Orthodox Church, Kyiv Photo: pixabay.com
A high 72 percent of the Ukrainians declare themselves Orthodox Christians. Therefore, Orthodox Christianity is predominant in Ukraine and it is not logical to bring something back when it is already there. In addition, the post manipulates by claiming that peace in Ukraine depends on religion, although religion is a stumbling block when it comes to Russia. The resolution of the war, however, cannot be found there, but in the moves of the Russian political elite led by Vladimir Putin, who decided to perform a military invasion of Ukraine
A post on the social network Facebook (screenshot here) claims that peace in Ukraine will happen when the Ukrainians will bring the Church back to Orthodoxy. This is a false claim. Neither do the Ukrainians need to bring the Church back to Orthodoxy, nor does the war depend on that.
There will be peace in Ukraine only after the Ukrainians bring the Church back to Orthodoxy. And that will be to the last Ukrainian, says the post.
In fact, the post has two incorrect pieces of information – that the Ukrainians need to bring the church back to Orthodoxy and that the peace in Ukraine depends on that.
Firstly, the Ukrainians need not bring the church back to Orthodoxy because the Ukrainian Church is already Orthodox, therefore there is nothing to bring back.
Although Ukraine does not have an official national religion, Eastern Orthodoxy has been the dominant religious belief for a long time. The formal separation between the State and the Church secures Ukraine a high level of religious freedom. In the practical tradition, however, Eastern Orthodoxy has a significant influence on Ukrainian politics, society, education, law, and family values. The cultural impact of Eastern Orthodoxy is visible in public architecture, as well as in the private space.
The research performed by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in 2022, indicates that Christianity is the predominant religion in Ukraine, and 85 percent of the population identify as Christians. A high 72 percent of the population declared itself as Orthodox Christians, out of which 54 percent are followers of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, 14 percent identify themselves as Orthodox Christians without specifying the Church affiliation, while 4 percent affiliate to the Moscow Patriarchate. Another 9 percent of the Ukrainians are devoted to the Catholic Church of Ukraine: 8 percent are Ukrainian Greek Catholics and 1 percent are Latin Catholics. Two percent of the population identify with the main Protestant Church, and an additional 2 percent identify with alternative Christian sects (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Subsequently, the Orthodox religion is actually dominant in Ukraine, which makes the Facebook post claiming that the Ukrainians need to bring the Church back to Orthodoxy, incorrect and irrational. It is illogical to claim that Ukrainians need to bring back something that they already have and have never substituted or abandoned whenever.
The post also senselessly claims that peace depends on whether the Ukrainians will bring the Church back to the Orthodox religion. As previously explained, Orthodoxy is predominant in Ukraine, therefore one cannot bring back something that is already dominant. An additional manipulation is that the peace in Ukraine depends on religion.
Truly, religion is a stumbling block between Ukraine and Russia. A solution for the war, however, cannot be sought there, but in the moves of the Russian political leadership headed by Vladimir Putin, who decided to perform a military invasion on the territory of his neighbor.
The historic ties to Moscow had been preventing the establishment of a united national church in Ukraine for a long time. Two main Churches were fighting for the church authority: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, which was established in 1990 as a self-governing church under the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and is the biggest in Ukraine with approximately 12,000 parishes, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate, established in 1992 by Ukrainian clergy that demanded independence from ROC.
In October 2018, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Russian, after more than 300 years. The decision, which was approved by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, known as the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the symbolic “first among equals” of the world’s Orthodox churches, triggered a major fallout within the Orthodox world, possibly the most serious in 1,000 years. The same month the Declaration was made, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it would break off relations with the Patriarchate.
As a result of the split, the Russian Orthodox Church stands to lose much of its territory, believers, and, crucially, its spiritual and symbolic authority over Ukraine. Both Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill condemned the schism.
This, however, is not the reason for war, as the post suggests. In February 2022, a sovereign European country attacked another sovereign European country, for the first time in many years.
On 24th February 2022, Russia initiated missile attacks on locations throughout Ukraine, including the capital city Kyiv. Russian infantry forces entered Ukrainian territory, and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by declaring martial law, terminating diplomatic relations with Russia, and proclaiming general mobilization. This invasion is the biggest military attack in Europe after the Second World War and is the subject of widespread international condemnation as well as introducing sanctions against Russia.
The manners in which Russia is trying to justify its military aggression in Ukraine are multiple, but the facts say that Moscow wants to carry out its imperialist ambitions in Ukraine, by using its weaponry and brutal tactics, including attacks on civilians. All that has nothing to do with the churches and the religious determination of the people.
Hence, due to all of the above-noted facts, we assess that it is not true that peace in Ukraine depends on ”when the Ukrainians will bring the Church back to Orthodoxy“, as falsely claimed by this Facebook post.