Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church
2005-08-15 Pechersk Lavra seen from river Dnepr Kiev 311.JPG
The 11th century Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev
Founded 1685 (autonomy); 1770 (autonomy stripped); 1921 (exarchate); 1990 (self-rule)
Founder Gedeon (united with the Russian Orthodox Church)
Recognition 1990
Supreme Governor Patriarch Kirill
Primate Metropolitan Onuphrius
Polity Russian Orthodox Church
Headquarters Refectory Church (Kiev Cave Monastery)
Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ[1] (being built since 2007)
Territory Ukraine
Language Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, Romanian
Members 17.4% of religious population (by Razumkov Center, January 2015)[2]
20.85 of religious population (by Ukrainian Sociology Service and Kucheriv democratic initiatives fund, December 2014 – January 2015)[3]
Bishops 85 (53 governing)
Priests 10,963
Parishes 11,393
Monastics 1,320
Monasteries 219
Nuns 2,312
Website Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Refectory Church, a mother cathedral of the church (since 1992)
St Volodymyr's Cathedral, former mother cathedral of the church (1944-1992)
Annunciation Cathedral in Kharkiv, a former mother cathedral of the church (1929-1934)
The non-cathedral temple of the Russian Orthodox Church in Lviv - St. George Church

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) (Ukrainian: Українська Православна Церква; Russian: Украинская Православная Церковь) is a self-governing church of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The current Statute of the ROC defines it as a "self-governing church with the rights of wide autonomy".[4] Officially such status has no recognition outside of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 notwithstanding, the UOC eparchies in Crimea continue under the administration of the UOC.[5] While being a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, the current status of the UOC means its virtually full administrative independence from the ROC Holy Synod, whereas the UOC Primate is the seniormost[6] permanent member thereof and thus has a say in the decision-making in respect of the rest of the ROC, including its business in the Russian Federation.


Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople[edit]

Moscow, Lithuania, Halych metropolia[edit]

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church considers itself the sole descendant in modern Ukraine of the Ruthenian (Kyivan) metropolis within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople established in Kiev in the 10th century. Due to invasion of the Mongols in the 13th century the metropolitan seat was moved to Vladimir and later to Moscow, while in the Duchy of Halych and Volhynia was created a separate Metropolis of Halych with own Metropolitan. In the 14th century the Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas who established his control over the former territories of Kievan Rus attempted to move the metropolitan seat back to Kiev.


In 1596 the Metropolitan of Kiev, Halych and all Russia Michael Rohoza accepted the Union of Brest transforming dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church under the Holy See's jurisdiction. In 1620 Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople reestablished its dioceses in Ukraine under the Metropolitan of Kiev, Galicia and all Russia as the exarch of Ukraine Job Boretsky.

Merger into the Russian Orthodox Church[edit]

In 1685 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church came under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church when Gedeon Svyatopolk-Chetvertynsky was elected the Metropolitan of Kyiv, Galicia and all Russia with the help of the Hetman of Zaporizhian Host Ivan Samoylovych. At that time all six eparchies (dioceses) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine were transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church. The original eparchies included Kiev, Chernihiv, Mstislav-Mogilev (Belorusian) on the left bank of Dnieper and Lviv, Lutsk, Peremyshl on the right bank of Dnieper. Since his election Gedeon lost practically all his eparchies. Due to the conflilct with Lazar Baranovich, Metropolitan of Kiev ceded the Chernihiv eparchy under direct jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1686, while the Belorusia eparchy was already de facto administered from Moscow by that time. On 27 January 1688 the Russian Orthodox Church changed the title of Gedeon to Metropolitan of Kiev, Halych and Little Russia. Already the Gedeon's successor Metropolitan Varlaam during 1692 to 1702 lost the rest of his eparchies in Lviv, Peremyshl and Lutsk that were transferred to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Due to the reduction in number of eparchies, the eparchy of Pereyaslav was revived, commemorating the council of Pereyaslav. In 1728-72 the Belorusian eparchy became the only Eastern Orthodox eparchy in Poland and was directly governed by the Patriarch of Moscow.

