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The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North and South America

In 988 Prince Volodymyr the Great established Christianity in its Byzantine-Slavic rite as the national religion of his country, Kyivan-Rus. This happened before the Great Church Schism of 1054 divided Christian East from West. The Kyivan Church inherited the traditions of the Byzantine East and was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Yet this Church also remained in full communion with the Latin West and its patriarch, the Pope of Rome. Though Constantinople and Rome had their disputes, the Kyivan hierarchy tried to work for Christian unity. Representatives from Rus participated in the Western Councils of Lyon (1245) and Constance (1418). Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kyiv, was himself one of the creators of the Union of Florence (1439).
While the Kyivan Metropolitanate was working towards reunion, a new metropolitanate arose north of Kyiv, in Moscow. The Church of Moscow refused to accept the Union of Florence and separated from the ancient metropolitanate in Kyiv, announcing its autocephaly (self-governing status) in 1448. In 1589, with Greek Orthodoxy and Constantinople subject to Turkish domination, the Church of Moscow became a patriarchate.
The Kyivan Church was challenged by the Protestant Reformation and the renewed Catholicism of that period and was also suffering a serious internal crisis. The Synod decided to pass under the jurisdiction of the see of Rome. The traditional Eastern rite of the Kyivan Church was preserved and its ethnic, cultural and ecclesial existence was guaranteed. This was confirmed at the Council of Brest in 1596, which is the beginning of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as an institution.
Some hierarchs and faithful of the Kyivan Church, however, insisted on remaining under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Torn by internal division, the Central and Eastern sections of Ukraine passed under the control of the ruler of Moscow in 1654. Soon the Orthodox Kyivan Metropolitanate was under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate (1686). It then became merely a "territory" of the Russian Orthodox Church, subject to the Synod in Moscow. Coinciding with this period of Russian and other imperial expansion, many Ukrainian bishops, including Metropolitans of Kyiv, opted to unify with the Bishop of Rome, while retaining the Byzantine ritual and spiritual traditions. This formed what is called the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. As the Tsarist Empire grew, it repressed the Greek Catholics and forced "conversions" to Russian Orthodoxy (1772, 1795, 1839, 1876). The Pratulin Martyrs died as a result of these repressions.
Russia already understood, in the 17th Century, that the Ukrainians differed entirely from the Russians in language, customs and views of life. The Russian government, therefore, inaugurated a policy of rigid repression of all these points of difference. As early as 1680 it prohibited any use of the Ukrainian language in ecclesiastical literature. In 1720, the printing of any Ukrainian books at all was forbidden. All Ukrainian schools were closed. The Ukrainian orthodox church, which enjoyed absolute autonomy, with a sort of loose subordination to the Patriarch of Constantinople, was made subject to the Patriarch of Moscow (later to the Holy Synod) and became completely Russified. The Ukrainian people became completely estranged from their former national church, which was a tool wielded for purposes of Russification.
While the Ukrainian Orthodox Church remained under Russian subjugation, the idea of seperation from Moscow was never totally forgotten, beginning with movements in the 1890s. Orthodox clergy and laity in Ukraine were dissatisfied with the close connections of the Russian Orthodox Church with Russian national interests. "Ukrainophile" movements began and after the Russian Revolution in 1917 a movement began to gain autocephalous status for Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The first Metropolitan of the restored church was Dionisiy Valedynskyj of Warsaw, consecrated in 1913 by Patriarch Gregory IV Haddad of Antioch. Upon him was placed responsibility of implementing the decree of the Constantinople Patriarch.
The newly independent Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine was formed in October 1921 under the leadership of Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivskyj, following the first declaration of Ukrainian Independence in 1918. The rebirth of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in 1921 restored the ancient Kyivan Metropolia to its original independence and is considered the "first resurrection of the church." This Sobor elected Metropolitan Vasyl Lipkivskyj to lead the church. In 1924, a decree of the Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory VII, declared the Kyiv Metropolitanate to once again be autocephalous and ordered the consecration of new bishops. Ukraine however, was then occupied by Soviet-Russian authorities and the church faced its first period of bitter persecution. By 1927 it was clear that the Communist regime would not stop its persecution of this Church, having by that year arrested all its Hierarchs and most of its clergy and destroyed most of the Church properties. By 1937 all the Bishops had been executed and there were no signs of the Church’s life existent.
Attempts to proclaim autocephaly in the 1920s and 1940s were repressed by the Soviet powers. In 1942, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine was re-born once again, during a brief relaxation of religious persecution during the German occupation of Ukraine. Metropolitan Dionisiy served people of Ukrainian origin in Poland and in 1942, the political climate was right for the consecration bishops in Kyiv. Over several months, in St. Andrew Cathedral, many bishops were ordained to serve the UAOC and eparchies were established. This restoration of the hierarchy is known as the "second resurrection of the UAOC." the situation in Ukraine after World War II did not allow the church to flourish there under Soviet domination. The Ukrainian hierarchy, clergy and laity were coerced to join the Russian Orthodox Church or face imprisonment and death. Many were able to flee to the West, primarily through Germany. Others suffered martyrdom, rather than abandon their church and principles. The bishops and people of the UAOC brought their Ukrainian faith and church to the Diaspora, particularly the United States, Canada & South America.
One of bishops consecrated for the resurrected church in 1942 in Kyiv was Bishop Mstyslav (Skrypnyk), who eventually came to Canada to lead the Ukrainian Orthodox Church there, taking over from Archbishop John. Bishop Mstyslav left Canada within a few years and came to the United States to join the jurisdiction of Bishop Bohdan.
After the fall of communism, Ukraine once again became a free land and the UAOC was allowed to function freely. This is referred to as the "third resurrection of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church." At the Sobor of 1990, Metropolitan Mystyslav was elected to be the first Patriarch of Kyiv & All Ukraine. Subsequent patriarchs included Volodymyr (Romaniuk) and Dymytriy (Yarema).
Meanwhile in the Diaspora, bishops of the UAOC in the USA, decided in 1996, to place themselves and their parishes under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, thereby relinquishing the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church and forming instead, an eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne.
In the same year, Metropolitan Stephan Petrovich, who had been active in assisting the revitalization of the Mother Church following the Soviet period, received authorization from hierarchy in Ukraine to continue the UAOC as a self-governing entity in North & South America. He guided the Diaspora church during these turbulent times until his retirement in June of 2004.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/ukraine/uaoc.htm

Statment by Metropolitan Stephan May 20, 2011

Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine
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