True Orthodoxy

True Orthodoxy, or Genuine Orthodoxy (“Church of True Orthodox Christians”; “True Orthodox Church”), often pejoratively referred to as “Zealotry“, is a movement within Eastern Orthodox Christianity that has been separated from the mainstream Eastern Orthodox Church over issues of ecumenism and calendar reform since the 1920s.


Those who consider themselves a part of this movement are a minority of those who consider themselves to be Eastern Orthodox Christians.


Most True Orthodox Christians hold to a reading of history from the age of the Apostles to the 1920s virtually identical to that of the mainstream Orthodox Church. True Orthodox Christians added the additional word “True” to distinguish themselves from those whom they believe to have abandoned Orthodox doctrine after this period. (The term orthodoxy, from Greek ὀρθοδοξία, orthodoxia, already means “correct belief” or “right opinion”.)

Timeline of the main Greek Old Calendarist and True Orthodox Churches

Timeline of the main Greek Old Calendarist and True Orthodox Churches

Because of the late departure of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) into union with the Moscow Patriarchate with the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, some jurisdictions glorify saints who are still well-regarded among mainstream Eastern Orthodox, such as St John of Shanghai and San Francisco (†1966) and St Philaret of New York (†1985).

Origin of some of the Russian True Orthodox churches

Origin of some of the Russian True Orthodox churches


Like mainstream Eastern Orthodox Christians, True Orthodox remain Chalcedonian in their Christology and accept the doctrinal authority of the Church’s Seven Ecumenical Councils. However, they strongly reject the ecumenical movement and consider most ecumenical dialogues, such as those with the non-Chalcedonians and Roman Catholics, to be invalid and unacceptable, citing canonical prohibitions against joint prayer.

Nevertheless, True Orthodox Churches are considered to have certain characteristic views and positions distinct from the Eastern Orthodox Church:

  1. They reject the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Moscow Patriarchate, and those Churches in communion with them, accusing them of heresy and placing themselves under bishops who do the same.
  2. They use the Old Julian liturgical calendar exclusively and denounce the Revised Julian calendar as a wayward, Latinising innovation.

Among those satisfying these two characteristics, there is the historically disputed requirement that they consider the sacraments of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate to be invalid and ineffectual for salvation. For the most part, True Orthodox repudiate such communion under a rejection of ecumenism and Sergianism (named after Metropolitan Sergius) as heresies, and many True Orthodox Churches have added those alleged heresies to the anathemas on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

There is less dispute on the issue of the rejection of official mysteries in the present day. However, historically this issue has been a source of disagreement. The issue of whether the EP and MP are graceless or simply viewed as incorrect persists to the present day in differences in baptism and chrismation policies (official and unofficial) among the True Orthodox Churches.


There is no single organization called the “True Orthodox Church” nor is there official recognition among the “True Orthodox” as to who is properly included among them. While some unions have taken place even up to the present, the majority of True Orthodox are only secondarily concerned with reunion as opposed to preservation of Eastern Orthodox teaching.

Organisations that are usually included in the True Orthodoxy are:

  • Greek Old Calendarists
    • Holy Synod of Milan
    • Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles
    • Autonomous Orthodox Metropolis of Ecuador and Latin America
    • True Orthodox Metropolis of Germany and Europe
  • Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church
  • Old Calendarist Romanian Orthodox Church
  • Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
    • Latvian Orthodox Autonomous Church
  • Russian True Orthodox Church (Lazar Zhurbenko)
  • Some churches descending from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
  • Serbian True Orthodox Church

Inter-church relations and intercommunion

Many True Orthodox synods do not publish information concerning other synods, citing limited interest outside of their locality. Some are open to dialogue, whereas some hierarchies are more insular and prefer to keep to themselves. For example, the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) through the late Metropolitan Valentine, stated informally that they no longer actively seek to join other True Orthodox churches, but would not refuse incoming dialogue.

A number of unions, however, between different True Orthodox bodies have taken place for limited periods of time in recent decades, even to the present. The most notable of these was the reunion between the Greek Old Calendarists and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (1971–85) and the current union of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, ROCOR under Metropolitan Agafangel (Pashkovsky), and the Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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