Save the date for the Society of St. John Chrysostom Pittsburgh Meeting
St. Anthony Chapel
1704 Harpster St
Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Map)
Topic: Orthodox Reunification in Ukraine
History was made on January 7, 2019, when His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, signed a Tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally recognizing the Church’s independence. Patriarch Bartholomew’s formal conferral of autocephaly is the culmination of a process that began amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and gained momentum after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and Russian backing of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Ecumenical Patriarch’s intention to create a single, autocephalous Church in Ukraine is motivated by a desire to unify the country’s 30 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, who were until recently split among three Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which is linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, and two Churches which had claimed autocephaly, but were not recognized by other Orthodox Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been a fiercely contested subject between the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople, with the Russian Orthodox Church seeing the move as an infringement of its jurisdiction and authority. The creation of a new church is an attempt to unite Ukrainian Orthodox believers under one roof. Politics, is of course, a key player in this autocephaly movement. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church a key campaign issue as he runs for re-election in March.
The fate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is in the hands of its Creator and Head, our Lord Jesus Christ and only in His hands, not in the hands of politicians or the powers of this world. The faithful can only be tools, instruments in the implementation of God’s providence for the Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox will have to seek His will and live according to it, even if it seems difficult or dangerous and never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
Presenter: Rev. Fr. Mark Swindle
Master of Divinity, 2010 St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary, South Bound Brook, NJ
Pastor, Holy Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Arnold, PA
Board Certified Chaplain, Torrance State Hospital, Blairsville, PA