Greek Old Calendarists

From Academic Kids

Greek Old Calendarists (Greek: Παλαιοημερολογίτες, Paleoimerologites) are groups that separated from the Orthodox Church of Greece or from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, precipitated by disagreement over the retention of the Julian Calendar.


Up to the early 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church used the Julian Calendar universally, not accepting the calendric reforms of the Roman Pope Gregory XIII. Traditionally Orthodox Christian countries, including Russia, Greece, and Romania did not use the Gregorian Calendar for civil and governmental affairs up through the first decade of the 20th century. The Gregorian calendar was imposed in Russia in 1918 by a decree of the Council of People's Commissars, but only on civil affairs. Greece did not adopt a civil Gregorian calendar until 1923. In 1924, the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted to accept an altered form of the Gregorian calendar that maintained the traditional Julian calendar Paschalion for calculating the date of Pascha.

(It must be noted that the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox jurisdictions have not adopted the revised Gregorian calendar and still use the Julian. Thus, the majority of Orthodox Christians worldwide do use the Julian calendar for religious observation while using the modern calendar for daily life.)

The calendar change was not without controversy, and dissent arose from among both clergy and laity. In 1935, three Bishops from the Church of Greece returned their dioceses to the Julian calendar, consecrated four like-minded clergy to Episcopal dignity, created the church of the "Genuine Orthodox Christians" (Greek: Εκκλησία των Γνησίων Ορθοδόξων Χριστιανών - Γ.Ο.Χ.), and declared and that the official Orthodox Church of Greece had fallen into schism. By 1937, the number of Old Calendarist Bishops had been reduced to four, and the movement split within itself over the question of whether or not Orthodox jurisdictions that had adopted the modified Gregorian Calendar were still Orthodox.

After some initial success in attracting followers, the popularity of Old Calendarism waned in Greece, where the Church of Greece is the official state church; the Old Calendarists were relatively more successful in the United States, where religion is not regulated by the state. Until the early forties, old-calendarists comprised a majority of the Greeks in the U.S.; as new immigrants poured in from Greece after WWII, their percentage dwindled to a small minority.

The Old Calendarists went their own way without further recognition from the broader Orthodox communion until 1960, when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) consecrated new Bishops for one of the two major Old Calendrist factions. ROCOR recognized the other major faction in 1971. However, no official links exist between the Greek Old Calendarists and ROCOR at the present day.

In 1998, plagued by a decline in membership and financial difficulties, the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians in the United States accepted the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S. (which uses the Gregorian Calendar, but reports to the Patriarch in the Fanar which still uses the Julian chalendar and is therefore not considered "schismatic"). In exchange, their priests were accepted as Orthodox priests, and their churches were allowed to maintain their use of the Julian calendar. It is expected that the churches in Greece will soon come to a similar arrangement. Old Calendarist churches in the U.S. not affiliated with the "Genuine Orthodox" church are still operating independently.

In the present day, there are four major Old Calendarist divisions present in Greece, all of whom have parishes in many other countries.


Greek Old Calendarists prefer to adhere to traditional Greek Orthodox practices. While they are called (and might informally call themselves) "Old Calendarist", many maintain that they have not separated over a mere calendar. Instead, the calendar is a symptom of what has been called "the arch-heresy of ecumenism". On the other hand, many other Old Calendarists insist that the calendar is a matter of dogma (although no statements from an Ecumenical Council or accepted Patristic literature make such a claim). Many Old Calendarists maintain that they have "walled themselves off" from larger Orthodox jurisdictions to protect Orthodoxy from heretical innovations in practices and doctrine.

Other than the calendar issue, Old Calendarists generally maintain the rites and beliefs of the Church of Greece, although there are other important differences on Baptism and Monophysites. Each church rejects the leaders of the other; some accept baptisms, weddings and funerals performed by the other church. Some Old Calendarists have gone so far as to reject even the baptisms of any and all Orthodox Christians in communion with the Church of Greece. This position is based on the belief that only the Church has Sacraments, there are no heresies within the Church, and therefore, the State Church is without a true Baptism.

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