Russian Orthodox Religion
The Russian Orthodox Religion also known as The Moscow Patriarchate since (1943) and known as the Orthodox Christian Church of Russia prior to that. It is considered as another Eastern Orthodox Church aligned with the Roman Catholic Church.
The church that became the Russian Orthodox Religion was believed to be founded by the Apostle Andrew, who is thought to have visited Scythia and Greek colonies along the northern coast of the Black Sea.
According to one of the legends, Andrew reached the future location of Kiev and foretold the foundation of a great Christian city. The spot where he reportedly erected a cross is now marked by St. Andrew's Cathedral.
The church is reported to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world and second only to the Roman Catholic Church among Christian churches, numbering over 135 million members world wide and growing since the late 1980s.
The Church is comprised of 157 dioceses including 29,263 parishes served by 203 bishops, 27,216 priests and 3,454 deacons. There are 804 monasteries, including 478 in the Russian Federation, 87 theological schools, including 5 theological academies and 38 seminaries.
Administratively, the Church is organized in a hierarchical structure. The lowest level of organization, which normally would be a single church building and its attendees, headed by a priest who acts as Father superior and constitute a parish which belong to a diocese and diocese are governed by bishops.
Although the Patriarch of Moscow has extensive powers, unlike the Pope, he does not have the direct authority over matters pertaining to faith.
Some of the most fundamental issues (such as the ones responsible for the Catholic-Orthodox split) could not be decided even at the level of the Local Council and would have to be dealt with by a council of representatives from all Eastern Orthodox Churches. The last time such a council was held was in 787.
Following the tribulations of the Mongol invasion, the Russian Church was pivotal in the survival and life of the Russian state as the Mongols were generally tolerant and even granted tax exemption to the Church. Such holy figures as Sergius of Radonezh and Metropolitan Alexis helped the country to withstand years of Tatar oppression, and to expand both economically and spiritually.
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