The Greco-Bulgarian Schism of 1872 by Vladimir Moss

August 07, 205 (Source:

In 1872, an ecclesiastical schism took place between the Greek and Bulgarian Churches that lasted until the end of the Second World War. This article is a brief examination of the main outlines of its history and causes.

In the Middle Ages the Bulgarian Church had already had a highly troubled relationship with the Great Church of Constantinople. More than once, the Bulgarian Church been granted autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Constantinople when the Bulgarian state was flourishing, only to have that autocephaly rescinded when the state declined. In 1393 Bulgaria was finally conquered by the Turks, as was Constantinople sixty years later. The Turkish Sultan then placed all the Orthodox Christians in Turkish-occupied territories under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. In 1666-67 the patriarchate formally abolished the patriarchates of Serbia and Bulgaria.

However, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Greeks, the Serbs and the Romanians gradually liberated themselves from the Turkish yoke. At the same time the independent Churches of Free Greece, Serbia and the Romanian principalities arose. Now by the 1870s the Bulgarians were the only Orthodox nation in the Balkans that had not achieved some measure of political independence through revolution. By the same token, however, they were the only nation that had not been divided by revolution. Thus the Greek revolution had divided the Greek nation between the Free State of Greece and the Ottoman Empire, and successive Serbian rebellions had divided the Serbs between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and the Free States of Serbia and Montenegro. Romania was a more-or-less independent state, but with many Romanians still outside her borders. Of the Balkan Christian nations in 1871, only the Bulgarians had no independent State or statelet. Almost all Bulgarians were all living within the borders of one State – the Ottoman empire.

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