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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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Catholic 87.2% (includes Roman Catholic 86.9% and Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Byzantine-Slavic Catholic .3%), Orthodox 1.3% (almost all are Polish Autocephalous Orthodox), Protestant 0.4% (mainly Augsburg Evangelical and Pentacostal), other 0.4% (includes Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon), unspecified 10.8% (2012 est.)
The creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine that happened early this year is the strategically important achievement leading to our independence.
In 1992, at the ruins of the Soviet past, there were three churches - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
There is a possibility of serious conflict because Ukraine has an extremely diverse religious life and Ukraine's Orthodox believers are divided among three Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church based on the Moscow Patriarchate, the Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Before Sunday's council in Kiev, there were three Orthodox Church branches in Ukraine: Now, priests from the Kiev Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Church become members of the new church - the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
* At a ceremony on Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople signed the agreement on the recognition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as autocephalous.
Vladimir Legoida, a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman, said on September 28 that it will "break the Eucharistic communion" with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate if it makes the Ukrainian church autocephalous.
The Church split from the Patriarchate and became autocephalous. Conflict with the Ottoman Empire became regular, and Greece tripled its size in a series of wars that culminated in 1913 and made the country less hospitable to Slavs despite their Orthodoxy.
We can now appreciate James Burtchaell's insight that in denying the direct authority of the Church over the Catholic university, Land O'Lakes did not reject the pretensions and prerogatives of a church but rather defined the Catholic university itself as an autocephalous church, invested with its own redemptive powers.
Metropolitan Timotej confirmed for Sloboden pecat that such a letter had been sent yet he explained that what the letter called for is granting the Macedonian Church an autocephalous status and nothing more.