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An Overview of Church Schisms in Ukraine

This organizational scheme [overview, chart—trans.] of the church schisms in Ukraine which I compiled was put forth to reflect on the situation with the schismatic movements in Ukraine in the style of the “tree of schisms” which is known to us. The essential difference of this experience is that in the image of the true is represented not the Church of Christ, but actually divisive tumors, which like cancer metastases, with a rapid force affecting Ukrainian society, parasitically feeding on the body of the state, corrupting the minds and hearts of the spiritually weak and emotionally unstable adherents.

The first thing which I want to draw your attention to is that every schismatic leader who before possessed communion with the church and was a priest or a bishop, had so-called canonical immunity. The 25th Apostolic canon says:

If a bishop, presbyter, or deacon be found guilty of fornication, perjury, or theft, let him be deposed, but let him not be excommunicated; for the Scripture says, “you shall not punish a man twice for the same offense.” In like manner the other clergy shall be subject to the same proceeding.[1]

According to this principle, there is a system of restraints and warnings of a cleric who has gone astray. And you need to have a stubborn and conscious will to oppose the Church and go into a schism. The tragedy of the situation is usually aggravated by the fact that a schismatic priest carries along with him his whole flock or some part of it. The schismatic bishop can carry priests with him, the metropolitan – bishops. But we do not know of a single case where, following a priest, a bishop would also go into schism. This explains the hierarchical principle of the Church, based on the Holy Scriptures: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7)

The scheme is based on the subject-chronological principle, therefore, on the left side, along the entire timeline, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is located, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Therefore, Ukraine is the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. All Local Orthodox Churches recognize and respect this principle, according to which, there cannot be two archpastors of one city. Recently, some theologians have refuted this principle to call it an ecclesiological heresy.

In this case, the 8th Canon of the First Ecumenical Council says:

“…For it is not right that in the same city there should be two bishops…”[2]

The Bishop of Rome Cornelius (251-253) teaches:

“When in a certain place a Bishop is installed, and his instillation is recognized by all other bishops and the people, then under no circumstances should another bishop be installed on this place.”

The authoritative canonist Bishop Nicodemus (Milash) (+1956) in an interpretation of the 8th Canon of the First Ecumenical Council clarifies:

“It can be quite easy that the case with Novatian in Rome gave the Nicene Fathers a reason to publish the cannon on the Novatianists, remembering in this way, that this law basically stipulates that in one place (and according to our present canonical terminology — in the territory of one diocese) there can only be one bishop with real, proper episcopal jurisdiction and not two.”

Therefore the only legal, canonical, and grace-filled Church in Ukraine can only be considered to be the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, now headed by His Beatitude, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Onufry (Berezovsky), from 2014 to the present; from 1992 to 2014, the Primate of the UOC was His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev and All Ukraine (Sabodan).

Every schism, like every crime, has its motives. An ancient Roman aphorism reads: In fecit, qui prodest — for whom the crime advances, he has done it (from Latin). Who else besides the enemy of the race of man benefits from schism?

What are the goals of the schismatic leader? It can be beneficial both directly to the founder of the schism (for example, Filaret (Denisenko), and to the whole schismatic group (for example, to the self-consecrators). Suppose there existed some kind of theological problem or another, on the basis of which a specific historical figure can use as potential or power, knowledge, and personal authority, draws some or all of his followers into the fold of such a schismatic denomination, in which this problem would be resolved.

Thusly many schismatic movements rose and fell, having nothing in common with the Orthodox Church, ignoring soteriology[3] and canon law.

Schismatic denominations separated from the UOC are indicated with the year of the schism, and the name of its founder. Each schism also has both a legal name registered in the Ministry of Justice (for example, the UAOC and the UOC-KP) and a popular name (for example: “self-consecrators”, “Polycarpites” “Filaretists”, “anathemites”)

Brief information on the schisms displayed in this scheme:

  1. The Autocephalist schism of the first generation — the Lipkovsky-Self-Consecrators

Founder:  self-consecrated “Metropolitan” Vasily Lipkovsky, former Archpriest; 14–30th of October 1921the schismatic constituent assembly is held under the auspices of the “All-Ukrainian Orthodox Church Council.”[4]

Characteristically:AbolishedthecanonsoftheOrthodox Church and issued their own cannons. Proclaimed non-obligatory monasticism for bishops, sought for “nationwide independence”

In 1930, the UAOC self-liquidated as quickly as it had been previously organized.

