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The Orthodox presence in Portugal is both recent and modest. The appearance of the Orthodox faith in Portugal predates the wave of immigration from Eastern Europe that started in the 1990s. Already in the 1970s, a Portuguese Augustinian monk (Gabriel João da Rocha) went to Paris where he converted to Orthodox Christianity. Back in Portugal, he began to hold celebrations, in 1976, in Lisbon. From a canonical point of view, that Portuguese branch of the Orthodox Church, led by Gabriel, belonged to the Orthodox Church of Poland. The illness of Bishop (since 1978) Gabriel in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to a very controversial period during which most of the faithful and priests left. Called the Igreja ortodoxa de Portugal - Orthodox (Catholic) Church of Portugal, this church, which practically died out, ended up losing the support of the Orthodox Church in Poland and what remains of it has no canonical recognition, but it has a branch in Brazil. A few families of Greek origin were also already present in Portugal since the 1970s. These considerations about the beginnings of orthodox Christianity in Portugal explain the existence of Orthodox in the censuses of 1981, therefore, at a date prior to the Eastern European immigration flow.
The total number of Orthodox in Portugal today is estimated at 55,000 - 65,000. Although they only represented in the last census of 2011 just around 0.6% of the population, its quantitative evolution since 2001 had displayed in a growth rate of some 580%.
Orthodox churches in Portugal nowadays belong to the Patriarchate of Constantinople or Moscow. There are also the Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine - Patriarchate of Kiev. Despite the existence of a community belonging to their homeland Patriarchate, the great majority of Ukrainians attend services in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, together with Byelorussians, Moldavians, and Russians. The Eastern European migration to Portugal is an example of a phenomenon of transnationalization that reinforces religious ethnicity and traditionalism.
A survey from 2007 shows that there were at that time 17 Orthodox worship places, most of them belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, spread in 9 towns but with a greater representation in the metropolitan area of Lisbon. Some of these churches are served by priests either residing there or coming from Spain. Spain is also home to the three bishops (one Greek, one Russian and one Romanian) who have jurisdiction over the Orthodox throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

FERRO, M. (2005), “L’orthodoxie au Portugal”, in C. CHAILLOT (ed.), Histoire de l’Église orthodoxe en Europe occidentale au 20e siècle. Paris: Dialogue entre orthodoxes, p. 97-103.
VILAÇA, Helena (2008), Imigração, etnicidades e religião: o papel das comunidades religiosas na integração dos imigrantes da Europa de leste. Lisboa: Observatório da Imigração (OI) e Alto Comissariado para a Imigração e o Diálogo Intercultural.

D 1 May 2020    AHelena Vilaça ASerge Model

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