"Russian planet" tried to understand the difficult stories Orthodox Church in Ukraine
The chronicler Nestor, in his Tale of Bygone Years, quotes Prince Vladimir, who baptized the inhabitants of Kiev in 988, “Great God, who created heaven and earth! Look at these new people and, God forbid, let them know You, the true God, as the Christian countries knew You. Strengthen in them the right and unswerving faith, and help me, Lord, against the devil, so that I may overcome his tricks, hoping for You and for Your power. "
As the chronicler points out, right after the baptism, the people of Kiev quietly went home, not arranging on the occasion of the overthrow of the pagan idols and the adoption of the "Greek faith" of neither celebrations nor unrest. Such a calm change of faith, it would seem, promised the church in the Dnieper lands a peaceful existence for centuries. But it turned out differently: in the future there will be many religious schisms here - the last one is unfolding right now.
Moscow leaves Kiev
At a time when the monk of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Nestor wrote his chronicle (XII century), the lands of Kievan Rus were the metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, with its center in Kiev. But in the middle of the XIII century, the Mongol-Tatar invasion forever destroyed the unity of the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe.
The starting point in a long chronicle of religious schisms in Ukraine was the relocation of the Kiev Metropolitan Maxim to Vladimir in 1299, caused by the devastation of the Dnieper lands after the Horde invasion. The gradual elevation of Moscow in the XIV century led to the fact that in 1325, the new metropolitan moved his residence here.
For the first time, this decision of the Kiev metropolitans came back at the end of the XV century, when the Turks began to threaten Constantinople. In 1442, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in search of protection in the West, signed the Union of Florence with the Catholic Church. In Moscow, the unification with the Catholics was not recognized by anyone, except Metropolitan Isidore, a Greek who returned to Kiev after the conclusion of the union.
Then in 1448, the first Russian Metropolitan Jonah was elected in Russia, so formally it was Moscow Metropolis who initiated the split. For a century and a half, the Russian Orthodox Church was isolated. In the conditions of self-awareness as a besieged fortress between Catholic, Muslim and pagan peoples, church intellectuals developed the concept of the “Third Rome” as the last real Christian empire.
In the territories of modern Ukraine, which were then part of the Commonwealth, events went on as usual. Together with the Polish colonization of the Dnieper lands, the expansion of the Catholic Church began, the goal of which was, if not to oust local Orthodoxy, then to force it to union (because of the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, the Florentine agreements had no meaning for a long time).
In 1596, a new union was signed in Brest, which led to a split already in the Kiev Metropolis. Several bishops recognized the primacy of the Pope. Thus, the Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) appeared on the modern lands of western Ukraine — Orthodox in form and Catholic in content.
Isidore of Kiev. Source: catholichurch.ru
Director of the Center for Ukrainian Studies and Belarussian Studies at the Faculty of History of Moscow State University, Mikhail Dmitriev, believes that the Brest Union was based on several complementary factors. “Firstly, the Catholic religious tradition is much more than the Orthodox one, guided by the ideal of Christian unity and sought to unite all the churches around the Roman throne. Secondly, at that time the Polish clergy and, to a lesser extent, the government had a desire to unify the religious life of the Commonwealth. Thirdly, there was also a struggle against the influence of Protestantism within the framework of the Counter-Reformation, ”the historian told the Russian Planet.
But judging by historical documents and testimonies of contemporaries, the Brest Union of 1596 was in reality far from the lofty goals of Christian unity. The initiators of rapprochement with the Catholic Church were the bishops of the Kiev Metropolis. Dmitriev believes that the crisis in the relationship between the Orthodox clergy and the laity in the Commonwealth prompted them to do so.
“At the heart of this conflict was the question of how to further develop the church. The choice was between two models: the Byzantine, where the laity had much greater weight in church life, or Latin, where church clergy completely dominated. There was no secular Orthodox power in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, that is, the laity involved in the life of the church. Instead of them, the Orthodox brotherhoods came out in competition with church hierarchs, ”explains the historian.
The clergy lagged behind the events, so they had only to react to the initiatives that came from the fraternities. This is one of the phenomena of Ukrainian history - voluntary associations of laity who set as their goal ecclesiastical enlightenment and the struggle against Catholic, Protestant and Polish influence. By the end of the 16th century, their positions had become so strong that some Orthodox bishops began to seek protection from the Catholic Church.
