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Polish Orthodox Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Polski Autokefaliczny Kościół Prawosławny
Coat of arms
ClassificationEastern Orthodox
PrimateArchbishop of Warsaw and Metropolitan of All Poland, Sawa Hrycuniak.
Church Slavonic
HeadquartersWarsaw, Poland
TerritoryPoland and Brazil
FounderSs. Cyril and Methodius
Independence1924, 1948
RecognitionAutocephaly recognised in 1924 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in 1948 by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Members504,400 (2016)[1]

The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Polish: Polski Autokefaliczny Kościół Prawosławny), commonly known as the Polish Orthodox Church, or Orthodox Church of Poland, is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches in full communion. The church was established in 1924, to accommodate Orthodox Christians of Polish descent in the eastern part of the country, when Poland regained its independence after the First World War.

In total, it has approximately 500,000 adherents (2016).[1] In the Polish census of 2011, 156,000 citizens declared themselves as members.[2]

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Early period of Russian Orthodoxy: 1793-1905

Following partitions of Poland and annexation of Polish territory by the Imperial Russia, the administration of Eastern Orthodox communities was carried out by the vicar bishop of Pereyaslav and Boryspil of the Kyiv Eparchy with residence in Slutsk.[3] The Eastern Orthodox population on territory of modern Poland was very scarce at that time.[3] In 1825 the administration was switched to the bishop of Minsk and in 1827 - the bishop of Volhynia.[3]

In 1834 there was established a post of the vicar bishop of Warsaw of the Volhynian eparchy.[3] Establishment of the post was partially due to the 1830-31 Polish uprising (so called November Uprising).[3] The idea to create the post of the vicar bishop of Warsaw belonged to the Namiestnik of Poland and Serence Prince of Warsaw Ivan Paskevich.[3] By 1834 in Vistula Land existed at least 6 parochial Orthodox temples and the Saint Onuphrius Monastery in Jabłeczna.[3] The first bishop became Antoni (Rafalski) who was an archimandrite of the Pochaiv Lavra.[3] The new vicar bishop was not only subordinated to the Volhynian eparchy, but also directly to the ober-procurator of the Holy Synod.[3]

Starting since 1783, on territories that were annexed in 1793, there were established Minsk Eparchy, Bratslav Eparchy, and Izyaslav Eparchy.[4] In 1939 there was established the eparchy of Wilno and Lithuania following the 1939 Polotsk Assembly which liquidated Uniate Church on territory of the Imperial Russia.[5] In 1840, the former Warsaw vicariate was transformed into a separate eparchy of Warsaw covering the whole Congress of Poland.[6]

Following the 1875 conversion of Chełm Eparchy (Eparchy of Chełm–Belz) of the Ruthenian Uniate Church, the Eparchy of Warsaw was renamed as Eparchy of Warsaw and Chełm, while Marcel Popiel who played a key role in the process was ordained as a vicar bishop of the merged diocese.

Transitional period: 1905-1924

Following the 1905 revolution in the Imperial Russia, Tsar issued the manifest “On strengthening the principles of religious tolerance” which gave start to revival of Catholicism.[6] Several parishes en masse were switching back to the Uniate Church.[6]

With start of the World War I, in 1915 the Russian Church in Poland was evacuated along with the Russian administration.[6] On territory of what it was "Warsaw Eparchy" remained about 10 priests.[6] The last archbishop of Warsaw Nicholas (Ziorov) died soon after evacuation and during the remaining time of World War I, the diocese was vacant.[6]

Following the 1917–18 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow finally appointed a new bishop to the eparchy of Warsaw whom was Seraphim (Chichagov). Seraphim (Chichagov) was never able to actually arrive to his appointed diocese due to unstable situation. To fix that in September of 1921, the Archbishop of Minsk George (Yaroshevsky) was appointed as Patriarchal Exarch in Poland.[6]

First period of the autocephalous church: 1924-1939

Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene, Warsaw, the main Polish Orthodox Church
Supraśl Orthodox Monastery in Supraśl founded by Aleksander Chodkiewicz
Meeting of the Holy Synod of the Polish Orthodox Church in 1929 (starting from left bishop Aleksiy, archbishop Theodosius, metropolitan Dionysius, bishop Alexander)

