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The Significance of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Independence

Jun 22, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 22, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Granting Of Tomos (Self-Rule)

Bartholomew is a well established and known Greek Orthodox Patriarch; he is a well respected spiritual head worldwide leading a great population of Orthodox Christians globally. Bartholomew made an official recognition of the created independent and unified church of the entire Moscow Patriarchate in Istanbul. Nevertheless, this was one move that was met with a persistent resisting campaign that had existed over a period in the history of Russia (Wawrzonek 14). Bartholomew, therefore, signed a recognized decree which grants autocephaly, as well as independence, to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church which ended the Russian reign and religious control over Ukraine which had lasted for over three hundred and thirty years.


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The official granting of Tomos was marked with a ceremony in Istanbul on the 5th of January. The ceremony made consideration of Orthodox Christianity’s spiritual headquarters. Moreover, the ceremony was with Petro Poroshenko the Ukrainian President’s attendance. The entire spiritual ceremony was fully completed in two days and made a memorable handing over of the ‘Tomos’ decree to the newly recognized Ukrainian church. Bartholomew stated that now the Ukrainians were free to embrace and enjoy as well life with the sacred gift of independence, emancipation together with self-governance. Moreover, this now meant that Ukrainians were now free from any and every external intervention as well as reliance.

Impact of Granting Of Tomos

There has been a raging debate deciding on what impacts and effects Ukraine’s new Orthodox Church will bring about, the discussion revolves around how this change will affect not only the global political landscape but also the religious landscape.

According to Richters from the late 1600s, the entire Orthodox Church within Ukraine has been existing and living under the Russian Orthodox Church and therefore was dependent on the Russian Church rather than having its own independence (24). A great number of the Ukrainians had grown over time to resent the element of implicating Ukraine as Russia’s vassal. Therefore embracing and implementation of the ‘Tomos’ cause a significant rise in deep concerns as to what will then be the next step to the estimated twelve thousand churches located in the Ukraine that were living under the rule of the anciently established Moscow Patriarchate. Not to forget to mention that within recent years, about fifty churches located within the Ukraine that were existing under the Moscow Patriarchate were seized and later transferred forcibly to be under the Kiev Patriarchate (Richters 26).

Secondly, the efforts made by the Ukrainians to attain their own independence raised a great outrage both politically and religiously from the Russian leaders. However, the presence of Ukraine’s President Petro in the officiating ceremony in Istanbul brought forward a great level of elevation and affirmation of the attainment of independence of Ukraine from the Russian control within his long-embattled country. President Petro’s attendance also enhanced a great boost in the then-upcoming elections in March.

Thirdly, the embracement and signing of the ‘Tomos’ decree was another way of making a path for Ukraine to strive towards attaining social harmony. The proclamation of Ukraine’s independence as the Orthodox Church from the Russian influence enhances a strong guarantee of Ukraine’s spiritual freedom. The global recognition of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church brought about a resolution to a key issue that was greatly affecting Ukraine after a large population of the Ukrainians had made the decision and broke off from Moscow, and had thus declared noncanonical (Denysenko 45). Thus, enabling a more unified nation striving towards peace and harmony within the nation.

Fourthly, Chaillot points out that the Ukrainian Orthodox church has been existing under the rule and jurisdiction of Moscow since the year 1686 (52). Therefore, the longstanding relationship that exists between Ukraine and Russia was threatened by the tensions that rose after the passing of the ‘Tomos’ decree. This was particularly intense when about two hundred bishops, as well as other church figures, came together within the Ukrainian capital to choose the future head of the autonomous Ukrainian church. Moreover, this was a critical decision that sealed Ukraine’s intention towards severing the religious ties between both Moscow patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Nevertheless, a great concern arises regarding the schism division of the Russian and Ukrainian churches that has the potential of provoking violent clashes over the church assets in terms of property. Therefore, the Ukrainian Government has taken it as awareness and is advised towards preparation and seeking recommendations of the possibility.


All in all, it is vital to note that studying and understanding old religious disputes matter. The study and research of the history of politics as well as religion have proven that the old religious disputes continue to contribute significantly shaping modern politics in the world today. Therefore, Ukraine is no exception, and therefore the signing and decree of the ‘Tomos’ present a great source of influence on World politics. Particularly because the ‘Tomos’ marked taking out of Ukraine officially from the set ‘Russian World’, thus leaving the Russian political borders.

Works Cited

“Tomos for Ukraine. The Signing Ceremony of Tomos by the Ecumenical Patriarch Right in Istanbul.” Ukraine Interactive Map – Ukraine Latest News on Live Map – Liveuamap.com, 5 Jan. 2019, liveuamap.com/en/2019/5-january-tomos-for-ukraine-the-signing-ceremony-of-tomos.

Chaillot, Christine. The Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Lang, Peter, AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2012.Print.

Denysenko, Nicholas E. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation. , 2018. Print.

Richters, Katja. The Post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church: Politics, Culture, and Greater Russia. , 2014. Print.

Wawrzonek, Michal. Religion and Politics in Ukraine: The Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches as Elements of Ukraine’s Political System. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.Print.

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