  1. Autocephalist schism of the second generation — the Polycarpites

Founder: “Archbishop” Polikarp (Sikorskyi) former bishop of Lutsk; 24th of January 1942, In German-occupied Ukraine, the Reichskommissariat registered a new generation of the UAOC.

Characteristically: served and assisted the occupying regime “consecrated to the episcopacy” Mstyslav (Skrypnyk)

In January of 1944, together with the fascists, the schismatics left Ukraine, some of them scattered across different continents, and the other part ended the schism, joining the Patriarchate of Constantinople and ROCOR.

  1. Autocephalist schism of the third generation — Ioann(Bodnarchuk), neo-lipkovsky.

Founder:BishopIoann (Bodnarchuk)unremarkable.

22nd of October 1989Bishop Ioann (Bodnarchuk) violated the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Archbishop of Lviv Irenei (Seredniy), and performed a liturgy and self-proclaimed himself the “First Hierarch” of the UAOC.

Characteristically: Ioann (Bodnarchuk)conceded the leadership to “Metropolitan” Mstyslav (Skrypnyk), and he himself asked the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church for dismissal. Spread its influence abroad,blessed the creation of the  Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. On June 5-6th of 1990, at the “First All Ukrainian Council of the UAOC” Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) became “patriarch” and Ioann (Bodnarchuk) became “Metropolitan” and Locum Tenens. The UAOC transformed into a so called “Kievan Patriarchate”.

On October 14th of 1993, the part of the UAOC that was not united with Filaret, after the death of Mstislav (Skrypnik), elevated Archpriest who fell in schism Volodymyr [Dymytriy in “monastic tonsure”] Yarema to “patriarch”.

Atthat same time, The UAOC in the diaspora becomes congregational, not recognizing any of the “patriarchs”: neither Vladimir (Romanyuk) (1993–1995) nor Dymytriy (Yarema) (1993–2000).

In 1995, the hierarchs Constantine (Bagan) and Anthony (Scherba) emerged from this split, establishing a UOC in the bosom of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

On June 5th 1995,the registration of the UAOC Charter was restored, which meant the re-legalization of the UAOC as a religious organization (the first time was on October 2, 1990).

  • In 1996.as a result of the spontaneous “Council of Bishops” of the UAOC, the Synodal UAOC was formed, rejecting the “patriarch” Dymytriy (Yarema) and existed for exactly for exactly 1 year.

14–15 September 2000. The successor of the late Patriarch Dymytriy (Yarema) was Metropolitan Methodius (Kudryakov) (2000–2015), and after the Metropolitan Methodius (Kudryakov) Metropolitan Makariy (Maletich) (2015-2018).

  • In 2001 The hierarchy of the Metropolitan of Michael (Dutkevich) (+ 2001) is separated from the UAOC († 2001), establishing the “Apostolic Church”. Since 2002, the “primate” of this schism of the UAOC has been the “archbishop” of Luke (Narolsky) (2002–2014); and now the “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine” Stephen (Negrebetsky) (from 2014 to the present).
  • In 2002from the UAOC-S in the USA, the UAOC-S is established in Ukraine, headed by the “Metropolitan” Moses (Kulik).

On June 18th 2005Moses (Kulik) becomes the “patriarch”, and from the UAOC-“Soborno-pravnaya” (Catholic/Council based), is formed in Ukraine the “UAOC-canonical”.

