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The Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Edited By Christine Chaillot

It is common knowledge that the majority of the population of Eastern Europe belong to the Christian Orthodox tradition. But how many people have an adequate knowledge of the past or even of the present of these Orthodox churches? This book aims to present an introduction to this history written for a general audience, both Christian and non-Christian.
After the 1917 revolution in Russia, communism spread to most of the countries of Eastern Europe. By 1953, at the time of Stalin’s death, the division between Eastern and Western Europe seemed absolute. However, the advent of perestroika at the end of the 1980s brought about political changes that have enabled the Orthodox Church to develop once again in Eastern Europe.
The foundation of the European Union in 1993 has had a broader significance for Orthodox communities, who can now participate in the future development of Europe. Some Orthodox Churches already have their representatives at the European Union in Brussels. These include the patriarchates of Constantinople, Russia and Romania, along with the Church of Greece and the Church of Cyprus.
Today, Europe is becoming increasingly religiously diverse, even within Christianity itself. A growing number of Orthodox Christians have come to work and settle in Western Europe. An understanding of the history of the Orthodox communities in Eastern Europe in the twentieth century will contribute, in a spirit of informed dialogue, to the shaping of a new united Europe that is still in the process of expansion.
This book is translated from the French version (published 2009).


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Metropolitan Kallistos of DiokleiaForeword ix


Foreword We Orthodox think of Orthodoxy as the ‘Church of Holy Tradition’, steadfastly guarding ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ ( Jude 3), ‘nei- ther deleting anything nor adding anything’, as the fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) af firmed. Yet at the same time we recognize that this unchanging Tradition has to be combined with personal experience, and needs to be rethought and relived in each new generation. To quote a leading Russian theologian of the twentieth century, Vladimir Lossky (1903–58), ‘The only true Tradition is living and creative, formed by the union of human freedom with the grace of the Holy Spirit.’ Lossky adds that Tradition represents ‘the critical spirit of the Church’. In this present book, skilfully edited by Christine Chaillot, we see how this ‘Holy Tradition’, always unchanging yet always living and creative, has been re-experienced by the Orthodox Christians of eastern Europe in the twentieth century. An earlier work, likewise edited by Christine Chaillot, A Short History of the Orthodox Church in Western Europe in the 20th Century,1 described the establishment and growth of eastern Christian communities in western lands not historically associated with Orthodoxy. The compan- ion volume now before us surveys the vicissitudes of Orthodoxy in its home territories during the same period. Like its predecessor, this new work is vivid and practical, full of detailed information not otherwise easily acces- sible. Once more in common with its predecessor, it raises many disturbing questions in the reader’s mind concerning the...

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