I didn`t want to right first article about Ukrainian religion in light of lately damning news of destroying and defiling churches, bullying and killing clergymen in my native Ukraine. But what can I do if it is a rude reality that nobody can`t avoid? I must tell the truth, my own subjective but independent opinion about what`s happening and how I see this religious conflict in Ukraine.
History of religion in Ukraine
It`s very hard to tell about all aspects of history of religion in Ukraine, as it is extremely ancient, but we will try to describe in short. So, the first times of spreading of Christianity relates to the first century AD.Crimea which belonged to Ancient Roman Empire was the first place of faith origin on territory of modern Ukraine. Legenadry missionaries like Andrew the Apostle were here that time and Crimea was used like a place to exile religious dissidents (e.g Pope Clement I) as well. In the IV century after the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire in the Crimea were created the first diocese in the Chersonese and the Bosporus, whose representatives participated in the First Ecumenical Council. In the IV century thanks to the Goths (Bishop Ulfilas personally) Christianity is widely spread on the territory of modern Ukraine, but was soon weakened by waves of migration of Asian nomads.
The main milestone in formation of Ukrainian orthodox religion was taken in 988 when great prince of Kiev, Vladimir Sviatoslavovich, had Christianized the Kievan Rus. This year is considered as beginning of East Slavic Orthodoxy. The first martyrs for the Kievan Christianity were Theodore Varyag and his son John. The first Metropolitan of Kiev became Michael the Syrian, and the main cathedral of the new Archdiocese becane Church of the Tithes. First Kiev Metropolia was established before the separation of the churches, and therefore did not have immunity against Catholicism. Metropolitan of Kiev easily took the union (Isidore), which eventually led to a split. In the north-eastern dioceses based in Moscow had been segragated anti-Catholic Orthodox Russian Church (with Jonah the Moscowian in the XV century.), Whereas most of the bishops and clergy of the Kyivan Church headed by Metropolitan Michael Ragoza took the union to form the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
From this short excursus you can find out how deep and ancient Ukrainian religious conflicts really are. Ukraine itslef is a place where were crossed many of cultures, religions, tribes and other historical legacy. That`s why it is so difficult to take any position in questions of cultural disputes.
The archdiocese of Kievan Orthodox church was renewed in 1620 with efforts of Moscowian metropolitan Theophanes. In 1687 Kievan anto-Catholic archdiocese (Varlaam Jasinski) merged with the Russian Orthodox Church. That`s how was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of Moscow Patriarchate) established.
By the fall of the monarchy in the Russian Empire in March 1917, in some dioceses of the South of Russia, with the support of the Central Rada there were autocephalous aspirations raised and expressed in the outcome of the Ukrainian church are looking forward to the establishment in October 1921 the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). As part of the denomination in 1944 Ukrainian Patriarch Dionysius was elevated to the first rank. By the end of the World War II, due to the consolidation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the territory of the USSR, the alternative Orthodox flows and jurisdictions had been eliminated.
After the collapse of the USSR and the creation of an independent state since the beginning of 1990 in Ukraine there is a fairly ambiguous situation, as the country has several jurisdictions, proclaiming themselves the local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. Nevertheless, canonical status has only the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). And this Church is now the aim of supporters of total "Ukrainization" whom are mostly from the Western Ukraine. Their arguments is simple: Ukraine must have the only state language, unitary system of state, only pro-Ukrainian Church. In other words they are trying maximally separate Ukraine from ancient Russian roots. "Uni-Ukrainian" don`t really care about culture, history and ancient traditions. They have their own exclusive sight and aggressively stand for it. First time after Euromaidan priests and anyone else underwent the aggression because of wearing a st. George ribbon because it was supposed that bloody Moscow occupants killed people on Maidan and now the Church itself fell into disfavor. Anyone can ensure himself in uttermost inadequacy and aggression of these so called "patriots" on the latest example when they came on several cars to the parish of Orthodox priest Vladimir Navozenko in little town Red Motovilovka near Kiev.
No commnets. Priest is humiliating in public and no one defends his position. All oral flame of accusers boils down to a few aspects: "You blessed Putin to occupy us. You`re sponsoring Russian occupants who are killing our soldiers. Your church is wrong because it Rus church. You must parish in Ukrainian language. Blame Russian occupants. Beast. You scum. This church is from Satan" and so on. No counter-arguments accepted. At the This is a typical pro-Ukrainian way of discussion:
- Their number must be 3-10 times bigger or they can`t tell what they think;
- They are waving in front of one`s face, insulting him, surrounding him, provoking him to fight as cheap jackals;
- No discussion needed: they already know everything and telling you the truth;
- Camera just in case;
- Stupid flashmob like pouring their opponent with brilliant green dye or tomato juice in particular.
Of course this is awful and this is like some open-air asylum. You just can`t believe in what you see. I don`t imagine something like this with Muslim or Judaic priest. Orthodox faith is really omni-forgiving.
This event is not sporadic or spontaneous. It is a politic of modern government and its strict line. During "Counter-offensive operation" 3 churches already was destroyed, near 10-20 priests was made to leave their parishes by ideological principle.