Before the Battle of Poltava when Ivan Mazepa sided with Carl XII, the new Metropolitan Ioasaf along with bishops of Chernihiv and Pereyaslav was summoned by Peter the Great to Hlukhiv where they were ordered to declare an anathema onto Mazepa. After the battle of Poltava, in 1709 Metropolitan Ioasaf was exiled to Tver and in 1710 a church censorship was introduced to the Kiev metropolia. In 1718 Metropolitan Ioasaf was arrested and exiled to Saint Petersburg for interrogation where he died. In 1720 an edict is issued, according to which all Ukrainian publishers are required to change to the Russian language. During that time in 1718 to 1722 the Metropolitan seat in Kiev was vacant and ruled by the Kiev Spiritual Consistory (under the authority of the Most Holy Synod), since 1722 it was occupied by Archbishop Varlaam, thus being downgraded to a regular eparchy. Also since 1721 the Russian Orthodox Church itself was governed by the Most Holy Synod rather than Patriarch.

Synod period[edit]

In 1730 the new Archbishop Varlaam with all members of the Kiev Spiritual Consistory were put on trial by the Privy Chancellery. After being convicted, Varlaam as a simple monk was exiled to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in Vologda region where he served a sentence of imprisonment of 10 years. After the death of the Russian Empress Anna in 1740, Varlaam was allowed to return and recovered all his Archiereus titles. He however refused to except back those titles and, after asked to be left in peace, moved to the Tikhvin Assumption Monastery. In 1750 Varlaam accepted the Great Schema under the name of Vasili and soon died in 1751.

The newly appointed archbishop of Kiev Raphael Zaborovsky (in 1730) after some 25 years had revived the metropolitan rank for the Kiev eparchy in 1743 as the Metropolitan of Kiev, Halych and Little Russia.

On 2 April 1767 the Empress of Russia Catherine the Great issued an edict stripping the title of the Metropolitan of Kiev of the words "and all Little Russia".[7]

In 1803 for the first onto the metropolitan seat in Kiev was placed Metropolitan Serapion, a bishop from Russia (from the Vladimir region). Since 1803 and until 1930 the heads of Kiev eparchy were exclusively from Russia.

Fall of monarchy in Russia and Exarchate[edit]

Participants of the 1917 Local Council (Metropolitan Antony is to the right of Patriarch Tikhon)

During the advance of the Soviet troops on Kiev (see Ukrainian–Soviet War), in January 1918 was killed the Metropolitan of Kiev Vladimir Bogoyavlensky by unknown people. Metropolitan Bogoyavlensky chaired the All-Ukrainian Church Council that took a break between its sessions on 18 January 1918 and was to be resumed in May 1918. On 23–24 January 1918 the Red Guards of Reinholds Bērziņš occupied the city of Kiev. In the evening of 25 January 1918 Metropolitan Vladimir was found dead between walls of the Old Pechersk Fortress beyond the Gates of All Saints.

In May 1918 to the Kiev eparchy was appointed Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych Antony, a former candidate to become the Patriarch of Moscow at the Russian Local Council of 1917 and losing it to the Patriarch Tikhon. In July 1918 Metropolitan Antony became the head of the All-Ukrainian Church Council. Eventually he sided with the Russian White movement supporting the Denikin's forces of South Russia, while keeping the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych. After the defeat of the Whites and the exile of Antony, in 1919-21 the metropolitan seat was temporarily held by the bishop of Cherkasy Nazariy (also the native of Kazan). After the arrest of Nazariy by the Soviet authorities in 1921, the seat was provisionally held by the bishop of Grodno and newly elected Exarch of Ukraine Mikhail, a member of the Russian Black Hundreds nationalistic movement. After his arrest in 1923, the Kiev eparchy was provisionally headed by various bishops of neighboring eparchies until 1927. After his return in 1927 Mikhail became the Metropolitan of Kiev and Exarch of Ukraine until his death in 1929.

In 1945, after the integration of Zakarpattia Oblast into USSR, eastern parts of the Eparchy of Mukačevo and Prešov were transferred from the supreme jurisdiction of Serbian Orthodox Church to the jurisdiction of the Exarchate of Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and new Eparchy of Mukačevo and Užgorod was formed.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union and self rule[edit]

On 28 October 1990,[8] it was granted a status of a self–governing church under the jurisdiction of the ROC (but not the full autonomy as is understood in the ROC legal terminology).

Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan), who succeeded Filaret (Denysenko), was enthroned in 1992 as the Primate of the UOC under the title Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, with the official residency in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, which also houses all of the Church's administration.

