Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis
eBook - ePub

Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis

Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer, Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer

  1. English
  2. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  3. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis

Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer, Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

This volume explores the churches of Ukraine and their involvement in the recent movement for social justice and dignity within the country. In November of 2013, citizens of Ukraine gathered on Kyiv's central square (Maidan) to protest against a government that had reneged on its promise to sign a trade agreement with Europe. The Euromaidan protest included members of various Christian churches in Ukraine, who stood together and demanded government accountability and closer ties with Europe. In response, state forces massacred over one hundred unarmed civilians. The atrocity precipitated a rapid sequence of events: the president fled the country, a provisional government was put in place, and Russia annexed Crimea and intervened militarily in eastern Ukraine. An examination of Ukrainian churches' involvement in this protest and the fall-out that it inspired opens up other questions and discussions about the churches' identity and role in the country's culture and its social and political history. Volume contributors examine Ukrainian churches' historical development and singularity; their quest for autonomy; their active involvement in identity formation; their interpretations of the war and its causes; and the paths they have charted toward peace and unity.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis by Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer, Andrii Krawchuk, Thomas Bremer in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Social Sciences & Sociology of Religion. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


Part I
Historical Background
© The Author(s) 2016
Andrii Krawchuk and Thomas Bremer (eds.)Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis10.1007/978-3-319-34144-6_1
Begin Abstract

1. Religion in Ukraine: Historical Background and the Present Situation

Thomas Bremer1
Faculty of Catholic Theology, Münster University, Münster, Germany
Thomas Bremer
End Abstract
Of all the successor states of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine is probably the country with the most complicated and difficult religious situation. Although it is predominantly Orthodox, because of major splits there are several competing Orthodox Churches in the country. Ukraine is also home to a large group of Catholics, most of whom are Greek Catholics, following the Eastern rite yet also acknowledging the authority of the Roman pope. Ukraine is predominantly Christian, but there is a traditional presence of Muslims in Crimea; there is also a Jewish community, which before World War II was very large and important. This community is now again experiencing growth. Protestants in the region consisted largely of German settlers and their descendants, but today there are numerous Protestant congregations, for the most part Baptist or Pentecostal. These congregations were established in recent years and are mostly composed of ethnic Ukrainians. For some 70 years, a major part of the country was subject to militant atheism (the western regions for 40 years). Nevertheless, religiosity in Ukraine is one of the highest of all the former Soviet countries.1
Such data reveal the diversity of Ukraine’s religious situation. In the crisis which the region has experienced since 2013, its religious communities have played important, albeit differing, roles. Their significance is linked to the fact that the history and contemporary status of all Ukraine’s religious communities are narrowly connected with an “identity”—all these religious communities somehow relate to a group identity, which may be a national identity, or a political identity, or both. In order to better understand the importance of religion in Ukraine and the perspectives of its different religious communities, it is worthwhile to consider their historical development.