Moscow returns to Kiev
The prospect of universal union did not arouse great enthusiasm among the population of the Dnieper lands. Orthodoxy, or, as it was then called, “the Russian faith,” became the ideological foundation of the struggle against the Polish domination and expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the Black Sea region. Resistance was based on the Cossacks with the center in the Zaporizhzhya Sich.
The high point of this protracted conflict was the uprising of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1648 year. One of his most important results was the signing of an agreement between Zaporizhzhya Cossacks and the Moscow Tsar in 1654 in Pereslavl. According to its results, all the lands conquered by the Cossacks from the Commonwealth passed under the authority of Moscow, and the Cossack elite became vassals of the king.
Skargi's sermon (Jesuit, initiator of the Union of Brest. - RP), 1864 year, Jan Matejko
By this time, the Russian Orthodox Church had changed dramatically. After the fall of Constantinople and the Muslim conquest of virtually all Orthodox lands in the Balkans by the Muslim Turks, Moscow became the only major and independent center of the “Greek faith”. In this situation, the Patriarch of Constantinople was forced to seek protection in Muscovy.
In 1589, the Moscow metropolitan received the title of patriarch, and the Russian Orthodox Church acquired autocephaly and official recognition of the international center of Orthodoxy. After the accession of the left-bank Ukraine, the question of joining the Kiev Metropolis to the Russian Orthodox Church became purely technical, but due to internal church events and procedures, it was only put into practice in 1688, when the Constantinople Council secured the right to govern the left-bank Kiev metropolia to the Moscow Patriarch.
Around the same time, the Kiev Synopsis was created in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where for the first time an anonymous author suggested the unity of the three Slavic peoples of Great, Minor and White Russia on the basis of the Orthodox faith. These ideas became a peculiar addition to the concept of the “Third Rome”, where the most important element of the “Rurik inheritance” was introduced - Moscow’s claims on the lands of former Kievan Rus. In the future, the task of collecting the “Rurik legacy” will become fundamental for the Russian Empire and, having lost its religious connotation, will be used in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.
Empire unites and dominates
It must be said that the influence of the Little Russian priesthood contributed to the spread of the ideas described above in Russia to a large extent. As early as the beginning of the 17th century, Ukrainian priests began to actively invite to Russia, where the level of education among the clergy was extremely low.
Many of them received education in Europe, and before the reforms of Peter I, Ukrainian priests were one of the main sources of Westernizing influence in Russia. Already under Peter I, Ukrainian priests Feofan Prokopovich and Stefan Yavorsky played a prominent role both in church life and in the development of education and other reforms. During this period, 55% of large hierarchs in the Russian Orthodox Church were Ukrainians.
Mikhail Dmitriev notes that awareness of the role and means of Ukrainian influence is one of the key points in understanding the logic of Peter's church reforms. “It is especially necessary to understand how the Ukrainian priesthood was transformed and how he managed to bring to Russia pronounced Catholic and Protestant influences,” the historian specifies.
In his opinion, this impact was very large. “In the second half of XVII - the first half of the XVIII century, church education and practices of the spiritual life changed under the influence of attitudes that first appeared in Ukraine. Thus, an illustrative example is how the Ukrainian priesthood prepared for the abolition of the patriarchate in Russia for several years at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, ”says Dmitriev.
The implementation of this project is related to the activities of the Ukrainian priest Feofan Prokopovich, who was one of the main associates of Peter I. By the end of 1701, the Tsar-Reformer, by his decision, abolished the institution of patriarchy in the Russian Orthodox Church, restoring the monastic order, abolished in the middle of the XVII century. And in 1718, Peter I expressed the idea that the church should be managed collectively. The legislative basis for this decision was created by Feofan Prokopovich, who was then the bishop of Pskov.
A reproduction of a lithograph in an engraving of the 18th century with a portrait of Feofan Prokopovich. Source: RIA News
The “Spiritual Regulations” developed by him meant the incorporation of the Orthodox Church in a Protestant fashion into state structures. The “Regulations” established in Russia the Sacred Government Synod, which, by the nature of its activities, turned out to be a typical Peter's board - in fact, the Ministry for Spiritual Affairs. The church hierarchs, although reluctantly, signed this document. The Patriarch of Constantinople, who during this period did not have to wait for help from anywhere except Moscow, recognized the Synod "in Christ as a brother" with equal patrimony dignity.
But the church was not the only institution that Peter's reforms deprived independence. The absolute monarchy created by the first Russian emperor no longer wanted to tolerate any form of autonomy within its borders. The whole XVIII century in the Russian Empire will go unifying processes in all spheres of life, which will reach its climax in the reign of Catherine II.
