Religion in Ukraine

Religion in Ukraine

Traditionally Ukraine was inhabited by pagan tribes, but by the turn of the first millennium AD Byzantine-rite Christianity was introduced. It is thought that Apostle Andrew came up to the site where the city of Kiev was built in his lifetime.

However it was only by the 900s A.D that the emerging state, the Kievan Rus became influenced by the Byzantine Empire, the first known conversion was by the dutchess Saint Olga who came to Constantinople in (?). Several years later, her son, Knyaz Vladimir baptised his people in the Dnieper River. This began a long history of the dominance of the Eastern Orthodoxy in Ruthenia that later was to influence Russia and Ukraine.

Judaism was present on Ukrainian lands for approximately 2000 years when Jewish traders appeared in Greek colonies. At the same time the neighbouring Khazar Kaganate was influenced by Judaism who profess Judaism. Since the 13th century the Jewish presence in Ukraine increased significantly. Later on in Ukraine was established new teaching of Judaism - Hasidism.

The Muslim religion was brought to Ukraine by a long history of controversies with Golden Horde and Ottoman Empire. Crimean Tatars accepted Islam by been part of Golden Horde and later the vassals of Ottoman Empire.

Religion in Ukraine went through a series of phases, but one notably in the times of the Soviet Union. Such was the rule of the official atheist regime, only a small fraction of people officially were church goers.

Religious structure of society

Estimates compiled by the independent Razumkov centre in a nationwide survey in 2003 found that 75.2 percent of the respondents believe in God and 21.9 percent said they did not believe in God. 37.4 percent said that they attended church on regular basis.

As of January 1st, 2006, there were 30,507 registered religious organizations, including 29,262 religious communities; the Government estimated that there were approximately 1,679 unregistered religious communities. More than 90 percent of religiously active citizens were Christians, the majority Orthodox. Religious practice was generally stronger in the western part of the country due to Western Ukraine being part of Soviet Union for shorter period(1939-41; 1944-91).

The different confessions in Ukranian society were estimated by the nationwide survey. The result differ from the official number of registered religious groups. Thus the Russian Orthodox church (today in Ukraine, it is called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)) traditionally (since the times of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union) has enjoyed the favour of many local authorities.The survey indicates
*50.44 percent - with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate;
*only 26.13 percent believers identify themselves as adherents of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (which has the largest number of Churches in Ukraine);
*8.02 percent belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (sometimes referred to as the Uniate, Byzantine, or Eastern Rite Church);
*7.21 percent to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church;
*2.19 percent belonged to the Roman Catholic Church;
*2.19 percent identified themselves as Protestants (Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonites, Adventists);
*0.63 percent belong to Jewish religious practices;
*3.2 percent said they belonged to "other denominations".

Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has 35 eparchies and 10,875 communities (approximately 68 percent of all Orthodox Christian communities in the country), most of which were located in the central, southern, and eastern oblasts. By 2007, the Church had 122 monasteries, 3519 monks and nuns, 7509 priests, 7755 churches with 840 churches being built. [ Religious Information Service of Ukraine] ]

The Church is headed by "blessed" Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Volodymyr (Viktor Sabodan). Church uses Slavonic languages for liturgy.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) was formed after independence and has been headed since 1995 by Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) with the title Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine, who was earlier the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine. The Church claims direct lineage to the Kievan Metropolia of Petro Mohyla.

The UOC-KP had 31 eparchies, 3,721 communities, and 2,816 clergy members. Approximately 60 percent of the UOC-KP faithful live in the western part of the country. The UOC-KP was not recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Communion.

The UOC-KP uses Ukrainian language.

Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) was founded in 1919 in Kiev. Banned during the Soviet era, it was legalized in 1989.

The church has 12 eparchies and 1,166 communities, approximately 70 percent of them in the western part of the country. The UAOC has 686 clergy members.

In the interest of the possible future unification of the country's Orthodox churches, it did not name a patriarch to succeed the late Patriarch Dmitriy. The UAOC was formally headed in the country by Metropolitan Methodij of Ternopil and Podil; however, the large eparchies of Kharkiv-Poltava, Lviv, Rivne-Volyn, and Tavriya have officially broken relations with Methodij and have asked to be placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

The UAOC uses the Ukrainian language.

Ukrainian Protestant Churches

Protestants make from 1% to nearly 3% of the population in Ukraine, but they make over 25% of church network in the country. The biggest is the pentecostal confession with over 2500 churches and over 250000 members the make several unions and also there are 1560 charismatic churches. There are over 2500 baptist churches with over 130000 members, pentecostals, methodists, mennonites, seventh day adventists, lutherans and others. There is also a Sub-Carpathian Reformed Church, which is one of the earliest Protestant communities in the country.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) constituted the second largest group of believers after the Christian Orthodox churches. The Union of Brest formed the Church in 1596 to unify Orthodox and Roman Catholic believers. Outlawed by the Soviet Union in 1946 and legalized in 1989, the UGCC was for forty-three years the single largest banned religious community in the world.

The UGCC had 18 eparchies, 3,433 communities, and 2,136 clergy members. The UGCC's members, who constituted a majority of the believers in western Ukraine, numbered approximately four million.

Major Archibishop Lubomyr Cardinal Husar is the present head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. [ Religious Information Service of Ukraine] ]

The UGCC uses the Ukrainian language.

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is traditionally associated with historical pockets of citizens of Polish ancestry who lived mainly in the central and western regions.

The Roman Catholic Church had 7 dioceses, 879 communities, and 499 clergy members serving approximately one million persons.

The Church uses the Polish, Latin, Ukrainian and Russian languages.

Other Christian Churches

There are also communities of Armenian Catholics, Armenian Apostolics and some others presented in Ukraine. [ Religious Information Service of Ukraine] ]


The size of the current Jewish population varied. The State Committee of Statistics estimated that there were 103,600 Jews. Some Jewish leaders, said the Jewish population could be as high as 300 thousand. Observers believed that 35 to 40 percent of the Jewish population was active communally; there were 240 registered Jewish organizations. Most observant Jews were Orthodox. There were 104 Chabad-Lubavitch communities in the country. The Progressive (Reform) Jewish movement had forty-eight communities.

Judaic congregations use Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ukrainian.


A major part of the south steppes of modern Ukraine once belonged to the Turkic peoples, most of whom were Muslims since the fall of the Khazar Khanate.

Ukraine is not a traditionally Muslim country; however, after the rule of the Golden Horde and the Crimean Khanate, vassal of the Ottoman Empire, a descendant people, the Crimean Tatars, are currently the only indigenous Muslim ethnic group in the country. The Nogays, another Muslim group who lived in the steppes of southern Ukraine, emigrated to Turkey in the 18th-19th century. In addition, there are Muslim communities in all major Ukrainian cities representing Soviet-era migrants from Muslim backgrounds. The amount of Muslim converts in Ukraine is said to be negligible. There are approximately 150 mosques in Ukraine.

The Muslim mosques use the Crimean Tatarian, Arabic, Azeri, Tatarian and Russian languages.

ee also

*History of Christianity in Ukraine
*Church of Ukraine
*Islam in Ukraine
*History of the Jews in Ukraine
*Religion by country
*Roman Catholicism in Ukraine
*Ukrainian Bible Society
*Bahá'í Faith in Ukraine


External links

* [ Religious-Information Service of Ukraine]
* [ Religions in Ukraine, Government Portal] , in Ukrainian

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