Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate
St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kiev.jpg
Founder Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko)
Independence Established in 1992
Recognition Unrecognized by other canonical Orthodox churches
Primate Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko)
Headquarters Kiev, Ukraine
Territory Ukraine
Possessions Western Europe, United States
Language Ukrainian, Church Slavonic
Members See adherents
Website Ukrainian Orthodox Church
This article should include the material from Patriarch Filaret (Mykhailo Denysenko).

Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (Ukrainian: Українська Православна Церква Київського Патрiархату, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, UOC-KP) is one of the three major Orthodox churches in Ukraine, alongside the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.[1] The church is unrecognized by other canonical Eastern Orthodox churches,[2] including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

The UOC-KP's Mother Church is in the St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The head of the church is Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), who was enthroned in 1995. Patriarch Filaret was excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1997,[3] but the Synod and Sobor of the UOC-KP do not recognize this action.


The church originated in 1992 as a result of a schism between the Moscow Patriarchate and its former locum tenens, Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Filaret, when Filaret chose to convert his former see (of which he was head for more than two decades) into a Ukrainian autocephalous church, initially within the legal framework of the Russian Orthodox Church. The majority of the Ukrainian bishops refused to support him, and forced him to resign his position. Undeterred, Filaret, with support of the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, initiated a merger with the canonically-unrecognised Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. With the support of nationalist groups such as UNA-UNSO, the church fought for control over property. In response, almost all Ukrainian bishops called a sobor in Kharkiv, where they refused to follow Filaret, and ruled to defrock and anathemise him. However the union between the Western Ukrainian and diaspora clergy of the former UAOC and the now defrocked Russian Orthodox clergy who followed Filaret, became very fragile. After the death of Patriarch Mstyslav in the summer of 1993, the union reached a breaking point causing the UAOC to terminate the union. After a brief leadership of Patriarch Volodomyr (Romaniuk), Filaret assumed the Patriarchal throne in autumn 1995.

"Our Father" prayer in Ukrainian in Israel


Orthodoxy (and Christianity in general) in Ukraine date to the Christianization of Kievan Rus by Vladimir the Great as a Metropolitanate of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The sacking of Kiev itself in December 1240 during the Mongol Invasion led to the ultimate collapse of the Rus' state. For many of its residents, the brutality of Mongol attacks sealed the fate of many choosing to find safe haven in the North East. In 1299, the Kievan Metropolitan Chair was moved to Vladimir by Metropolitan Maximus, keeping the title of Kiev. As Vladimir-Suzdal, and later the Grand Duchy of Moscow continued to grow unhindered, the Orthodox religious link between them and Kiev remained strong. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 allowed the once daughter church of North East to become autocephalous with Kiev remaining part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. From that moment on, the Churches of Ukraine and Russia went their own separate ways. The latter became central in the growing Russian Tsardom, attaining patriarchal status in 1589, whilst the former became subject to repression and Polonization efforts, particularly after the Union of Brest in 1596. Eventually the persecution of Orthodox Ukrainians led to a massive rebellion under Bohdan Khmelnytsky and united the Ukrainian Hetmanate with the Russian Tsardom, and in 1686, the Kievan Metropolia came under the Moscow Patriarchate. Ukrainian clergy, for their Greek training, held key roles in the Russian Orthodox Church until the end of the 18th century. Examples include Epifany Slavinetsky, one of the architects of the Patriarch Nikon's church reforms in the 17th century. Epifany Slavinetsky, locum tenens after Patriarch Adrian's death in 1700 and Metropolitan of Moscow, and his successor Feofan Prokopovich, a reformer of Russian Orthodox Church in early 18th century.

Orthodoxy in Ukraine greatly expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly as the boundaries of Russian Empire incorporated the Crimean Khanate, Bessarabia and Right-Bank Ukraine. Only the Western province of Galicia remained outside the Russian Orthodox Church (though it was claimed as canonical territory, as it was in the official Kievan Metropolitan title of Kiev and Galich). During the 20th century, Orthodoxy was brutally persecuted by the Soviet authorities in Soviet Ukraine, and, to lesser extent, by the authorities of the Second Polish Republic in Volhynia.

What historians now see as the reason for the following events was the decision of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Filaret to achieve total autocephaly (independence) of his metropolitan see with or without the approval of the mother church as required by canon law. These events followed Filaret's own unsuccessful attempt to gain a seat in the Moscow Patriarch for himself (1990) and Ukrainian independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in August, 1991. In November 1991, Metropolitan Filaret requested that the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephalous status. The skeptical hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church called for a full Synodical council (Sobor) where this issue would have been discussed at length. Filaret, using support from old friendship ties with the then newly elected President of Ukraine (Leonid Kravchuk), convinced him that a new independent government should have its own independent church. Although the UAOC lacked any significant following outside Galicia, Filaret was able to organise a covert communion with the UAOC in case the Moscow Patriarchate refused.

