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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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Christine ChaillotIntroduction 1


Christine Chaillot Introduction In 2005 I published a collection of articles, A Short History of the Orthodox Church in Western Europe in the 20th Century. The aim of the present book is to present an introduction to the history of the Orthodox churches in eastern Europe in the twentieth century, in nineteen countries. Some of these countries are situated in central Europe rather than east- ern Europe, but our title was already too long to include this precision. The events experienced by the Orthodox churches of the dif ferent eastern European countries in the twentieth century are, of course, closely linked to the tormented and very complex political history of Europe during this period, which also involved numerous changes of borders. In this book we shall also touch on the history of Europe as a whole. The countries are named here according to the geographical borders of the end of the twentieth century. Since the political history of eastern Europe is often not very well known, we recommend in our bibliography a number of general titles, some with historical maps. Politics has much inf luenced the history of the Orthodox churches. In our articles we shall see that the relations between the Orthodox churches and the state were not without problems, especially in the states where the majority of people were non-Orthodox or non-Christian. Under com- munism in particular, but also because of other political events, numerous Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed or nationalized, and Orthodox Christians suf fered...

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