In recent years, a considerable missionary effort was enacted by Pope Petros VII. During his seven years as patriarch (1997-2004), he worked tirelessly to spread the Orthodox Christian faith in Arab nations and throughout Africa, raising up native clergy and encouraging the use of local languages in the liturgical life of the Church. Particularly sensitive to the nature of Christian expansion into Muslim countries, His Beatitude worked to promote mutual understanding and respect between Orthodox Christians and Muslims. His efforts were ended as the result of a helicopter crash on September 11, ], in the Aegean Sea near Greece, killing him and several other clergy, including Bishop Nectarios of Madagascar, another bishop with a profound missionary vision.
Today, some 300,000 Orthodox Christians comprise the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the highest number since the Roman Empire. The current primate of the Church of Alexandria is His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria (http://www.greekorthodox-alexandria.org/) (Official site)
EasternOrthodox ecclesiology is "Christocentric", viewing Christ Jesus as the head of the Church, and the Church as his body; with authority derived directly from this relationship.
In the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite, this was achieved through the use of Ecclesiastical Latin; in the Orthodoxchurches the altar area was surrounded by pillars with curtains in between.
Alexandria, for example, traces its papacy back to Mark the Evangelist, who founded the church in Alexandria in AD (In Alexandria, two primates call themselves "Pope" and claim to be the successor of the apostle Mark: the EasternOrthodoxPatriarch of Alexandria, also called the "Pope of Africa", and the Coptic Pope.
Orthodox acceptance of the seven councils resulted in the exclusion from their communion, on grounds of heresy, of the Nestorian, Jacobite, Coptic, and Armenian churches; it also involves holding a sacramental doctrine of grace ex opere operato (see grace) and of veneration of the Virgin Mary, two points differentiating the Orthodox from Protestants.
The number of Orthodoxchurches recognizing one another as such is indefinite because of the fluid state of the relations of Orthodoxbishops in countries to which communicants have emigrated.
The Orthodoxchurches of Finland and of Poland, founded after World War I, lost most of their members when the eastern sections of the countries were repossessed by the Soviet Union in World War II.
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