Church hierarchy

Church hierarchy. The higher orders of the clergy (bishop, archbishop, metropolitan, patriarch) and the highest level of church authority. In Ukraine the hierarchy has played a distinct and often crucial role in civic and national life.

The Ukrainian church since its establishment has been headed by a hierarch with the title of metropolitan, initially confirmed by and under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The metropolitan’s see was Kyiv (see Kyiv metropoly), although it was at times located in other cities of Kyivan Rus’. The early metropolitans were Greeks; in the 250 years before the Mongol invasion, only 2 of the 20 metropolitans were of local origin. The first bishops were also mostly Greeks, but they were gradually replaced by local people.

In Kyivan Rus’ hierarchs were generally recruited from among the monks of the Kyivan Cave Monastery. In the 15th and 16th centuries the practice developed of appointing hierarchs from among the elite of Ukrainian society—the nobility. The method of appointment differed at various times. At first new bishops were elected by a council of bishops and then confirmed by the prince; later they were often nominated by the prince or other lay authorities—in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the king and in the Hetman state the hetman—or by church synods involving the participation of laymen. The Ukrainian hierarchy enjoyed great autonomy and its dependence on the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was limited. In recent times, most Ukrainian Orthodox churches have become autocephalous or completely independent.

With the Mongol invasion in the mid-13th century, Kyiv lost its importance as a religious center when the hierarchy fled to the west and north of Kyiv metropoly. The Rus’ church disintegrated into three separate provinces—the Galician (see Halych metropoly), Lithuanian (see Lithuanian metropoly), and Muscovite—each headed by a metropolitan. When the Moscovite church broke away from Kyiv in the 15th century, the Ukrainian hierarchy became most closely identified with the western provinces. In these territories, however, a division occurred in the hierarchy when in 1595–6 part of the Orthodox hierarchy, with the Kyivan metropolitan, Mykhailo Rahoza, entered into the Church Union of Berestia with Rome. Since that time, the two Ukrainian churches, the Ukrainian Orthodox church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, have each had their own hierarchies, with their own distinct histories.

With the defection of most bishops to the newly created Uniate church, the Orthodox hierarchy found itself in a minority. In 1620, however, the patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophanes III, consecrated a new metropolitan and several new bishops for Ukraine. This event occurred against the wishes of the Polish authorities but was supported by the Zaporozhian Host. The succeeding several decades were marked by a remarkable revival of Orthodox Ukrainian religious and cultural life, led by the dynamic new hierarchy, particularly Metropolitan Petro Mohyla. Toward the end of the 17th century, however, after the subjugation of the Kyiv metropoly to the Moscow patriarch (1686), the Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchy lost its independence, and in the 19th century it essentially merged with the Russian hierarchy. From 1721 Orthodox bishops in Ukraine were nominated exclusively by the Russian Holy Synod.

With the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20) and the renaissance of the Ukrainian state, the need arose for a separate Ukrainian hierarchy. When the Russian hierarchs refused to consecrate Ukrainian candidates as bishops, the Ukrainian hierarchy was renewed in 1921 by a non-traditional rite of consecration that was not recognized by all the faithful or other churches. This hierarchy of the newly established Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church fell prey to the national-religious policy of the USSR and was physically liquidated beginning in 1929. On the eve of the Second World War there was not a single Ukrainian bishop left in the Ukrainian SSR. It was only in 1942 that a new hierarchy was consecrated for central Ukraine by bishops from Western Ukraine (Volhynia, Polisia, and the Kholm region), which had not been under Soviet rule. Until 1989, this hierarchy continued to exist only outside the USSR, since the church in Ukraine was again under the jurisdiction of the Russian church. In the West the Ukrainian Orthodox church is not united under a single hierarchy, but, in addition to some smaller jurisdictions, consists of three metropolies, two of which were headed (in 1986) by Mstyslav Skrypnyk (in the United States, Europe, South America, Australia, and New Zealand) and one by Wasyl Fedak (in Canada and Australia). Each metropoly has its own hierarchy.

The hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic church was created after the Church Union of Berestia in 1595–6. After a period of rapid growth in the 17th and 18th centuries a decline began after the Russian acquisition of Right-Bank Ukraine, the major center of Ukrainian Catholicism, in the partitions of Poland. With the intention of destroying the Uniate church, the Russian army and bureaucracy persecuted the Catholic hierarchy, especially in the period 1773–96. Nevertheless, in 1825 the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy still consisted of a metropolitan and five bishops. It was only after Metropolitan Yosafat Ihnatii Bulhak died that the abolition of the Church Union of Berestia was proclaimed (1839) and the Uniate hierarchy was dissolved. Attempts to maintain the hierarchy in the western reaches of Russian-ruled Ukraine, in the Kholm region and Podlachia, were also unsuccessful, and in 1875 the Uniate church and its hierarchy were abolished there as well. The hierarchy continued to exist only beyond the borders of the Russian Empire, in Transcarpathia and Galicia, where, in 1806, the Halych metropoly was re-established under Antin Anhelovych. After the Second World War the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic church was arrested and almost completely destroyed. From then on only secretly consecrated Uniate hierarchs (in 1986 they numbered five to seven) could continue some activity in the Ukrainian SSR, mostly underground. Until 1989 the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy existed openly only outside the borders of the USSR. Until 1984 it was headed by the Halych metropolitan Yosyf Slipy, who was succeeded by Myroslav Liubachivsky; it consisted of bishops and exarchs in the various countries in which Ukrainian emigrants have settled, as well as metropolitans who head the church provinces in Canada and the United States.

(See also History of the Ukrainian church; Structures of the churches of Ukraine; Ukrainian Orthodox church; Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA; Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America; Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church; Greek Catholic Church; and Ukrainian Catholic Church.)

Levitskii, O. ‘Iuzhnorusskie arkhierei v XV–XVII v.,’ KS, 1882, no. 2
Luzhnyts'kyi, H. Ukraïns'ka Tserkva mizh Skhodom i Zakhodom (Philadelphia 1954)
Vlasovs'kyi, I. Narys istoriï Ukraïns'koï Pravoslavnoï Tserkvy, 4 vols (South Bound Brook, NJ 1955–66)
Nazarko, I. Kyïvs'ki i halyts'ki mytropolyty: Biohrafichni narysy (1590–1960) (Toronto 1962)
Blažejowskyj, D. Byzantine Kyivan Rite Metropolitanates, Eparchies and Exarchates: Nomenclature and Statistics (Rome 1980)

Ivan Korovytsky

[This article was updated in 1993.]

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