Ukraine experienced a period of active secularization and aggressive atheistic propaganda under the Soviet regime, and then an intensive religious Renaissance since its independence in 1991. These processes made a unique imprint on Ukraine’s religious landscape. Many researchers agree that Ukraine is the most religiously pluralistic society in Europe. It escapes the typical format of its neighboring European countries and Russia, which have one dominant national church and religious minorities. Ukraine supports unrivaled religious pluralism with its liberal legislation, which grants freedom for the development of the religious market and competition.
In 2018 and 2019, Ukrainian Orthodox communities began the process of institutional reorganization that resulted in the formation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) with the support of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
To form the OCU, the leaders of the two bodies of Orthodoxy in Ukraine (Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church) and some hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate agreed to merge into one. The effort was initiated by Ukraine’s political leadership, with popular support generated in part by the war between Russia and Ukraine. In December 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarch indicated his support for such a move, and in January 2019, he granted a Tomos, or decree of autocephaly.
After the OCU had been recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the individual parishes of the UOC-MP began the process of transitioning to the new Church. Many Ukrainian Orthodox believers were faced with a choice of staying under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate or becoming part of the OCU. These changes take on new layers of meaning given the ongoing armed conflict, and the creation of a new canonically recognized autocephalous (independent) Orthodox church has implications for Eastern Christianity and geopolitics more broadly.
In the process of granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephaly and during the recent presidential and parliamentary election campaigns, the question of religious self-identification emerged at the center of nation- and state-building processes in Ukraine. The new “Religious Revolution” module of “MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine” opens possibilities to analyze recent changes in Ukraine’s religious landscape. MAPA’s Religion module presents sociological survey data about Ukrainians’ religious beliefs, attitudes, and practices. In the web map, data from three surveys (2013, 2017, 2019) can be used to acquire a visual representation of regional religious differences and changes over time.
This project is in copyright. If you reproduce any map, please refer to:
- Maps for March 2013, March 2015 and October-November 2017. Map Source: Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. © 2019 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Data Source: University of St. Gallen. Financial support: 2013 – the Swiss National Foundation, 2015 - the Wolodymyr George Danyliw Foundation and the Swiss National Foundation.
- Maps based on the Rating Group Ukraine data, January 2019. Map Source: Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. © 2019 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Data Source: Rating Group Ukraine; International Republican Institute; Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Government of Canada.
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