At the synod in March–April 1992, however, most of the clergy of the UOC who initially supported Filaret, openly criticised this move, and put most of the other bishops against him. Questions regarding his unpopular disregard of monastic vows (having a common-law wife) as well as the allegations of improper ecclesiastical financial dealings made the council vote for Filaret's retirement from his position which he confirmed by a sworn oath.

Upon returning to Kyiv, Filaret carried out his reserve option claiming that the retirement swore was given under pressure and that he is not resigning. The Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk gave Filaret his support as did the nationalist Paramilitaries, in retaining his rank. In a crisis moment the Hierarchical Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church agreed to another synod which met in May 1992. The council was conducted in the eastern city of Kharkiv where the majority of the bishops voted to suspend Filaret from his clerical functioning. Simultaneously they elected a new leader Metropolitan Volodymyr (Viktor Sabodan), a native of the Khmelnytskyi Oblast and a former Patriarchal Exarch to Western Europe.

With only three bishops remaining at his support Filaret initiated the unification with the UAOC, and in June 1992 created a new Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) with 94-year-old Patriarch Mstyslav as the leader. While chosen as his assistant, Filaret was de facto ruling the Church. A few of the Autocephalous bishops and clergy who opposed this situation refused to join the new Church following the death of Mstyslav a year later. The church was once again ripped apart by a schism and most of the UAOC parishes were regained when the churches re-separated in July 1993.

Canonical status[edit]

Since his election as a Patriarch in 1995, Filaret remains very active in both church and state politics. His goal is to gather around his Church all groups with a national[citation needed] orientation and all church organizations which did not have canonical recognition.[4] He expressed repentance for his past support of prosecution of Ukrainian national churches, the Autocephalous and the Greek Catholic.[citation needed] He is leading the drive for his church to become a single Ukrainian national church. His attempts to gain canonical recognition for his church remain unsuccessful to this day and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church canonically linked to the Moscow Patriarchate remains the only body whose canonical standing is universally recognized by the Eastern Orthodox communion.

Patriarchs of Kiev and All Rus'-Ukraine[edit]

Important institutions[edit]

  • Holy Synod of UOC-KP
    • The Synod consists of the Patriarch and its six permanent members, the representatives of Galicia, Volyn, Kiev, Southern Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, and the Russian bordering region of Bilhorod (locally as Belgorod). The Synod also has three temporary members that are represented by Eparchial Archbishops. The permanent members are elected by the Archbishop Assembly to which the Synod is responsible. The three temporary members are called upon the Patriarch and the Synod.
  • Archbishop Assembly (Sobor)
    • The assembly takes place at least once in two years and is initiated by the Patriarch and the Holy Synod. The members of assembly consists of all archbishops as well as the members of the Supreme Church Council. An extraordinary session of the assembly can be called upon by either the Patriarch or the 1/3 of all archbishops of UOC-KP. To selected sessions of the assembly may be invited some guests without any voting rights, however. All the declarations obtain their power upon the signatures of the head of assembly, its presidium, and secretary. The official website contains brief overviews of all the twelve assemblies that took place.
  • The Local Assembly (Pomisny Sobor)
    • The highest institution of the Church administration. All of the Church legislative, executive, and legal powers belong to that assembly. The assembly is much bigger than its Archbishop's counterpart and involves various religious representatives as well as some secular.


In 2000, 21.8%, out of 41.2% who clearly defined their church allegiance, adhered to the UOC-KP.[5] According to a poll conducted by the Razumkov Centre in 2006, 14.9% of the Ukrainian population declared that they belonged to the UOC-KP.[6]

In 2013, 18.3% of Ukrainians adhered to UOC-KP, growing to 22.4% in April 2014.[7] The Kyiv Post reported that the Moscow Patriarchate's decisions during the 2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine had led some Ukrainians to join the UOC-KP.[7] In a May-June 2016 survey (excluding Crimea and militant-controlled parts of Donbas), 33% of Ukrainians belonged to the UOC-KP.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ukraine". The CIA World Factbook.  According to the CIA World Factbook, 19% of the Ukrainian population associated themselves with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (cf. Orthodox (no particular jurisdiction) 16%, Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow Patriarchate 9%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 6%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 1.7%).
  2. ^ "Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate" Українська Православна Церква Київського Патріархату. Religious Information Service of Ukraine (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 3 November 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine Filaret". Religious Information Service of Ukraine. Archived from the original on 16 September 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  5. ^ Shangina, Lyudmila (23 September 2000). "НАРОД ЗОЛОТОЇ СЕРЕДИНИ-2: ЯК МИ ВІРИМО" [People of the Golden Center-2: How We Believe]. Dzerkalo Tyzhnya (in Ukrainian). Razumkov Centre. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  6. ^ "Віруючим якої церкви, конфесії Ви себе вважаєте?" [What religious group do you belong to?] (in Ukrainian). Razumkov Centre. 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Trach, Nataliya (23 January 2015). "Ukrainians shun Moscow Patriarchate as Russia's war intensifies in Donbas". Kyiv Post. 
  8. ^ "Public Opinion Survey: Residents of Ukraine May 28–June 14, 2016" (PDF). International Republican Institute. 8 July 2016. p. 62. 

External links[edit]