Kyiv metropoly

Image - Ilarion's consecration as metropolitan of Kyiv (an illumination from the Rus' Chronicle).

Kyiv metropoly [Київська митрополія; Kyivska mytropoliia].The central and original church organization on Ukrainian territory. It was established after the Christianization of Ukraine in 988 and the organization of church hierarchy. From the 11th century, the metropoly was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The exact date of the establishment of Kyiv metropoly and the identity of its first hierarchs are unknown. Church tradition has it that the first metropolitan was a Greek named Michael who arrived in Kyiv in 988 and died in 994. Some scholars, however, believe that the first metropolitan was the Greek Leontius or Theopemptos, who was sent to Kyiv by the ecumenical patriarch in 1037.

The metropolitans of Kyiv were, according to the ‘law of the 34 apostles,’ provincial metropolitans, or first hierarchs of an ecclesiastical province composed of a number of eparchies. They were also the titular bishops of Kyiv eparchy. At the time of the Mongol invasion (1240), there were 16 eparchies in the metropoly, of which 10 were on Ukrainian territory. The authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople included the power to (1) appoint and consecrate the metropolitan; (2) change the location of the metropolitan see or subdivide the metropoly; (3) try the metropolitan; (4) arbitrate in the case of disputes over theology or rite and issue patriarchal missives; (5) grant stauropegion; (6) make visitations; and (7) appoint exarchs to the metropoly.

In fact, the metropoly was really only subject to the canonical and spiritual authority of Constantinople. In its internal life and administration it enjoyed considerable autonomy. Yet only 2 of the first 24 metropolitans were of local origin (Metropolitan Ilarion and Klym Smoliatych). Their consecrations resulted from the desire of the Rus’ princes and clergy to establish a native hierarchy. This circumstance has enabled many historians (eg, Dmytro Doroshenko and Nataliia Polonska-Vasylenko) to claim that Kyiv metropoly actually constituted an autocephalous ecclesiastical body.

This independence of Constantinople enabled the church to spread Christianity among the people and serve as an important unifying factor in Kyivan Rus’, which was soon divided into various principalities. As Kyiv declined in political significance in the 12th and early 13th centuries, a struggle for control over the metropoly ensued between the competing principalities. After the destruction of Kyiv by the Mongols, the new metropolitan, Metropolitan Cyril II (1243–81), moved to Vladimir-on-the-Kliazma, which had not been conquered by the Mongols. His successor, the Greek Metropolitan Maximos (1283–1305), formally transferred the metropolitan's residence there in 1299. This led the princes of Galicia-Volhynia to establish a separate Halych metropoly, which existed, with various interruptions, from 1303 until the end of the 14th century.

In the mid-14th century a third metropoly arose that claimed territories under Kyivan jurisdiction, the Lithuanian metropoly. In 1356 the Holy Synod in Constantinople granted the ‘Metropolitan of Lithuania and Volhynia’ jurisdiction over Polatsk and Turiv eparchy, Volodymyr-Volynskyi eparchy, Lutsk eparchy, Kholm eparchy, Halych eparchy, and Peremyshl eparchy, while Aleksei, the metropolitan of Kyiv and all Rus’, with his see in Moscow, retained control over the remaining eparchies of Kyivan Rus’. By the end of the 14th century Metropolitan Cyprian was able to reunite all of the eparchies formerly under the Halych or Lithuanian metropolitan. This unity, however, was shortlived. In 1415 a synod of the bishops of Polatsk, Smolensk, Lutsk, Chernihiv, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Turiv, Peremyshl, and Kholm refused to recognize Cyprian's successor in Moscow as metropolitan and instead elected Gregory Tsamblak metropolitan. Although he was excommunicated by the patriarch, he enjoyed the support of the hierarchs and the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great until his death in 1419. At the time, the Kyivan metropolitan in Moscow, Photius, was again able to reassert control over the Ukrainian and Belarusian eparchies in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The final split in the Kyiv metropoly occurred in 1448 when Prince Vasilii II of Moscow appointed Bishop Iona of Riazan metropolitan of Moscow with jurisdiction over several eparchies formerly under Kyiv. Because this was done without consent of the Patriarch in Constantinople, under the terms of the Church Union of Florence this act was considered schismatic. The Moscow church subsequently declared its autocephaly, which was recognized by Constantinople only in 1589. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Kyiv metropoly was left with eight Ukrainian eparchies (Kyiv eparchy, Chernihiv eparchy, Turiv-Pynsk eparchy, Lutsk eparchy, Volodymyr-Volynskyi eparchy, Kholm eparchy, Peremyshl eparchy, and Lviv eparchy) and two Belarusian eparchies. Lviv eparchy, however, did not have a bishop from the beginning of the 15th century to 1539, because it had been given by the Polish king to the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lviv.

The first metropolitan of Kyiv after the secession of Moscow metropoly was Hryhorii II Bolharyn, who arrived from Rome in 1458. In 1470 he was confirmed metropolitan by Patriarch Dionisios of Constantinople. His successors—Mysail Pstruch (1475–80), Metropolitan Symeon (1481–8), Iona I Hlezna (1489–94), and Metropolitan Makarii I (1495–7)—were all elected by sobors of the Rus’ bishops. The appointment of the bishop of Smolensk, Yosyf I Bolharynovych, as metropolitan by the Lithuanian grand duke Alexander Jagiellończyk in 1498 ushered in a period of secular control over Kyiv metropoly and a period of decline for the Ukrainian Orthodox church. Some hierarchs were even raised to episcopal rank by the Polish king without any ecclesiastical vocation. Spiritual control over church life was progressively assumed by brotherhoods and monasteries, many of which were granted stauropegion by the patriarch. The growing rift between the clergy and faithful and the hierarchy led many bishops to adopt a pro–Roman Catholic orientation, which eventually culminated in their acceptance of the Church Union of Berestia in 1596. Among the bishops who joined the new Uniate church was the Kyivan metropolitan, Mykhailo Rahoza; the Polish king, Sigismund III Vasa, handed over the rights and privileges of the formerly Orthodox metropoly to the Uniate church.