The church is currently the only Ukrainian church to have full canonical standing in Eastern Orthodoxy, and operates in full communion with the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. The UOC (MP) claims to be the largest religious body in Ukraine with the greatest number of parishes churches and communities counting up to half of the total in Ukraine and totaling over 10,000. The UOC also claims to have up to 75 percent of the Ukrainian population.[9] Independent surveys show significant variance. According to Stratfor, in 2008, more than 50 percent of Ukrainian population belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarch.[10] Razumkov Centre survey results, however, tend to show greater adherence to the rival Kiev Patriarchate.[11] Many Orthodox Ukrainians do not clearly identify with a particular denomination and, sometimes, are even unaware of the affiliation of the church they attend as well as of the controversy itself, which indicates the difficulty of using survey numbers as an indicator of a relative strength of the church. Also, the geographical factor plays a major role in the number of adherents, as the Ukrainian population tends to be more churchgoing in the western part of the country rather than in the UOC (MP)'s heartland in southern and eastern Ukraine. Many in Ukraine see the UOC-MP as merely a tool of the Putin Government.

The number of parishes statistics seems to be more reliable and consistent even though it may not necessarily directly translate into the numbers of adherents. By number of parishes and quantity of church buildings, the UOC (MP)'s strong base is central and northernwestern Ukraine. However, percentage wise (with respect to rival Orthodox Churches) its share of parishes there varies from 60 to 70 percent. At the same time, by percentage alone (with respect to rival Orthodox Churches) the urban russophone southern and eastern Ukrainian provinces peak with up to 90 percent of church buildings. The same can be said about Transcarpathia, although there the UOC's main rival is the Greek Catholic Church and thus in all its share is only 40 percent. The capital Kiev is where the greatest Orthodox rivalry takes place, there the UOC (MP) has only half of the Orthodox communities. The only place where the UOC (MP) is a true minority, in both quantity, percentage and support are the former Galician provinces of Western Ukraine. There the total share of parishes does not exceed more than five percent. The UOC (MP) does not have any parishes abroad, as its followers identify themselves under the same umbrella as those of the Russian Orthodox Church.

As of 2006 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had the allegiance of 10,875 registered religious communities in Ukraine (approximately 68 percent of all Orthodox Christian communities in the country), located mostly in central, eastern and southern regions and claims to be the largest religious body in terms of church property in Ukraine.

Since 2014 the church has come under attack for perceived anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian actions by its clergymen.[12] On 14 September 2015 it urged the pro-Russian separatists of the War in Donbass to lay down their arms and take advantage of the amnesty promised to them in the Minsk II agreement.[13] Ukraine passed laws which the Moscow Patriarchate interpreted as discriminatory in 2017.[14]


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) insists on its name being just the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,[15] stating that it is the sole canonic body of Orthodox Christians in the country,[15] a Ukrainian "local church" (Ukrainian: Помісна Церква), a claim fiercely contested by her non-canonic rivals. It is also the name that it is registered under in the State Committee of Ukraine in Religious Affairs.[16]

In mass media and in academic literature it is often referred to, as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) or UOC (MP)[17][18][19] in order to distinguish between the two rival churches contesting the name of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Administrative division[edit]

Eparchies of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in 2011

In October 2014 the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine was subdivided into 53 eparchies (dioceses) led by bishops. Also there were 25 vicars (suffragan bishops).

In 2008 the Church had 42 eparchies, with 58 bishops (eparchial - 42; vicar - 12; retired - 4; with them being classified as: metropolitans - 10; archbishops - 21; or bishops - 26). There were also 8,516 priests, and 443 deacons.[20]

List of Primates[edit]

Gedeon Mitropolit.jpg
Metropolitan Gedeon
Варлаам Ясинский.jpg
Metropolitan Varlaam
Иоасаф Кроковский.jpg
Metropolitan Joasaph
Варлаам (Вонатович).jpg
Archbishop Varlaam
Metropolitan Raphael
Metropolitan Timothy
Арсений (Могилянский).jpg
Metropolitan Arseniy
Портрет митрополита Антония (Храповицкого).jpg
Metropolitan Antony
Михаил (Ермаков).jpg
Metropolitan Michael
Митрополит Константин (Дьяков).jpg
Metropolitan Constantine
Metropolitan Nicholas
Metropolitan Alexis
Metropolitan John
Joasaph (Lelyukhin).jpg
Metropolitan Ioasaph
1995-fil intr.JPG
Metropolitan Philaret
Onuphrius Berezovsky.jpg
Metropolitan Onuphrius

Metropolitan of Kiev, Halych and all Little Russia[edit]