The concentration of power in Moscow was one of the reasons for the liquidation of the Ukrainian Hetmanate and Zaporizhzhya Sich. And if the Hetman’s deprivation of autonomy in the Russian Empire was relatively painless (the Cossack elite turned into the Russian nobility with pleasure), then the destruction of the Zaporizhzhya Sich forced many representatives of the Cossack republic to leave the Dnieper lands forever.
But by this historical moment, the era of absolute monarchies in Europe began to lean towards its decline. The Great French Revolution that took place at the end of the 18th century, in the midst of many of its achievements, gave the world nationalism as a political principle. From now on, the state was no longer associated with the possession of the monarch - it became the property of the whole nation. Ethnic minorities in the European empires ideology of nationalism made it possible to put forward claims to their own state independence.
And the first shoots of nationalism on Ukrainian soil were not long in coming. At the beginning of the XIX century an anonymous "History of the Rus" appeared. From a scientific point of view, this book is hardly a good presentation of Ukrainian history, but it carried the most important idea to substantiate the future claims of Ukrainian nationalists to Russia: Hetman was an independent Ukrainian republic, which was captured and destroyed by ruthless Moscow. In the future, such maxims will appear more often. The scientific substantiation of this version of Ukrainian history at the beginning of the 20th century will be given by Mikhail Hrushevsky in his multivolume History of Ukraine-Russia.
Mikhail Dmitriev notes that in the imperial period no serious attempts were made to create an autocephalous Ukrainian church. “In the Russian Empire, such topics begin to be discussed no earlier than the beginning of the 20th century. There are very few studies showing that in the earlier period, among the Little Russian clergy, tendencies toward separation from Moscow were observed. The only thing that can be said here is the possible influence on the clergy of the memory that before the 1688, the Kiev metropolitan was independent in relation to Moscow, ”the researcher explained.
Allied indestructible Orthodoxy
When the February revolution took place in the Russian Empire, Ukrainian nationalists first spoke about the need for federalization, but the demands for complete independence did not take long to wait. The Orthodox Church could not stand aside in such a situation. In the 19th century, in the Orthodox world concentrated in the Ottoman Empire, it became common practice to create an autocephalous church independent of Constantinople. The acquisition of autocephaly in the Orthodox world has become a kind of symbol of independence.
In 1917, the Ukrainian priesthood spoke for the first time about the need to create an independent church from Moscow. According to Orthodox canons, the last word remained with the Patriarch of Constantinople. Even if he supported the idea of a nationalist-minded Ukrainian clergy, he would simply have no one to recognize as the legitimate patriarch.
Sofia square in Kiev. German occupation during the civil war, 1918 year. Source: mi3ch / Livejournal
There was not a single Orthodox bishop who wanted to stand at the head of the autocephalous church. Yes, and the implementation of these ideas, the story has given too little time. When Ukrainian nationalists and priests announced in May 1920 of the creation of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), the fate of Ukrainian independence was already predetermined.
In real history, the Bolsheviks took the last word about the possibility of autocephaly, who actively fought with the church. But numerous Ukrainian immigrants to the United States and Canada after the civil war received their church, albeit non-canonical, but became a symbol of hope for a return to an independent homeland.
And in 1921, Patriarch Tikhon, realizing that nationalist tendencies in Ukraine were not so easy to end, granted the Kiev metropolis the status of an exarchate, that is, part of the church, administratively subordinate to the Moscow patriarchate, but independent in internal affairs. This is how the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) appeared. But in the situation of persecution of the church it was a purely symbolic step.
The next round in the history of Ukrainian Orthodoxy again occurred not in Kiev, but in Moscow. During World War II, the Soviet state stopped waging war on religion. In the 1943 year, the patriarchate was restored. The relationship between church and state in many ways began to resemble the old pre-revolutionary model. Only the Soviet Union had much more powerful resources to expand the sphere of influence of the ROC MP than the Russian Empire.
During the Second World War, for the first time in its history, Ukrainian ethnic lands were united in one public entity. It was a unique chance for the ROC MP to return to its canonical space the lands lost during the numerous schisms and the unions of previous centuries.
In 1945, the process of preparing for the liquidation of the Uniate Greek Catholic Church began. This denomination was rightly viewed by the NKVD as an organization hostile to Soviet power. In 1946, in Lviv, a so-called “initiative group” of the clergy convened a council, which announced the break of the Union of Brest with the Catholic Church. After that, the Western Ukrainian Greek Catholics began a catacomb period of history.
