The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents, primarily in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. It is the religious denomination of the majority of the populations of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus. It teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles almost 2,000 years ago. The Orthodox Church is composed of several self-governing ecclesial bodies, each geographically and nationally distinct but theologically unified. Each self-governing (or autocephalous) body, often but not always encompassing a nation, is shepherded by a Holy Synod whose duty, among other things, is to preserve and teach the apostolic and patristic traditions and related church practices.
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