After the death of its long-serving leader, Metropolitan Bishop Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate chose a new leader in August 2014. The election was accompanied by internal church disputes regarding the future orientation of the church, and in particular the degree of independence from Moscow. The new head of church, Metropolitan Bishop Onuphrius (Beresovsky) from Chernivtsi, is pursuing a balanced approach.
A large number of Jewish communities as well as non-profit and cultural organizations have been established in Ukraine since 1991. Restored and new synagogues serve as religious and cultural centers. The Jewish institutions focus their efforts on the integration of the history of the Ukrainian Jews into the historical memory of Ukraine. Ukrainian Jews also protested on Maidan Square.
Protestant Christians are a small minority in Ukraine, but there are a variety of religious groups (Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans). In his contribution, the author examines the social status and positioning of Ukrainian Protestants before and after Maidan. It was not until Maidan that Protestants became aware of their social responsibility; however, the events of Maidan simultaneously lead to a separation in the church.
The churches in Ukraine already reacted in December 2011 to the burgeoning social crisis with a joint appeal for more solidarity and respect for the rule of law. According to the author, a Ukrainian “liberation theology” was then developed against the neo-feudal system. However, on the Euro-Maidan square the churches lack the courage to assume concrete political responsibility. They should have done more to prevent the violent escalation of the revolution.
One crucial demand of the protesters on Maidan Square was a fundamental reform of the public administration. Yet the relationship between the church and state in Ukraine also requires restructuring. Due to the confusing allocation of authority, the state’s attempts to influence religious life and the privileging of large churches, the author calls for the abolition of the state department of religious affairs.