Universal Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on January 5, 2019. Metropolitan Epiphanius of Ukraine stands behind on the right. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Over the last 18 months, the number of Orthodox parishes in Ukraine which have voted to change their affiliation from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has slowed. Indeed, since January 2020, the Ukrainian church has not published any statistics on this trend.
But Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, says that congregations in almost all oblasts are still making the shift and that everyone should remember that according to the tomos of autocephaly, “all Orthodox congregations in Ukraine belong to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Indeed, the church leader says it is not entirely correct to talk about these churches making a transition because “according to the decisions which were taken by the Universal Patriarchate, all of them belong to the Orthodox church of Ukraine, and while for a time, they want to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, this is canonically incorrect.”
“Many new communities are registering, especially in the eastern part of Ukraine,” Epiphanius says. But he concedes that “this is a complicated process.” However, “step by step we are developing and confirming” the decision of the Universal Patriarchate about the status of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
Since the tomos of autocephaly was issued in January 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has grown in numbers and in recognition. As of January 2020, 7097 parishes were subordinate to it, while 12,410 retained loyalty to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (the Russian church).
The OCU is recognized by four Orthodox churches: Constantinople, Alexandrian, Greek, and Cypriot. According to the Universal Patriarchate’s website, the Ukrainian church now ranks 15th among the Orthodox churches of the world.
- Tomos ante portas: a short guide to Ukrainian church independence
- Another ancient Orthodox church recognizes Ukrainian autocephaly despite Moscow’s efforts to block it
- Moscow Patriarchate nativizing its church branch in Belarus to prevent moves toward autocephaly
- Zelenskyy’s election has not stopped the rise of the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church
- Attacking Ukrainian church: The Kremlin turns the Orthodox world into a battlefield