Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Two Major Non-Moscow Ukrainian Orthodox Churches Move toward Unity

June 11, 2015 The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Kyiv Patriarchate, two of the three largest Orthodox denominations in Ukraine (the other is the UOC subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate), have agreed to hold a meeting later this month to discuss unification.
That move, agreed upon at a meeting in Kyiv on Monday, puts the two on the road to unification and toward the formation of a single autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine, something that the Moscow Patriarchate will do everything in its power to prevent because the emergence of such a church would cost it most of its bishoprics and parishioners there.
Such an independent national church, subordinate only to the Universal Patriarchate in Constantinople which sent delegates to the Monday meeting and appears to be actively supporting the Ukrainian move, would not only attract many bishops and the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Chirch of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC-MP) but would also boost Ukrainian national identity separate from Russia.
But in addition, it would have serious consequences in Russia itself: Because more than half of the Moscow Patriarchate’s parishes are in Ukraine and because many of the newly created bishops there are Moscow Patriarch Kirill’s base, such a move represents a devastating blow to the Moscow church and its leader, reducing the ROC-MP to the third largest Orthodox church in the world and undercutting Kirill’s power and influence.
Consequently, it is entirely reasonable to assume that Kirill and Moscow will do everything they can to block this development, including the use of FSB-orchestrated provocations, blackmail, bribes, and other forms of official pressure both within Ukraine itself and in the Orthodox world more generally