Historical Background2

Ukraine is not, as one frequently reads, split neatly into a western and eastern part. Rather, the country consists of several regions, which have their own particular historical development and traditions, but which nevertheless form a unified state, even though present-day independent Ukraine was only established in 1991, when the Soviet Union finally disintegrated.
Historically, the greatest external influences on religion in Ukraine came from Russia, Poland, and Austria. For centuries, large parts of Ukraine belonged to Russia. Ukrainians were regarded by many Russians as “Little Russians,” which means that they were not seen as a distinct nation, but rather as a similar national entity at the periphery of the Russian Empire. Anyone who wanted to make a career in czarist Russia had to be fluent in Russian, the lingua franca of the empire and any non-Russian speaking peasants in the largely agricultural Ukraine were regarded as backward. Ukrainian writers such as Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Bulgakov wrote in Russian and were regarded as representatives of Russian culture.
During the period of czarist Russian domination, the legal context for religious communities in Ukraine was the same as in Russia proper. Orthodoxy was the predominant religion, and the Orthodox Church in the region was part of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The metropolitan was a senior bishop of the ROC, and was under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarch (or the Most Holy Synod in St. Petersburg, after the patriarchate was abandoned in the early eighteenth century). Until the Manifesto of Tolerance, which was issued by the Czar in 1905, no ethnic Russian (or Ukrainian) was allowed to leave the Orthodox Church. Only ethnic Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, and others could belong to another Christian church, whether Catholic or Protestant.
After World War I, the situation changed dramatically. The October Revolution terminated any idea of a predominant church. Religion was separated from the state, which meant that not only was there no longer a state church, but that all churches were subject to harsh persecutions that began immediately. In the first few years following the October Revolution, the new rulers accepted and even supported the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, since they claimed to fight not only for the liberation of the working class, but also for the liberation of the subjugated nations.3 A national Ukrainian Church, which would compete with the Russian Church was, therefore, seen as an ally in fighting the dominance of the ROC. However, after a short time this state support ceased, and the Ukrainian Church became subject to persecution as did any form of religion in the Soviet Union; in 1936, the Ukrainian Church ceased to exist. It should also be said that, during its short period of existence, the Ukrainian Church failed to get a bishop on its side, which meant that there were no valid ordinations. In 1921, priests who supported this church elected a metropolitan from among themselves, and ordained him by a collective laying on of hands, arguing that this was the practice of the apostles themselves. However, Orthodox Church law and theology require ordination by a bishop, and this meant that the Ukrainian Church, from its very beginning, lacked validity as far as its hierarchy was concerned.
It is important to note that, during the German occupation of parts of Ukraine during World War II, the German authorities supported Orthodoxy and tried to organize the establishment of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. To this end, and with a view to gaining the confidence of the population, in 1941 the German authorities used Russian bishops in exile to install a hierarchy and to ordain bishops. After the defeat of the German forces, some of these bishops settled in the West and emigrated to North America. There they installed a Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchy, which was in communion with the patriarchate of Constantinople (which claims jurisdiction over Orthodox Churches in non-Orthodox countries). This church served and still serves Ukrainian believers in North America and other Western countries, but due to the political circumstances following World War II, it could not be active in the Soviet Union. However, this church made the idea of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church independent from Moscow a reality, and it could boast a canonically valid hierarchy.
The Austrian influence in Ukraine largely concerns the Greek Catholic Church, which is based in the western part of the country. After the division of Poland in the late eighteenth century, the Habsburg Empire gained Galicia and Transcarpathia, where Greek Catholics predominated. As in other Austrian areas (Romania, Croatia), the government encouraged the conversion of the Orthodox to Eastern Catholicism, since Catholics were not subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign church, but to one of the Catholic bishops in the country. When a strong Ukrainian national consciousness arose among Greek Catholic intellectuals, it was supported by the Greek Catholic Church.4 This gave a strong impetus to the development of the Ukrainian language, the study of history, and the development of a uniquely Ukrainian literature. The Ukrainians of Galicia came to feel that they were the “true” Ukrainians and they tried to propagate this national sense of belonging in ethnic Ukrainian territories under Russian dominance—an effort which conflicted with the Russian understanding of “Little Russians.” However, this attempt was in accordance with Austrian interests—that is, to prevent either Polish or Russian national sentiments from prevailing. Today, there is no longer any Austrian national consciousness in Ukraine but, historically, the presence of Austrians was regarded as significant.
The Polish influence, like the Russian influence, also dates back many centuries. Historically, Poland had been a mighty empire (partly in personal union with Lithuania) and, for a long period, it ruled over large areas of Central Eastern Europe—as such, it was a rival of Russia. It was under Polish dominance that the Union of Brest took place in 1596, which despite its difficult beginnings eventually assumed a pivotal place in the religious history of Ukraine. The church which emerged from the union did not survive in the regions where it was founded, but only in the areas which later came under Austrian rule. The Polish influence on religion in Ukraine resulted largely from the presence of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). After the re-establishment of the Polish state in 1918, Poland gained areas (including Galicia) which, in the Partitions of Poland (in the late eighteenth century), had been turned over to either Russia or Austria. The Polish state tried to “polonize” those recovered areas, and the RCC served as a tool in this aim. Indeed, to be Roman Catholic meant to be Polish; the Catholic Church (of the Western or “Latin” rite) therefore enjoyed certain privileges. This led to serious conflict between Eastern and Western Catholics, and also with Orthodox Christians, and Jews (who in some places constituted the majority of the population). This is why, even today, many people consider the RCC in Ukraine a “Polish” church, regardless of its attempts to be accepted as a Ukrainian Church. In 1944, these interwar Polish territories became part of Soviet Ukraine.
In addition to Russia, Austria, and Poland, there were other external influences on religion in Ukraine. Crimea, occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014 on the pretext of its allegedly long Russian history, was for many centuries predominantly Turkish. There remains a strong Muslim presence on the peninsula to this day, and it would have been even greater if the Tartars had not been deported during World War II. German settlers also lived in Ukraine for a long time; they too were deported at the beginning of World War II to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and other areas of the Soviet Union. While still in Ukraine, these Germans had been members of the Lutheran and Baptist communities.
After World War II, western Ukraine came under Soviet rule. In 1954, Crimea was separated from the Russian Soviet Republic, to which it had belonged, and given to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. This was for very concrete reasons: Crimea has no land connection with Russia, and it receives its energy supply and drinking water from the Ukrainian mainland. It therefore made sense to administer the peninsula from Ukraine. Since both Soviet republics belonged to the same country, the Soviet Union, this was of little significance at the time. No one expected that this would be at the center of an international conflict some 60 years later.
The Soviet regime in Ukraine implemented the same religious policy as in the other republics of the Soviet Union. For Orthodoxy, the ROC was the only legal church. The Kyiv metropolitan was an “exarch” of the church and an ex officio member of the Synod in Moscow. The RCC continued to exist in some places, but lacked any hierarchy. In Ukraine, there were a handful of individual RCC priests who celebrated Mass, but there was no proper church structure. In the Soviet Union, only Latvia and Lithuania had a proper RCC hierarchy. In 1946, the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed and violently merged with the ROC.5 All church buildings and parishes were turned over to the ROC. Any priest who resisted faced dire consequences. All thirteen bishops were arrested and exiled—only one survived and was allowed to leave the country for Rome in the 1960s. The Church continued to exist illegally in the underground. The Soviet authorities knew about this, but did not interfere.
Such was the situation in Soviet Ukraine until the late 1980s, when Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev launched perestroika, a process that would eventually reverse the fortunes of the religious communities in Ukraine.

The Greek Catholic Church in the Transition Period

Our discussion of the transition period in Ukraine and its consequences for the various churches begins with a brief description of the influence of perestroika on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). The dissolution of the Soviet Union changed the fortunes of this church completely. Previously a forbidden underground community, the UGCC suddenly became an important ecclesial and political actor, and by far the predominant church in western Ukr...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis

APA 6 Citation

[author missing]. (2017). Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis ([edition unavailable]). Springer International Publishing. Retrieved from (Original work published 2017)

Chicago Citation

[author missing]. (2017) 2017. Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis. [Edition unavailable]. Springer International Publishing.

Harvard Citation

[author missing] (2017) Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis. [edition unavailable]. Springer International Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

[author missing]. Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis. [edition unavailable]. Springer International Publishing, 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.