The church was established in 1924 after Poland regained independence, as the Second Polish Republic, following World War I in 1918. After the Polish–Soviet War and the Treaty of Riga of 1921, Poland secured control of a sizeable portion of its former eastern territories previously lost in the late-18th-century Partitions of Poland to the Russian Empire. Eastern Orthodoxy was widespread in the eastern provinces of interwar Poland. The loss of an ecclesiastical link, due to the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union, left the regional clergy in a crisis, and in 1924 the Ecumenical Patriarchate took over, establishing several autonomous churches on territories of the new states that were formerly wholly or partially part of the Russian Empire: Finland, the Baltic states, and Poland.[7] In 1922 a conflict ensued due intervention of the Russian Orthodox Church that approved appointment of bishops in Poland without agreement from Metropolitan of Warsaw George (Yaroshevsky).[8] The conflict was led by the Bishop of Wilno and Lida Eleftherios.[8] Several diocesan bishops along with Eleftherios of Wilno including Panteleimon (Rozhnovsky), Vladimir (Tikhonitsky) and others took stance against seeking autocephalous status for the Orthodox Church in Poland. Most of them were expelled from Poland. Bishops Eleftherios and Vladimir were also against ordination of Alexander (Inozemtsev) who was ordained as a vicar bishop of Lublin by George (Yaroshevsky) and Dionizy (Waledyński) on 4 June 1922.[9]

Earlier, in January 1922, the Polish government had issued an order recognizing the Orthodox church and placing it under the authority of the state. At that time a Ukrainian, George (Yaroshevsky), was appointed Metropolitan and exarch by the patriarch of Moscow. When Yaroshevsky began to reject the authority of Moscow Patriarchate, he was assassinated by a Russian monk.[10] Nonetheless, his successor, Dionizy (Waledyński), continued to work for the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox church, which was finally granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in his Tomos of 13 November 1924.[11] Most of the parishioners were Ukrainians and Belarusians living in the eastern areas of the newly independent Polish Second Republic. The Patriarch of Constantinople has the only canonical basis to grant the Tomos to new autocephalous churches. Moscow Patriarchate interpretes this otherwise though and considers itself being a successor of the Kyiv Metropolia, the former territory of Kyivan Rus' which Constantinople continued to see as its canonical territory (having agreed to allow Moscow to be its caretaker in 1686).[12] The Russian Orthodox Church at the time did not recognise Constantinople's granting of Polish autocephaly. See History of Christianity in Ukraine#Territories gained by Pereyaslav Rada.

During the interwar period, however, the Polish authorities imposed severe restrictions on the church and its clergy. In the most famous example, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Warsaw was destroyed in the mid-1920s. In Volhynia a total of 190 Eastern Orthodox churches were destroyed and a further 150 converted to Catholicism.[13] Several court hearings against the Pochaiv Lavra also took place.[14]

World War II: 1939-1944

Following the start of the World War II on 1 September 1939 and the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939, Poland was divided between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. For support of resistance against the Nazi Germany, the Metropolitan Dionisius was arrested, while the Church territories (dioceses) were mostly taken over by the Moscow Patriarchate and the rest were transferred under temporary administration by the Metropolitan of Berlin Seraphim (Lade) of the ROCOR, who also was assisted by Vasily (Pavlovsky).[15] At the end of 1940, Metropolitan Dionisius signed a loyalty declaration for the General Governor of Poland Hans Frank and was released from his arrest.[15] On 30 September 1940 the Bishop Council of the Polish Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Dionisius reformed the Church considering the new realities and constituted new dioceses which were 3: Diocese of Warschau and Radom, Diocese of Cholm and Podlachia, Diocese of Krakau and Lemkos.[15] On territories that became part of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, there was established separate "Orthodox Autocephalous Church on liberated territory of Ukraine" under auspices of the Polish Orthodox Church led by Polycarp (Sikorsky), a vicar bishop of Lutsk. Along with Alexander (Inozemtsev), Polycarp (Sikorsky) started to develop what later would be known as the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Another member of the Polish Orthodox Church clergy, Archbishop Alexiy (Hromadsky) in Pochaiv Lavra created in August of 1941 an opposition organization, loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate, known as Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church.

Since 1945

After the Second World War, the pre-war eastern territories of Poland were annexed by the Soviet Union and included within the Lithuanian, Byelorussian and Ukrainian SSRs. The annexed territories contained up to 80% of the PAOC's parishes and congregation, which were united with the recently re-instated Moscow Patriarchate. The remaining parishes that were now on the territory of the Polish People's Republic were kept by the PAOC, including most of the mixed easternmost territories such as around Chełm and Białystok. In 1948, after the Soviet Union established political control over Poland, the Russian Orthodox Church recognised the autocephalous status of the Polish Orthodox Church.[10][16]

Although most of the congregation is historically centered in the Eastern borderland regions with considerable Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities, there are now many parishes across the country, as a result of Operation Vistula and other diaspora movements. There are also some adherents in Brazil, resulting from the 1989 canonical union between the hierarchy headed by Metropolitan Gabriel of Lisbon, formerly under the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, and the Polish Orthodox Church.[17] The European bishops, however, have left the jurisdiction in 2000, which eventually resulted in senior Bishop Chrysostom being raised to archepiscopal dignity. There are now parishes in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco and Paraíba, plus a mission in Ceará[18] and a monastery in João Pessoa.[17][19]

In 2003, following the decision of the Holy Sobor of Bishops of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the New Martyrs of Chelm and Podlasie suffering persecution during the 1940s were canonized.[20]

Primates of the Church

The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church was established in 1924. Traditionally the primate of the church has the title Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland.