  • Metropolitan Gedeon 1685–1690, the first Metropolitan of Kiev of the Russian Orthodox Church, until 1688 was titled as the Metropolitan of Kiev, Galicia and all Ruthenia
  • Metropolitan Varlaam 1690–1707
  • Metropolitan Ioasaph 1707–1718
  • none 1718–1722
  • Archbishop Varlaam 1722–1730
  • Metropolitan Raphael 1731–1747, until 1743 as Archbishop
  • Metropolitan Timothy 1748–1757
  • Metropolitan Arseniy 1757–1770, in 1767 Metropolitan Arseniy became Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych

Note: in 1770 the office's jurisdiction was reduced to a diocese's administration as Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia. The autonomy was liquidated and the church was merged to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Exarch of Ukraine[edit]

Due to emigration of Metropolitan Antony in 1919, until World War II Kiev eparchy was often administered by provisional bishops. Also because of political situation in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church introduced a new title in its history as the Exarch of Ukraine that until 1941 was not necessary associated with the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych.

  • Metropolitan Mikhail (Yermakov) 1921–1929 (Bishop of Grodno and Brest, 1905–1921; Archbishop of Tobolsk, 1925; and Metropolitan of Kiev, 1927–1929)
  • Metropolitan Konstantin (Dyakov) 1929–1937 (Metropolitan of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka, 1927–1934 and Metropolitan of Kiev 1934–1937)
  • none 1937–1941, exarch was not appointed

Metropolitan of Volyn and Lutsk, Exarch of West Ukraine and Belarus[edit]

Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych, Exarch of Ukraine[edit]

Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cathedral of Resurrection of Christ and Spiritual-Enlightning Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Most of population of Ukraine considers itself predominantly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate).
  4. ^ п. 18 Гл. XI Устава РПЦ: «Украинская Православная Церковь является самоуправляемой с правами широкой автономии.»
  5. ^ Статус епархий в Крыму остался неизменным, заявили в УПЦ Московского патриархата NEWSru, 10 March 2015.
  6. ^ ЖУРНАЛЫ заседания Священного Синода от 19 марта 2014 года // ЖУРНАЛ № 1: «2. Включить в состав Священного Синода на правах постоянного члена митрополита Черновицкого и Буковинского Онуфрия, <…> с определением по протокольному старшинству места, занимаемого Блаженнейшим митрополитом Киевским и всея Украины — первым среди архиереев Русской Православной Церкви.»
  7. ^ Arseniy at the Orthodox Encyclopedia
  8. ^ К 20-летию Благословенной Грамоты Святейшего Патриарха Московского и всея Руси Алексия II о даровании Украинской Православной Церкви самостоятельности в управлении: ″Определение фактически вступило в силу уже 28 октября 1990 года (когда Святейший Патриарх Алексий вручил занимавшему тогда Киевскую кафедру митрополиту Филарету соответствующую Грамоту)″
  9. ^ Pravoslvieye v Ukraine Retrieved on 10 February 2007
  10. ^ Countries in Crisis: Ukraine Part 3
  11. ^ "What religious group do you belong to?". Sociology poll by Razumkov Centre about the religious situation in Ukraine (2006)
  12. ^ Ukrainians shun Moscow Patriarchate as Russia’s war intensifies in Donbas, Kyiv Post (23 Januari 2015)
    The War and the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, The Jamestown Foundation (18 February 2014)
  13. ^ (in Ukrainian) UOC MP called on militants to lay down arms, Ukrayinska Pravda (14 September 2015)
  14. ^ "Ukrainian legislation about religion will finalize divorce between Kyiv and Moscow". 19 May 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
    "Russian church leader asks UN, Pope to intervene with Kiev over 'discriminatory' religious laws". 17 May 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  15. ^ a b The interview given by Metropolitan Volodymyr (Viktor Sabodan) to Associated Press
  16. ^ "On the state and tendencies of expansion of the religious situation in government-church relations in Ukraine". State Committee of Ukraine in Religious Affairs (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2004-12-04. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  17. ^ "Politics and Society in Ukraine". Paul J. D'Anieri, Robert S. Kravchuk, Taras Kuzio. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  18. ^ "Post-Soviet Political Order". Barnett R. Rubin, Jack L. Snyder. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  19. ^ "The Orthodox Church in the History of Russia". Dimitry Pospielovsky. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  20. ^ "Statistical data". Ukrainian Orthodox Church (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  21. ^ a b Metropolitan Onufriy of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna elected head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Interfax-Ukraine (13 August 2014)

External links[edit]