But not only the Greek Catholics were victims of the restoration of the canonical space of the ROC MP. The Romanian church was also ousted from the territory of Ukraine and the territory of Moldova that is canonical for it, which fell under the jurisdiction of the ROC MP. By the end of Stalin’s rule, the ROC MP had become the only legal Orthodox organization in Ukraine and throughout the USSR.
In 1988, in the USSR, the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia was widely celebrated. From that moment on, the life of the church became more active. In the Ukrainian church, sentiments began to grow to gain full autocephaly. In a situation of growing church separatism, the Bishops' Council of 1990 of the year confirmed the status of the Belarusian and Ukrainian churches as exarchates. They received full financial independence and almost complete independence in the church life.
But these measures did not remove the growing religious tension in Ukraine. The liberalization of religious relations allowed the Uniates to emerge from the underground and make claims on the years taken away in 1940 – 1950 in favor of the UOC-MP churches. None of the parties even tried to find a compromise solution. In addition, the emigrant UAOC penetrated into Ukraine, where separatist-minded Orthodox priests and laity began to en masse.
Metropolitan Philaret. Photo: ITAR-TASS
But another split came from the side where no one was waiting for it. In the year 1990, after the talent and independence of the Ukrainian Church, its metropolitan became the charismatic Philaret (Denisenko), who had previously held the post of Ukrainian exarch for 25 years. The Moscow Patriarchate hoped that he would be able to cope with the demands of the Uniates, and with the heightened transition of Ukrainians to the non-canonical UAOC. At first, Filaret spoke very harshly and fought against the tendencies that were negative for the Ukrainian church.
But in the second half of 1991, when the collapse of the Soviet Union became inevitable, and Ukraine announced its full sovereignty, the classic “Balkan scenario” was repeated. After August 1991, both politicians and clergymen declared that Ukraine needed its own autocephalous church.
In November, the Council of the UOC was convened in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Unlike the old Council of the 1920 of the year, which led to the creation of the UAOC, almost all Ukrainian bishops attended the Council convened by Filaret. He decided to ask Alexy II for the talent of a full autocephaly. The Ecumenical Patriarch, who, according to Orthodox canons, always has the last word in such disputes, could only agree to this after the consent of Moscow, since Ukraine from the 17th century was officially recognized as its canonical territory.
As a result, difficult negotiations began with the aim of settling contradictions in a canonical way. They ended up with Philaret being deprived of the rank of Metropolitan in the spring of 1992. But he, in turn, with the support of the Ukrainian presidential administration and the public of the country, announced the creation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP).
Not a single Orthodox autocephalous church recognized it as canonical. Even the UAOC, for the time being united with the UOC-KP, later withdrew from its membership. According to one of the versions, such a sharp turn in the views and actions of Filaret is connected with the fact that he lost the internal struggle for the post of the Moscow Patriarch in 1990, to Alexius II.
Because of the interchurch chaos in Ukraine, a real religious war has unfolded. In form, it differed little from the redistribution of property in the entire post-Soviet space at the beginning of the 1990-s.
The second president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, in his book “Russia - not Ukraine” describes the religious situation this way after the 1991 year: “The messages about the events that went to my table every morning sometimes reminded me of messages from the theater of operations. More than a thousand church parishes participated in the battle! The houses of the priests were burning, not only temples were taken by storm, but entire villages, sometimes it seemed that it was a war of everyone against everyone, although everyone knew his opponent well. They continued to divide churches and parishes. ”
By the middle of the 1990s, the conflict moved from the active phase to the passive stage. The main property was divided. The Greek Catholic Church was able to return most of its temples. In western Ukraine, the UOC-MP was crushed. In Kiev, the main church property was divided between the UOC-KP and the UOC-MP. Thus, standing opposite each other, the St. Michael and St. Sophia Cathedral in the Ukrainian capital became the property of the Kiev and Moscow Patriarchate, respectively.
Mikhail Dmitriev believes that the current schism among the Ukrainian Orthodox has not been predetermined by history.
“Today, four churches have the greatest influence in Ukraine: the canonical UOC MP, the non-canonical UOC-KP, the equally non-canonical UAOC and the uniate, actively growing UGCC. But it is unlikely that today in the disputes between them there is something predetermined by the character of the old church history and of strictly purely religious disputes.
