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adj. Christianity
Having a head bishop who is not responsible to any higher-ranking ecclesiastical authority. Used of churches in the Eastern Orthodox communion.

[From Byzantine Greek autokephalos : auto-, auto- + kephalos, head; see ghebh-el- in Indo-European roots.]

au′to·ceph′a·ly (-lē) n.


1. (Eastern Church (Greek & Russian Orthodox)) (of an Eastern Christian Church) governed by its own national synods and appointing its own patriarchs or prelates
2. (Ecclesiastical Terms) (of a bishop) independent of any higher governing body
autocephalic adj
ˌautoˈcephaly n


(ˌɔ təˈsɛf ə ləs)

1. (of an Eastern church) having its own head bishop, though in communion with other Orthodox churches.
2. (of an Eastern bishop) subordinate to no superior authority.
[1860–65; < Late Greek autoképhalos having its own head]
References in periodicals archive ?
Only the bishops from northern Greece belonging to the Greek autocephalous church and no other church can be referred to as Macedonian.
Unless the Bulgarian Orthodox Church wants t be treated as schismatic again, they must not meddle in the life of another autocephalous church (the Serbian Orthodox Church), says Bishop Irinej of Backa in his interview with Serbian newspaper Pecat.
The council was attended by 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches that accepted six (previously drafted) documents during the gathering.
These matters arose primarily as a result of the system of canonical structure within our Church, which comprises many local autocephalous churches, each of which freely regulates its own affairs through its own decisions.
The polls that demonstrate that more and more orthodox Ukrainians would like to have, as it is in most of the orthodox countries, the only one local Ukrainian autocephalous church, were also taken into account, the President said.
The 10-day event was envisaged to be the first-of-a-kind meeting of Orthodox leaders (the bishops of all universally recognized, or autocephalous local and national Orthodox churches) since the Schism of 1054.
The autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus exists for almost two millennia.
Generally, regarding the Orthodoxes, in all Balkans, if we rely on the opinion of Denford "the building of autocephalous churches was considered to be necessary step in the process of the creation of nations-states.
Renouncing his calling as a priest, Archbishop Constantin Krotevitch, head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, today declared that an analysis of his past ecclesiastical activities had convinced him that the Church was harmful to humanity and hostile to the Soviet regime.
Orthodoxy is represented worldwide by several autocephalous and autonomous churches which make up a hierarchy headed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and at the opposite pole there are representations of these churches such as the Church of Japan or Finland.
As Herman Pottmeyer notes, without a center of unity and ministry of communion, the Eastern Church "saw its unity disintegrate into a multiplicity of autocephalous or autonomous churches, which have not found their way to a workable communion among themselves.
The messiness of the ecclesiastical apparatus in the middle is striking: provinces, patriarchates, autocephalous churches, episcopal conferences and assemblies, all variously shaped bodies coming into being at some historical point