Which of the leading denominations of the “Kyiv tradition” can claim the status of the “national Church” of Ukraine?


In the current discussions on the prospects of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, it is sometimes necessary to appeal to statistical figures, which makes these discussions more substantive. One possibility is sociological data, in particular from the Razumkov Center, which provides figures based on the opinion polls of the Ukrainian population. In particular, the brochure “State and Church in Ukraine 2019: Results of the Year and Prospects for the Development of Relations” provides data for 2019, according to which 13.2% of respondents consider themselves as belonging to the “OCU-M. Epiphany”, 7.7% to the “UOC-KP”, 10.6% to the “UOC (MP)”, and 30.3% consider themselves as “just Orthodox”. 

A more balanced position is when such figures are taken from a relatively unbiased source ‒ the state statistics. These are the data of the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, which succeeded the State Committee for Religious Affairs, which existed as a subdivision of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. 

In the text of report of Sergii Bortnyk (in Ukrainian) (www.academic-initiative.org.ua/2021/04/09/zvedeni-dani-konfesiy-ukrainy) you can find much more numbers on the confessions. Below you can find only the results of this survey. 

Religious organizations of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) in regions/oblast (in Ukraine as a whole – 5.299): 

less than 10% ‒ Transcarpatia, Luhansk regions (2) 

10-20% ‒ Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Odessa, Poltava, Kharkiv, Kherson, Chernivtsi and Chernihiv regions (8)   

20-30% ‒ Vinnitsa, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Sumy and Khmelnytskyi regions (7)   

30-40% ‒ Kyiv, Lviv, Ternopil and Cherkassy regions, city of Kyiv (5) 

more than 40% ‒ Volyn, Ivano-Frankivsk and Rivne regions (3) 

Religious organizations of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” (UOC) in regions/oblast (in Ukraine as a whole – 11.157): 

less than 10% ‒ Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Ternopil regions (3) 

10-40% ‒ no one 

40-60% ‒ Volyn and Rivne regions (2) 

60-80% ‒ Vinnitsa, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Transcarpatia, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Sumy, Khmelnytskyi, Cherkassy and Chernivtsi regions, the city of Kyiv (14)  

more than 80% ‒ Donetsk, Luhansk, Odessa, Kharkiv, Kherson and Chernihiv regions (6) 

Religious organizations of the Greek-Catholic Churches in regions/oblast  (in Ukraine as a whole – 3.748): 

more than 50% ‒ Ivano-rankivsk, Lviv and Ternopil regions; toghether they make up 82.8% of all Greek Catholic parishes in Ukraine, 

5,5-50% ‒ Zakarpattia region; it makes up 9,5% of all Greek Catholic parishes in Ukraine 

till 5,5%, mostly under 2% ‒ the other twenty oblasts and Kyiv; together they make up 288 religious organizations, i.e. 7.7% of all Greek Catholic parishes in Ukraine 

Two important conclusions logically follow from this analysis. First, the problematic relationships between the state of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is to be renamed as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine”, is a question of the stability of the religious sphere of Ukraine

Second, it becomes clear which denomination can claim the significance of the national Church. It is obvious that today only the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with its relatively extensive coverage of parishes in most regions of Ukraine, can claim this status. At the same time, the Greek Catholic Churches of Ukraine fully claim the status of powerful regional Churches

The data of sociological polls presented at the beginning of this text testify to a significant difference between the confessional self-identification of the citizens and the existing network of religious organizations in Ukraine.