Polish Orthodox Cathedrals (examples)

The church is headed by the Archbishop of Warsaw and Metropolitan of All Poland: Sawa (Michał) Hrycuniak (1998–). It is divided into the following dioceses:[22]

Archdioceses and archbishops

Titular dioceses and bishops

  • Titular Diocese of Supraśl: Gregory (Charkiewicz) (2008–), Vicar Bishop for Białystok and Gdańsk[23]
  • Titular Diocese of Siemiatycze: George (Mariusz) Pańkowski (2007–), Ordinary for the Polish Orthodox Military Ordinariate and Vicar Bishop for Warsaw and Bielsk

Other entities

  • Polish Orthodox Military Ordinariate

Original dioceses

Dioceses of the Church before the World War II

Dioceses and bishops upon the issue of the tomos in 1924

Following the Soviet invasion of Poland, most of dioceses except for Warsaw were annexed by the Moscow Patriarchate as so called Western Exarchate centered in Lutsk. Dionizy (Waledyński) was arrested by the Nazi authorities and was placed under arrest.[15] The rest of territories were given to administration of Seraphim (Lade) of the ROCOR, who also was assisted by Vasily (Pavlovsky).[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b Główny Urząd Statystyczny, Mały Rocznik Statystyczny Polski 2016, Warszawa 2017, tab. 18(80), s. 115.
  2. ^ Paweł Ciecieląg, Andrzej Datko, Bożena Łazowska, Piotr Łysoń, Paweł Milcarek, Wojciech Sadłoń: 1050 lat chrześcijaństwa w Polsce. Warszawa: GUS, 2016, s. 73. ISBN 978-83-7027-606-5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i ВАРШАВСКОЕ ВИКАРИАТСТВО. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia)
  4. ^ МИНСКАЯ И ЗАСЛАВСКАЯ ЕПАРХИЯ. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia)
  5. ^ ВИЛЕНСКАЯ И ЛИТОВСКАЯ ЕПАРХИЯ. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g ВАРШАВСКАЯ ЕПАРХИЯ. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia)
  7. ^ M. Papierzyńska-Turek, Między tradycją a rzeczywistością. Państwo wobec prawosławia 1918–1939.
  8. ^ a b ЕЛЕВФЕРИЙ. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia).
  9. ^ Mironowicz A. Kościół prawosławny na ziemiach polskich w XIX i XX wieku, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, Białystok 2005, ISBN 8374310464.
  10. ^ a b Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Polish Autocephalous Orthodox church, accessed 2 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Tomos". Orthodox Church of America - UAOC - Standing Episcopal Conference of Orthodox Bishops. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  12. ^ "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: "As the Mother Church, it is reasonable to desire the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in Ukraine" - News Releases - The Ecumenical Patriarchate". Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  13. ^ Healy, R. and Dal Lago, E. The Shadow of Colonialism on Europe’s Modern Past.
  14. ^ (in Ukrainian) ІСТОРИЧНА ВОЛИНЬ: Спроби ревіндикації луцького Свято-Троїцького собору
  15. ^ a b c d e ДИОНИСИЙ. (Russian Orthodox Encyclopedia).
  16. ^ Russian Orthodox Church Department for External Church Relations (14 September 2018). "Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the uncanonical intervention of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church". Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  17. ^ a b (in Portuguese) Eparquia Ortodoxa do Brasil
  18. ^ "Saint John the Precursor Orthodox Church · CE-040, 39 - Patacas, Aquiraz - CE, 61700-000, Brazil".
  19. ^ (in Portuguese) Mosteiro Ortodoxo da Dormição da Santa Mãe de Deus
  20. ^ J. Charkiewicz, Męczennicy XX wieku. Martyrologia Prawosławia w Polsce w biografiach świętych.
  21. ^ Mironowicz, A. (2001). Kościół prawosławny na ziemiach polskich w XIX i XX wieku. Białystok: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku. p. 248. ISBN 83-7431-046-4.
  22. ^ (in Polish) Polish Orthodox Church: Adminstracja
  23. ^ (in Polish) Orthodox Diocese of Białystok and Gdańsk: Abp Jakub i Bp Grzegorz
  24. ^ Феодосий (Феодосиев). (Russian Orthodoxy, archived).

External links

This page was last edited on 25 June 2024, at 02:10
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