Greek Old Calendarists

Greek Old Calendarists

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Greek Old Calendarists (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: Παλαιοημερολογίτες, Paleoimerologites) are groups that separated from the Orthodox Church
Church of Greece
The Church of Greece , part of the wider Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the autocephalous churches which make up the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

 of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 or from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, precipitated by disagreement over the abandonment of the traditional Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

.

History


Up until the early 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 used the Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 universally, not accepting the calendar reform
Calendar reform
A calendar reform is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar.Most calendars have several rules which could be altered by reform:...

 by Pope Gregory XIII
Pope Gregory XIII
Pope Gregory XIII , born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally-accepted civil calendar to this date.-Youth:He was born the son of Cristoforo Boncompagni and wife Angela...

, who introduced the modern Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

. Currently, there is a difference of 13 days between the two calendars.

Traditionally, Orthodox Christian territories spanning Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and Ottoman Palestine
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, did not use the Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 for civil and governmental affairs until after the first decade of the 20th century. The Gregorian calendar was introduced in Communist Russia in 1918 by a decree of the Council of the People's Commissars
Council of the People's Commissars
The Council of People's Commissars , was a government institution formed shortly after the October Revolution in 1917. Created in the Russian Republic the council laid foundations in restructuring the country to form the Soviet Union...

, but the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, as well as a majority of Orthodox Churches, have continued to use the Julian calendar liturgically to this day. Greece did not adopt a civil Gregorian calendar until 1923. In response, in 1924, the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Greece
Church of Greece
The Church of Greece , part of the wider Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the autocephalous churches which make up the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

 voted to accept an altered form of the Gregorian calendar that both maintained the traditional Julian calendar Paschalion for calculating the date of Pascha
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and all of the moveable feasts
Paschal cycle
The Paschal cycle in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, is the cycle of the moveable feasts built around Pascha . The cycle consists of approximately ten weeks before and seven weeks after Pascha. The ten weeks before Pascha are known as the period of the Triodion...

 dependent on it, but adopted a system of dates which will agree with the Gregorian Calendar ("New Calendar") dates until 2800, when the two will start very slowly to diverge, due to slightly different methods of calculating leap year
Leap year
A leap year is a year containing one extra day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year...

s. The result was the so-called Revised Julian calendar
Revised Julian calendar
The Revised Julian calendar, also known as the Rectified Julian calendar, or, less formally, New calendar, is a calendar, originated in 1923, which effectively discontinued the 340 years of divergence between the naming of dates sanctioned by those Eastern Orthodox churches adopting it and the...

.

The calendar change was not without controversy. Dissent arose from among both clergy and laity, encouraged by countless priests and monks from all over Greece and Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

 who traveled throughout Greece preaching in churches and serving as confessor
Confessor
-Confessor of the Faith:Its oldest use is to indicate a saint who has suffered persecution and torture for the faith, but not to the point of death. The term is still used in this way in the East. In Latin Christianity it has come to signify any saint, as well as those who have been declared...

s, or spiritual guides, to thousands of Christians. In 1935, three Bishops from the Church of Greece returned their dioceses to the Julian calendar, consecrated four like-minded clergy to Episcopal dignity, created the church of the "Genuine Orthodox Christians" (Greek: Εκκλησία των Γνησίων Ορθοδόξων Χριστιανών - Γ.Ο.Χ.), and declared that the official Orthodox Church of Greece had fallen into schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

. By 1937, the movement split within itself over the question of whether or not Orthodox jurisdictions that had adopted the Revised Julian calendar were still Orthodox.

After a largely successful grassroots effort to resist the State of Greece's new doctrine and Roman Catholic influenced calendar, the popularity of the Old Calendar was attacked. The Church of Greece is the official state church
State church
State churches are organizational bodies within a Christian denomination which are given official status or operated by a state.State churches are not necessarily national churches in the ethnic sense of the term, but the two concepts may overlap in the case of a nation state where the state...

 and resorted to the use of state power to suppress the movement. By the 1960s and 1970s, the ecumenical
Ecumenism
Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

 activities of a number of Orthodox leaders infused the Old Calendar Church with new followers in Greece, particularly from 1965-1972 when the monasteries of Mount Athos broke communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Old Calendarists were relatively more successful in the United States, where religion is not regulated by the state.
The Old Calendarists went their own way without further official recognition from the broader Orthodox communion until 1960, when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 (ROCOR) consecrated new Bishops for one of the two major Old Calendarist jurisdictions. ROCOR recognized the other major jurisdiction in 1971. However, no official intercommunion exists between the Greek Old Calendarists and ROCOR at the present day, due to the recent reunification of ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 (Moscow Patriarchate) except with that part of ROCOR which did not unite with Moscow [ruschurchabroad.com].

In 1998, plagued by moral and financial scandals, two bishops that had broken off from the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians in the United States were re-baptized and re-ordained by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and put under the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S. (which uses the Revised Julian calendar). In exchange, the few priests that went with them were accepted as Orthodox priests, and their churches were allowed to maintain their use of the Julian calendar. Later these parishes were then forced to switch to the Revised Julian calendar.

In the present day, there are three major Old Calendarist divisions present in Greece, all of which have parishes in many other countries. The first one is the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece (GOC), the second are generally known as "Matthewites" as they derive from Archbishop Matthew, and the third and smallest are called the Makarians (formerly called the Lamians) who broke off from the GOC in 1995. Relationships between the Matthewites and GOC are warming but the Makarians are not accepted by either of these Orthodox Churches.

Doctrine


Greek Old Calendarists adhere to traditional Greek Orthodox practices. While they are called (and might informally call themselves) "Old Calendarist," many maintain that they have not separated over a mere calendar. Instead, the calendar is a symptom of what has been called "the pan-heresy of ecumenism
Ecumenism
Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

." Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians hold that the participation of many local Orthodox Churches in the modern ecumenistic movement is theologically problematic. Many have argued that even the calendar is a matter of dogma since it has historically manifested the unity and catholicity of the Church and that the reformation of the Church Calendar in 1924 was unilaterally adopted and was connected with the beginning of Orthodox participation in the modern ecumenical movement. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar has been anathematized by three Pan-Orthodox Councils in the 16th century. Some Old Calendarists maintain that they have "walled themselves off" from larger Orthodox jurisdictions to protect Orthodoxy from heretical innovations in practices and doctrine.

Other than the calendar issue, Old Calendarists generally maintain the rites and beliefs of the Church of Greece, although there are other important differences on Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 and the Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

. Each church rejects the leaders of the other. Some accept baptisms performed by the other church. Officially, however, each side receives the members of the other through Chrismation
Chrismation
Chrismation is the name given in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East, Anglican, and in Lutheran initiation rites, to the Sacrament or Sacred Mystery more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian...

.

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