St Volodymyr's Cathedral ownership controversy

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The ownership of St Volodymyr's Cathedral is an issue of controversy between two major Orthodox churches in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy (see History of Christianity in Ukraine).

Since the end of World War II and up until 1990 the cathedral was the mother church of the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). In 1990, when the Kiev Metropolitan's see of ROC was restyled as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, formally fully autonomous but remaining under the Patriarch of Moscow, the St. Volodymyr's remained the Mother Cathedral of the newly established Ukrainian Church.

In 1992, following the ouster of the then Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Filaret (Mykhailo Denysenko), the new Ukrainian church was proclaimed under Filaret's initiative as a Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy (UOC-KP). The newly established church, claiming the lineage to the historic Ukrainian church of Metropolitan Peter Mogila that existed until the end-17th century, was immediately recognised by the then president Leonid Kravchuk's government (despite strong protest from some members) and has obtained (or in Filaret's view "retained") control over the cathedral. The new church was immediately promised support by law enforcement, and also from nationalist paramilitaries such as the "Ukrainian National Self-Defence" (UNA - UNSO).[1]

Upon the arrival of a new canonical leader of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Viktor Sabodan), elected at the Kharkiv sinod, where Filaret was oustered from his position as head of that church, Volodymyr and several thousand believers who gathered to meet him, encountered a heavily guarded cathedral surrounded by riot police and UNA - UNSO paramilitary members which barricaded themselves in the church.[1][2][3] Bloodshed in front of the cathedral was avoided when Metropolitan Volodymyr turned the crowd away from the cathedral.

St. Volodymyr's remains the mother cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy, which despite being one of the major Orthodox denominations in Ukraine, is viewed uncanonical by the Eastern Orthodox Communion.


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