Patronage (патронат; patronat). The right or practice that allows the founder (ktytor) or overseer of a church, monastery, or other religious institution to nominate a clergyman to fill a vacant position. In the Byzantine church it included the right of the founder to use church property, and this form of patronage was adopted by the early Ukrainian church. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, patronage developed parallel to changes in the Roman Catholic church and became, under Casimir IV Jagiellończyk, a system for passing on ‘church wealth.’ Magnates and civil officials began interfering in the spiritual as well as the legal and administrative affairs of churches and monasteries. The appointment of Yosyf I Bolharynovych as metropolitan of Kyiv (see Kyiv metropoly) by Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellończyk in 1498 was a particularly blatant example of patronage. Subsequently Polish kings reserved the right to appoint metropolitans, bishops, archimandrites, and other church officials in crown territories; magnates and landowners had the same right on their own estates. The practice often led to abuses, as individuals not suited to the vocation were appointed to prominent positions, and members of the aristocracy monopolized almost all the higher positions in the church. Magnates in some areas (eg, Peremyshl) even forbade the appointment of anyone from outside their voivodeship or territory. The various forms of patronage were of some benefit to the church as long as the patrons were of ‘Rus’ faith,’ but with the Polonization of much of the aristocracy and their conversion to Roman Catholicism or Protestantism, their activities frequently came into conflict with the interests of the Ukrainian Orthodox church or Uniate church and the people. Throughout the 16th century, patronage degenerated to the point that it was involved in the virtual sale of bishoprics and other important posts, the acquisition of church estates and churches themselves by the aristocracy, the purchase of priesthoods and churches for various priestly families, and the trade and leasing of shrines and cemeteries. The church struggled against the abuse of patronage through various decrees issued at synods and through edicts issued by kings, but these measures (particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries) proved to be in vain. The Vatican protested against the abuses in the Catholic church, and the Orthodox church in Right-Bank Ukraine appointed tytari (sextons) who oversaw the use of church property (but only in free communities). Under Catherine II all church property in the Russian Empire was confiscated, and the clergy was considered to be in the state service. In the Austrian Empire, Joseph II nationalized the monasteries in 1782 and transformed the clergy into state employees, paid out of the religious fund (see Religious funds). Patronage was limited to the appointment of parish priests from a list approved by the church administration, and to the conferring of places of honor at services. In more recent times the right of patronage has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.

Isydor Patrylo

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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