In any Christian church culture there are groups of dissidents who either turn into a separate church or do not turn, the historian shares his opinion. - Today’s fragmentation of the Orthodox in Ukraine is primarily connected with the specific socio-economic and political situation that developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. No one will deny that at that moment it was politicians who had the strongest influence on the split of the churches, trying to win dividends for themselves as a result. ”
Over the years since the last schism, there has been an interesting practice when politicians who hold different views visit parishes belonging to different churches for major religious celebrations. Thus, a supporter of "multi-vector" in foreign policy, Leonid Kuchma attended the temples of the UOC-MP and the UOC-KP at the same time.
Viktor Yushchenko, who succeeded him, who adhered to national liberal views, appeared at religious celebrations exclusively in churches belonging to the non-canonical Kyiv Patriarchate. Moreover, in the program of the Yushchenko party “Our Ukraine” there even existed a clause in which the achievement of autocephaly was promised. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, although he visited the churches of the UOC-MP, tried to keep away from religious disputes.
Vladimir Mironenko, head of the Center for Ukrainian Studies at the Institute of Europe, RAS, believes that the split of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine before the events on Euromaidan did not have a significant impact on the Ukrainian political process.
“It is impossible to deny that this factor mattered, but clearly secondary or tertiary purely by virtue of the state of religiosity of the Ukrainians. Yes, in Ukraine, politicians often use religious identification for public purposes. But it is a projection of other social differences between regions, of which the confessional split is a part, ”Mironenko explains. - Eastern regions and politicians - people from there prefer Moscow Orthodoxy, in the west and the center - Kiev. This is just part of a political mosaic. ”
Crimea in exchange for the "Russian World"
The contradictions between the Orthodox Kiev and Moscow with a new force erupted in 2009, when the post of Moscow Patriarch took Kirill. From the very beginning, the newly elected head of the church launched an active offensive on the Ukrainian front, demonstrating that the ROC MP is not going to abandon its canonical space, which was actively promoted in non-religious spheres under the brand of the Russian World. But the ROC MP no longer has the resources that would enable it to quickly and effectively achieve its own goals.
The Moscow Patriarch is crowded in Ukraine not only by non-canonical Orthodox churches, but also by the recognized Romanian Patriarchate, which claims its many parishes in the south-west of the country. In addition, the complex problem of the UOC MP flock, which is concentrated in the south-east of Ukraine, is added. Here, because of the Soviet legacy, atheism is more common than anywhere else in Ukraine. These same territories are the site of active expansion of Protestant churches, which are finding more and more supporters.
The authority of the non-canonical Kiev Patriarchate in Ukrainian society increased significantly after the start of Euromaidan’s actions at the end of 2013. When on the night of 30 on November 1 of December, the clergy of the St. Michael's Cathedral in Kiev let in the protesters fleeing the “Golden Eagle”, the Russian observers were quite surprised. Priests' speeches and collective prayers, which are difficult to present at opposition rallies in Moscow, on the Maidan were common practice. In Russia, people do not understand the role that the church plays for Ukrainians as a symbol of national independence.
According to the Ukrainian historian, associate professor of the Faculty of Sociology of the National Pedagogical University named after M. Dragomanov, Cyril Galushko, the role of “non-Moscow” churches has now grown. “Today, among the patriotic part of Ukrainian society, the Kiev Patriarchate Church and the Autocephalous Church, which are not subordinate to Moscow, are the most popular. In public space, the main church is represented primarily by the figure of Patriarch Philaret. Today, he is positioning the Kyiv Patriarchate to actively help society and the army in the circumstances, ”the historian told the Russian Planet.
The Ukrainian information space is currently filled with information about the growing momentum in the UOC-MP. Galushko points out that this was due to her dubious position in relation to the events during Euromaidan and the further political crisis.
According to Galushko, the idea of "Russian World", which was promoted by Patriarch Kirill, failed. “Russia acquired the Crimea, but lost the loyal part of the socially active Ukrainian society in most of the regions. It should be noted that the idea of "Russian World" was not promoted as actively as resources allowed. In this context, not only Patriarch Kirill appeared in the Ukrainian information space, but also the Minister of Education Tabachnik. But real steps on the part of the former President Yanukovych in this direction did not follow. Now, however, there are no longer any supporters of the Russian World, ”the historian explained.
In the spring of this year, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, defiantly stepped aside from public support for the inclusion of the Crimea and Sevastopol into Russia and did not attend the ceremony of the entry of two new regions. It was he who was the first to congratulate Russia on the election of the fifth president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.