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Flag of the Serb Orthodox Church

The Serbian Orthodox Church Serbian Cyrillic (Српска православна црква; SPC, SOC) is a body of some 11 million Orthodox Christians united under the Serb Patriarch who includes Archbishop of Peć and Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci in his title. In this way Serbian Orthodox believers are in communion with all other Eastern Orthodox believers.

The Serb Orthodox Church includes eparchies of Orthodox believers in Serbia and Montenegro, Republika Srpska (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Hungary. The SOC also includes vicariates in Romania and Albania in accordance with the Romanian and Albanian churches. The SOC also has jurisdiction over the Serbian diaspora in the Americas, Western Europe and Australia.

The issue over the Orthodox jurisdiction in Macedonia is a subject of debate between the SOC and the Macedonian Orthodox Church which has yet to gain recognition of autonomy from the SOC although it does operate on the territory of the former Yugoslav republic.

Contents

History

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Early history

The Serbs migrated to the Balkans during the reign of Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641). Unknown to them at the time, the Serbs had settled on both sides of the line of Roman emperor Theodosius I. The region they had settled had for centuries been alternatively under the religious jurisdictions of Rome and Constantinople. The Serbs were converted to Christianity in several waves of, the last major one taking place between 867 and 874 AD.

Finally, most of the Serbs fell under the authority of the Church of Constantinople and had by 1219 acquired a Church of autocephalous status.

Following the arrival of the Ottomans and mass migrations of Serbs to lands under the Catholic Habsburgs of Austria, a portion of the Eastern Orthodox Serbs were uniatized under pressure, that is converted to Roman Catholicism while maintaining the Eastern Rite. The descendants of some these Serbs, living mostly in Žumberak are under a separate jurisdiction, the Eparchy of Krizevci.

In the 20th century, the Church was favored by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia nationalized a large amount of its belongings.

Recent history

The Yugoslav wars gravely impacted several branches of the Serb Orthodox Church.

Many churches in Croatia were damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the war in that country in 1991. The bishops and priests and most faithful of the eparchies of Zagreb, of Karlovac, of Slavonia and of Dalmatia became refugees. The latter three were almost completely abandoned after the exodus of the Serbs from Croatia in 1995. The eparchy of Dalmatia also had its see temporarily moved to Knin after Republic of Serbian Krajina was established. The eparchy of Slavonia had its see moved from Pakrac to Daruvar.

The eparchies of Bihać-Petrovac, Dabar-Bosnia and Zvornik-Tuzla were also dislocated due to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The eparchy see of Dabar-Bosnia was temporarily moved to Sokolac, and the see of Zvornik-Tuzla to Bijeljina. Over a hundred Church-owned objects in the Zvornik-Tuzla eparchy were destroyed or damaged during the war. Many monasteries and churches in the Zahumlje eparchy were also destroyed. Numerous faithful from these eparchies also became refugees.

By 1998, the situation stabilized in both countries. Most of the property of the Serb Orthodox Church was again put in normal use, the bishops and priests returned, and that which was destroyed, damaged or vandalized was restored. The process of rebuilding several churches is still under way, notably the cathedral of the Upper Karlovac Eparchy in Karlovac. The return of the SOC faithful also started, but they are not nearly close to their pre-war numbers, as of 2004.

Structure

Serbian Orthodox Church is divided into 40 dioceses each headed by its own Archiepiscope:

In the Balkans:

Abroad:

Dioceses are further divided into Episcopal Deaneries, each consisting of several Church Congregations and Parishes. Church Congregations consist of one or more Parishes. Parish is the smallest Church unit - a communion of Orthodox faithful congregating at the Holy Eucharist with the parish priest at their head.

External links

de:Serbisch-Orthodoxe Kirche sr:Српска православна црква

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