Tomos dated June 29, 1850

The decision to create an independent Kingdom of Greece from the Three Great Powers (the British Empire, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of France), finalized by the Treaty of Constantinople (1832), posed a dilemma for Greek patriarchal and religious society: whether there is an independent Greek (national) church or in the independent state extends the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.[1]

The religious jurisdictions of the Church of Greece (in blue) in Greece

The government declared the church to be autocephalous in 1833 in a political decision of the Bavarian regents acting for King Otto, who was a minor. The decision roiled Greek politics for decades as royal authorities took increasing control.

In the end, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided on a compromise that catalyzed the Bulgarian National Revival and ultimately led to the Bulgarian schism after which Bulgarians were declared ethnophyletists. The tomos dated June 29, 1850 was fastened by a royal decree of 15 August 1850, after which Law No. 201 of 9 July 1852 was adopted, called the Statute for the Holy Synod of the Greek Church. Two laws (200 and 201) were inspired by state churches in Protestant countries, in which the monarch is the formal head of the church.

Consequently the Statute decrees that the King is the head of the Greek Church. Its supreme authority was the Synod appointed by the King. A royal plenipotentiary wielded veto powers on behalf of the monarch. Between 1860 and 1923, the church was subject to royal and national politics.[2]

Until the annexation of Thessaly and Arta, the jurisdiction of the national church in Greece extended to the Arta–Volos line, and from 1881 to the present day covered the lands joined to Greece by virtue of the Convention of Constantinople (1881) (including the Ionian Islands). Mount Athos was an exception. The canonical jurisdiction only extended to territories controlled by Greece before the 1912–13 Balkan Wars. Notable exclusions are Crete, Macedonia, Thrace, and the eastern Aegean Islands. Since the 1920s, these territories are in practice administered by the Church of Greece but are formally under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

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