Is Ukrainain Orthodoxy in a Catch-22?

I was just reading some news items at ByzCath about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; particularly this one, which mentioned that it is unlikely that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP) will be granted autocephaly (i.e. full independence from the Russian Orthodox Church).

If I may speculate a bit, it seems to me that the Orthodox have gotten themselves into a vicious circle: those who left the UOC-MP (in particular, those in the UOC-KP, UAOC, etc.) won’t come back to it unless it is granted autocephaly. But on the other hand, so many of the voices calling for autocephaly “don’t count” because they’re “schismatic” voices.

Kind of a Catch-22.

It seems that way. I find it totally political. The Moscow Patriarchate doesn’t want to lose the control it holds in Ukraine. Ukraine’s traditional cousin (though never kissing cousins ;)) in the west, Poland, has its own autocephalous Orthodox church (I think since '23 or '24). With much of former Poland annexed to Belarus and Ukraine, it seems prime time to grant the same favor of independence to Ukraine. Of course, since time I expressed such a view, I was told it wasn’t my place to care. I’m not criticizing the Orthodox faith by any means (especially since I express my own faith by nearly identical beliefs/views)–I have known many great Orthodox people (one of which I had hoped to spend my life with, but it seems not so). Anyway, that is how I feel…

Prayers and petitions,
Alexius:cool:

I think that part of the problem for Ukraine is that those favoring an autocephalic patriarchate happen to be a minority in the country, at least that is how it seems. If they were a definite united majority they would eventually get what they hope for.

I have no horse in this race, I don’t care whether the Ukrainian church is totally autocephalic or not. I would like to see them as unified.

As westerners we are generally inclined to sympathize with Ukrainian separatism. Perhaps we would like to see Ukraine integrate into NATO, and we are happy to read that the Black Sea fleet is broken up between the Russian state and the Ukrainian state, that sort of thing. So we are predisposed to think of these as two people with separate languages, customs and traditions (when perhaps they are not so different after all, at least it is under dispute by people much closer to the situation than I). And we root for the Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarchate (perhaps even when we think the Ukrainian Catholics should not have one).

That is what makes the situation so political. Certain political factions within Ukraine want to see a complete and absolute guaranteed permanent separation from the Russian state and that has to take this church situation into account. The church is not thinking of it as two peoples (Ukrainians and Russians, as such), but one flock which have always been linked together. This may be the Russian church’s equivalent struggle with historic Gallicanism in their eyes.

Interestingly, at this point it appears to me (not really certain) that a majority of the people of Ukraine are also thinking of themselves as one flock with the rest of the Russian Synod. If that is the case, and religious affiliation is considered an important political factor in future elections, then there is going to be a lot of effort to separate the people from the ROC-MP. If they have to try very hard to do this, the effort is going to make the establishment of a separate canonical Patriarchate seem very artificial. Especially if it represents a clear minority of the people.

Of course, it is possible that the three schismatic churches in Ukraine together number more than half the religious population, and a merger of them would make a majority, but I am inclined to doubt it.

If anyone has access to the numbers it would be nice to see them.

Ditto.

In some ways yes. But on the other hand, at least one of the arguments for Ukrainian separation isn’t supported by Westerners, or at least Western Catholics – I mean the argument that Ukraine should have a separate Church because it is a separate country now.

Western Catholics general aren’t too keen on that logic; and in fact one of the most often heard complaints against the Eastern Orthodox is that they (you) are too nationalistic.

Actually my impression is that Catholics who are keen on a Ukrainian Orthodox patriarchate are also keen on a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate.

As I say, that’s just my impression; but in any case, Catholics calling for a Ukrainian Orthodox patriarchate, while opposing a Ukrainian Catholic one, would seem to me … hmm, not sure what the right word is. E.I. (ecumenically incorrect) I guess I would say.

If I may speculate a bit, it seems to me that the Orthodox have gotten themselves into a vicious circle: those who left the UOC-MP (in particular, those in the UOC-KP, UAOC, etc.) won’t come back to it unless it is granted autocephaly. But on the other hand, so many of the voices calling for autocephaly “don’t count” because they’re “schismatic” voices.

BTW, this also reminds me of something said recently about the Protestant Reformation:

BTW, I also noticed on the same website:

According to unian.net, the head of the Russian church reminded that in 1992, the Ukrainian Church was granted the right of self-government comparable to the rights of autocephaly (independence) and “successfully carries out its ministry in the complicated conditions of the development of the Ukrainian state.”

If that’s true – if the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the UOC-MP) already has self-government “comparable to the rights of autocephaly” – then why not just make it official by granting them autocephaly?

The Orthodox Church in the Former Soviet Union has a lot of explaining to do, and forgiveness to seek, as it served as an instrument of Communist oppression. This is especially true in the case of the Ukraine, where it aggressively collaborated with the Communists to snuff out the Eastern Rite Ukrainian Catholic Church. Its marriage of convenience to the Communists *wrecked *its reputation, forever, IMO.

That has nothing to do with the topic of this thread.

However, I should point out to you that the ROC was nearly completely exterminated in the years before world war two. Of the 150 or more bishops in place before the Bolsheviks there were only four to be found when Stalin needed their help to rally the peasants against the NAZI’s. The persecution was really horrible.

Yes, it was a sinful time for some of the survivors. It’s not as if the Catholic church hasn’t also been through times and sins like that.

It was an atheist Soviet government decision separate the Eastern Catholics from the Pope, they had political motives for doing so, the Orthodox did not have a voice in this. More than likely Stain’s idea was to dissolve the Eastern Catholics as much as possible using the same methods he was using on the Orthodox. The persecutions abated in later years, so the Eastern Catholics did not see all of their parishes shut down and there was something left to work with when the nightmare was over.

To illustrate the imbalance, when the Soviet Union fell the majority of priests and parishes were in western Ukraine. The Orthodox church had been beaten down nearly everywhere else. The parish priests that left Orthodoxy to rehabilitate the UGCC had generally good training in the Orthodox seminaries, this is helpful now that the focus is on restoring the older traditions of the church.

For the Orthodox, it is now a different story. The Orthodox church is flourishing, but it is not the same as it was then, it came through the persecutions mostly as a bunch of nearly empty and shuttered buildings and is today full of new people.

Fascinating.

Then please also point out the important distinction: the Greek Catholic churches were liquidated, completely. The were made illegal and the assets were incorporated into the Orthodox Church with the latter’s cooperation.

It was an atheist Soviet government decision separate the Eastern Catholics from the Pope, they had political motives for doing so, the Orthodox did not have a voice in this.

They cooperated with it. Who opposed it?

More than likely Stalin’s idea was to dissolve the Eastern Catholics as much as possible using the same methods he was using on the Orthodox. The persecutions abated in later years, so the Eastern Catholics did not see all of their parishes shut down and there was something left to work with when the nightmare was over.

Really? Please identify the parishes that were not shut down.
Tell me, when was the Greek Catholic church made again legal in Soviet Ukraine?

The parish priests that left Orthodoxy to rehabilitate the UGCC had generally good training in the Orthodox seminaries, this is helpful now that the focus is on restoring the older traditions of the church.

Yes, how ungrateful we are for all that Orthodox gave us during those years. :rolleyes: Patriarch Alexy has made similar comments. They are appalling.

How about this for a more realistic assessment:
The ROC despises Greek Catholics churches, and has been happy to cooperate with czar and even commissar in their forcible incorporation into the Orthodox Church. And, strangely enough, it then expresses surprise when Greek Catholics don’t respond with gratitude to their overtures.

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