Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Union Between Both Ukrainian Orthodox Churches Separated From Moscow

Patriarch Filaret
(Kiev) The two non-canonically recognized Orthodox churches of Ukraine have agreed to merge. On September 14, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate will unite under the leadership of Patriarch Filaret and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Macarius in a Union. In Ukraine there are three Orthodox churches, each raise the claim to be legitimate representative of Orthodoxy. Only one of the three churches is canonically recognized, namely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Moscow Patriarchate. The other two churches are considered in Orthodoxy to be schismatic. This refers to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, which broke away in 1991 in the wake of Ukraine's independence from Moscow. Similarly, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, originated in the 1920s during the anti-communist struggle for freedom in Ukraine. Both see themselves as autocephalous churches of Orthodoxy, but this was not previously recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the canonical Orthodoxy.

No Exact Figures on Membership of the Three Orthodox Churches of Ukraine

Precise details relating to religious and confessional affiliation are missing. All information is in agreement that the vast majority of Ukrainians consider themselves Christians, and among them, the Orthodox are most numerous. Less well known is which of the three Orthodox communities do Orthodox Ukrainians feel they belong. Even less is known about the displacements, which have occurred within the Orthodox community by the civil war in eastern Ukraine. Observers say that the war had strengthened the commitment to the Kyivan Patriarchate.

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Kiev Patriarchate should now represent in each case about 25 percent of Ukrainians. The Autocephalous Orthodox represent a share of 2-3 percent.

Treaty of Union Between the Two "schismatic" Ukrainian Churches

The Kiev Patriarchate and Autonomous Orthodox Church have now decided to unite. The ceremony will take place in Kiev Saint Sophia Cathedral on the 14th of September. The two Churches hope the merger will receive recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. A representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch was present at the signing of the Treaty of Union, and certified the contract by signing. The Union shall be called Ukrainian Autocephalous Church of the Kiev Patriarchate. The merger will bring more clarity in the Ukraine, but also raises new questions. It is still unsettled who will head the Union. The Autocephalous Church has not yet agreed that the 80-year Kiev Patriarch Filaret is recognized as a leader. It could also require the election of a head. Between Kyiv and the Moscow Patriarchate in 2014 talks about a reunion had been decided, but which have not yet been implemented. The Moscow Patriarchate has not commented on the Union plans. The merger is without a signal to recognize the authority of Moscow, could burden the search for the unity of Orthodoxy at the pan-Orthodox Council of 2016.

15 percent of Catholics Centered in Western Ukraine

The share of Latin and Greek Catholics is 15 percent of the population. More than 12 percent of Ukrainians belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church united with Rome. Other two and a half percent to the Latin Church.

The evangelical and Pentecostal communities have grown since the independence of Ukraine. Some of the missionary activity is carried out directly from the United States. The Russian occupied or at least majority Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine (the east and the border with Moldova) have a significantly higher number of registered evangelical groups. Statistics, where the registered churches are located, however, do not reflect the actual number of believers again.The proportion of various Protestant communities in the total population is estimated at about fifteen percent. The lowest share they have is in western Ukraine in the areas where the majority Greek Catholic areas. Plus, there's around four per cent Muslims, mainly Tatars, 0.2 percent Jews and as many members of other religions.The rest are atheists and agnostics.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Orthodoxy Trans; Tancred vekron99@hotmail.com

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