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“Autocephaly,” from Gk. autos (self) and kephalē (head), denotes the decentralized form of organization in the Orthodox Church that recognizes selfdetermination in each sphere of jurisdiction. An autocephalous church is one that enjoys total independence canonically and administratively; it elects its own bishops and own head (whether “patriarch,” “archbishop,” or “metropolitan”). The overall Orthodox Church is thus not a single constitutional unit (Church Government) but a spiritual fellowship of the various autocephalous churches, which are united by a common faith, ch…

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Papakonstantinou, Christophoros, “Autocephaly”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 24 February 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_A776>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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