The Orthodox forces in the metropoly, however, did not cease their activities, and the Patriarch of Constantinople continued to appoint exarchs to the metropoly. Under the leadership of the Cossack hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny, the Orthodox hierarchy of Kyiv metropoly was restored in 1620 by Patriarch Theophanes III of Jerusalem. The new metropolitan was Yov Boretsky, and bishops were consecrated for Polatsk (Meletii Smotrytsky), Peremyshl (Isaia Kopynsky), Volodymyr-Volynskyi (Yo. Kurtsevych), Lutsk (Isaakii Boryskovych), and Kholm (P. Ipolytovych). The Polish government did not recognize the restored Orthodox metropoly and its hierarchy, but they continued to function under the protection of the Cossacks. After the death of Sigismund III Vasa, King Władysław IV Vasa issued the ‘Points of reconciliation with the Ruthenian people of Greek faith of 1632’ legalizing the Orthodox Kyiv metropoly and hierarchy headed by Petro Mohyla (1633–47). Under Mohyla and his successors in the 17th century—Sylvestr Kosiv (1647–57), Dionisii Balaban (1657–63), Yosyf Neliubovych-Tukalsky (1663–75), and Antin Vynnytsky—church life throughout the metropoly underwent a spiritual and institutional renaissance, supported by the Cossacks and burghers. An important issue in the uprising led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Cossack-Polish War was the status of the church and Kyiv metropoly. Under the terms of the Treaty of Zboriv (1649) between the Cossacks and the Poles, the Kyivan metropolitan was to be guaranteed a seat in the Polish Sejm.

A major turning point in the history of Kyiv metropoly occurred in 1685–6. The bishop of Lutsk, Hedeon Sviatopolk-Chetvertynsky, who had been elected metropolitan in 1679, at that time severed his ties with Constantinople, and placed himself under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow. The formal subjugation of Kyiv metropoly to Moscow Patriarchate was ratified in an agreement between the Muscovite tsar and Patriarch Dionisius IV of Constantinople (1686). This was supported by Hetman Ivan Samoilovych, and accompanied the growing political domination of the Hetman state by Muscovy following the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 and the Treaty of Andrusovo, which formalized Russian rule over Left-Bank Ukraine. In 1924 Patriarch Gregory VII of Constantinople stated in a Tomos that this transfer of Kyiv metropoly to the Moscow Patriarchate had not been canonical.

During the reign of Tsar Peter I, Kyiv metropoly was abolished. It lost its status as an autonomous church province and became a mere local eparchy of the Russian church under the ultimate jurisdiction (from 1721) of the Holy Synod and headed by an archbishop. The title ‘metropolitan of Kyiv, Halych, and Little Russia’ was restored in 1743, as a result of the efforts of Rafail Zaborovsky, but under Empress Catherine II the words ‘Little Russia’ were dropped from the official title (1770). In the 18th century several Ukrainian-born clerics served as metropolitans, but most of them, eg, Havryil Kremianetsky and Samuil Myslavsky, did nothing to oppose the Russifying policies of the Holy Synod. Throughout the 19th century Russians occupied the post; some of these metropolitans proved to be capable defenders of the church; eg, Evgenii Bolkhovitinov (1822–37), a noted historian of the church in Ukraine, F. Amfiteatrov (1837–57), and A. Moskvin (1860–76). Kyivan metropolitans were permanent members of the Holy Synod throughout this period.

After the Revolution of 1917 and the re-establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox church as the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church (UAOC), the head of the UAOC hierarchy had the title ‘metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine.’ This position was held by two metropolitans: Vasyl Lypkivsky (1921–7) and Mykola Boretsky (1927–30). The liquidation of the UAOC in the early 1930s ended the short revival of Kyiv metropoly. During the Second World War the UAOC was once again revived by the Synod of Bishops of the UAOC in Kyiv on 9–17 May 1942, at which Nykanor Abramovych was elected archbishop of Kyiv and Chyhyryn. The conference of delegates of the UAOC and the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox church, held on 8 October 1942 at the Pochaiv Monastery, confirmed Metropolitan Dionisii Valedinsky as the provisional head of Kyiv metropoly. After the war, however, the metropoly again became an integral part of the Russian Orthodox church, functioning as an exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The statute of the Russian Orthodox church of 1945 makes no mention of the autonomous status of the church in Ukraine, and assigns to the Kyivan metropolitan ex officio membership in the Patriarchal Synod. The metropolitans of Kyiv and Halych and the exarchs of Ukraine were I. Sokolov (1944–64), Y. Leliukhin (1964–6), and Filaret Denysenko (1966–), the last being the first metropolitan of Ukrainian origin in many years. Organizationally, and administratively, the Ukrainian exarchate, which includes 18 eparchies (of which 4 are unoccupied), has jurisdiction over the Kyiv metropoly.

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Ivan Vlasovsky, Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]




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