News / Europe

    Ukrainian Orthodox Churches Face Own Crisis

    Archbishop Clement of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, center, walks past a pro-Russian armored vehicle, soldiers, Ukrainian military base, Perevalne, March 15, 2014.
    Archbishop Clement of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, center, walks past a pro-Russian armored vehicle, soldiers, Ukrainian military base, Perevalne, March 15, 2014.
    It is a relatively quiet Sunday and adherents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate are praying at St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral.

    Last month, the grounds of this picturesque monastic complex sheltered a field hospital and morgue for Maidan protesters battling to oust president Viktor Yanukovych.
     
    The clergy of the Kyiv Patriarchate blessed the anti-government protesters and rolled up their cassock sleeves to help build barricades themselves.

    But now, openly critical of Russia's Crimean takeover, Archbishop Yevstraty talks with visitors in the gardens where bird song has replaced the rage and pain of revolution.

    While most of the world saw the dramatic ouster of the Moscow-allied Yanukovych as purely a political event, there was a powerful religious undertone that was setting the stage for a major realignment of Orthodox Christianity throughout the country.

    As the archbishop recalls the street brawls and retort of sniper fire, he says the church defied Yanukovych and barred Special Forces from deploying on church grounds.
     
    The larger Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate is an autonomous church that is a subordinate of the Russian Orthodox Church - positioned itself above the Maidan protests, praying for reconciliation and urging dialogue.

    But some senior figures were openly critical, with one bishop saying Maidan protesters had "evil in their hearts." The Moscow Patriarch himself has adopted also a more neutral position on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, issuing generic pleas for peace.
     
    The Moscow Patriarchate's Father Georgy Kovalenko says his church is with the people of Ukraine and its focus has been on bringing Ukrainian people together and avoiding the conflicts of the past that gave rise to foundation of the Kyiv Patriarchate.
     
    The strategy appears to be failing. The politics of revolution and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine have widened a religious rupture that first emerged during the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Primate Filaret broke with the Russian Orthodox Church. He argued that an independent Ukraine deserved a national church truly independent of Moscow.
     
    Now some of the Moscow Patriarch's parishes are rebelling and threatening to defect to the rival Kyiv Patriarch.
     
    Archbishop Yevstraty says rebel churches in western Ukraine have dropped from the liturgy a prayer for the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, an ally of Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
     
    Of the two Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate has more parishes - 12,000 to the Kyiv Patriarchate's 5,000. But buildings don't translate into followers. Before the Maidan protests, polls suggested the Kyiv Patriarch commanded the loyalty of 30 percent of Ukrainians with 20 percent aligning with the Moscow Patriarch.
     
    Cultural historian Vladyslava Osmak suspects more of Ukraine's faithful now will switch allegiance to the Kyiv Patriarch.
     
    "Because they greatly helped to [the] participants of Maidan campaign, to those people who needed protection and shelter. Priests of this church were always together with people on barricades praying and fighting with them," said Osmak.
     
    And she argues a weakening of the Moscow Patriarchate will further reshape the cultural ties between Ukraine and Russia. That would undermine President Putin's claim that Kyiv is "the mother of Russian cities," a description based on the fact that Russian civilization and Orthodoxy were birthed in Ukraine's capital city.
     
    "Having no Kyiv makes a lot of difficulties to Russian ideology in general. Kyiv is seen as the root of Russian culture," she said.
     
    The city is also at the root of Ukrainian culture and so Kyiv seems destined to remain in dispute for some time.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    March 25, 2014 11:27 PM
    "'Having no Kyiv makes a lot of difficulties to Russian ideology in general. Kyiv is seen as the root of Russian culture,' she said."

    The root of Ukrainian culture is Uniatism.

    Let the Orthodox of Ukraine be faithful to the Church, and may they not sell their souls for the sake of a nationalism created by their Western occupiers. Raskol and apostasy are not the answer.

    Let their be peace and unity for all of Rus, especially in the region of Ukraine, known until recently as "Malorossiya."
    In Response

    by: Oksana Mikhailivna from: Ukraine
    April 22, 2014 9:49 PM
    I am an Orthodox Christian and I have always considered the story of our national conversion at the command of a medieval monarch the creation of a monarchist. It fits the needs of Russian imperial propaganda. We were received into the Orthodox Church as individuals when touched by the Holy Spirit. This process would have begun in the first century, not the tenth. Russia is for the Russians. Ukraine is for people who seek a democratic ideal.
    In Response

    by: Nick Deychakiwsky from: USA
    March 26, 2014 4:48 AM
    You're dead wrong. Ukrainian nationalism is a product of Ukrainians who are mostly Orthodox but not Russian! If you want to restore Rus, are you willing then to subjugate your Muscovy to Ukraine, whose capital is Kyiv? I think not. Stop living in the past.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.