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Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Ukranian Orthodox Church (UOC) is that body of Christians from the Ukraine who are united under the Patriarch of Moscow, who in turn is in communion with the other patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In this way Ukranianian Orthodox Church believers are in communion with all other Eastern Orthodox believers.

Distinguishing between church bodies

Not all Ukranian Orthodox Christians belong to the UOC. In 1921 a Sobor of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) in Kyiv ordained Metropolitan Wasyl Lupkivskyj as head of the UAOC. Autocephaly is the self-governing status of a particular national church that is recognized by other Orthodox jurisdictions. In wake of the break up of the Russian Empire some national groups also sought autonomy (Autonomous Orthodox church bodies are not the same as Autocephalic church bodies) from Moscow and an Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church was also founded around this time. The Soviet government persecuted these churches. The Russian Orthodox Church also prevented the UAOC from establishing their ecclesiastical order for some time. Between the wars these national churches were tolerated to some extent by the ROC; as the UAOC had entered into communion with Constantinople the Moscow Patriarchate was grudgingly obliged to acknowledge communion with the new Ukranian autocephalic church.

On October 8, 1942 Archbishop Nikanor and Bishop Mstyslav (now Patriach) of the UAOC and Metropolitan Oleksiy (Hromadsky) of the Ukranian Autonomous Orthodox Church concluded an Act of Union uniting the two nationalist churches at the Pochaev Lavra (monastery). Nazi occupation authorities and pro-Russian hierarchs of the Autonomous Church forced Metropolitan Oleksiy to remove his signature. Metropolitan Oleksiy was executed in Volynia on May 7, 1943.

The Russian Orthodox Church regained its general monopoly after World War II in the Ukranian SSR. Most of the other churches were forced out as the Soviet government only recognized the Moscow Patriarchate, revived at the time of the Russian Revolution, as the only legitimate church in most of the Soviet Union. Many accused it of being a puppet of the Communist Party. After the suspicious death of Tikhon of Moscow these autocephalic churches sought to remain independent; something that Moscow tolerated until after World War Two when many Ukranian Orthodox clergy not affiliated with Moscow fled to Germany or the United States. The UAOC and its church property in Ukraine was then liquidated by the Soviets with the assistance of the Patriarchate of Moscow that could legitimately lay claim to any Orthodox church property that was within territories where its jurisdiction was uncontested. Any UAOC hierarchs or clergy who remained in Ukraine and refused to join the Russian Church were executed or sent to concentration camps. In the next several years, similar actions were taken against the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Western Ukraine and Transcarpathia.