  • In 2003, a hierarchy headed by the “archbishop” Igor (Isichenko) is separated from the UAOC. Since 2006, this schismatic group with its center in Kharkov is called UAOC (renovated).
  • The Filaret Schism — the foundation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate

Founder:former Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine and primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Filaret Denisenko

On May 27th1992 the Bishops’ Council of the UOC on behalf of the Synod of the ROC deprived Metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko) of his position as primate banned him from serving, and elected the new Primate of the UOC Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan). The disobedience of Metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko) to the Bishops’ Council of the UOC in Kharkiv is considered to be the beginning of the Filaret schism.

Characteristically:  for the first time, a split is created by a figure clothed with such dignity and authority, dragging two full-time bishops into the split: Jacob (Panchuk) and later Andrew (Gorak).
11th of June 1992 The Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church deposes Filaret from his episcopal and priestly dignities, officially lowering him to a simple monk.

25–26th of June 1992, the “unifying council of the two churches” announced the creation of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church – the Kiev Patriarchate” from the part of the UAOC Mstislav (Skrypnik) and the followers of Philaret (Denisenko). Mstislav (Skrypnik) himself learned about the incident from the evening news. The autocephalist self concecrators “Metropolitan” Filaret and “Bishop” Jacob “ordained bishops.”

21st of October 1993 Vladimir (Romanyuk) († 07/14/1995) becomes the “patriarch” of the UOC-KP, with the real power in the hands of the all-powerful hungry Filaret (Denisenko) with the rank of “deputy.”

20th of March 1994 “patriarch” Vladimir (Romanyuk) accepted with autonomous rights the schismatic group of the former Catholic priest, and now the “Metropolitan” of Milan Eulogius (Klaus Hessler).

22nd of October, 1995 Filaret became Patriarch of the UOC-KP

18–­23rd of February 1997 The Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church deprived of monasticism, excommunicated, and anathematized M.A. Denisenko [Filaret].

  • In 1996having quarreled with Dymytriy (Yarema), in 1997, not wanting to be behind the staff of Filaret (Denisenko), “Metropolitan” Peter (Petrus)in 1999 founded the “Autonomous Orthodox Community of St. John the Theologian in Lviv”. Does not posses a church nor obeys anyone.

25th of March 2000 The Synod of the UOC-KP establishes a special “tomos” with the Greek Exarchate, headed by Timothy (Kutalyos) († 2004), the “bishop” of Korsun (now called “Metropolitan” Chrysost (Bakomitros)). Filaret (Denisenko) does not recognize the deprivation of his dignity and anathema, continues to this day in the rank of “patriarch” of the greatest schismatic denomination in Ukraine[5].

  1. Formation of the so called Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

On the 9th of October, 2018 meetings of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarch began, which lasted three days. Having heard the exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who visited Ukraine, they decided to agree to the creation of the so-called OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine).

15th of December, 2018 The so-called Unification Council was held, at which the UOC-KP, the UAOC, and two former UOC-Metropolitans completely uncanonically, announced the unification of the Ukrainian “churches” into the “United Independent Local Church”. The self-proclaimed “Metropolitan” of Pereyaslavsky and Belaya Tservka Epiphanius (Dumenko) was elected “Primate” of the OCU.

January 6th 2019in Istanbul, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew awarded the so-called. “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine” Epiphanius the “Tomos of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”, which is still disputed by representatives of almost all canonical Orthodox Churches. In “Tomos”, the OCU is called the MHCU (the Most Holy Church of Ukraine).


Having briefly analyzed the main schismatic denominations in Ukraine, we clearly see how the grain of discord, once thrown into the soil, does not cease to bring its disastrous fruits, making the wheat into thorns, and the former clerics – schismatics and impostors. We clearly see how these many schisms are based on the personality of its founder, and with the death of the latter, continues to split further. And only the Church of Christ, strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, always abides in the unity of faith and the union of love. As stated in the Gospel of Luke: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.(Luke 22:31-32)


Archpriest Rostislav Yarema

Translation by Matfey Shaheen







[3]The Christian teaching and theology on Salvation.

[4]See here for more information: http://orthochristian.com/120077.html — trans.

[5]29 епархий и более 4000 приходов, по данным официального сайта УПЦ-КП www.cerkva.info/uk/statistics.html

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