Ukraine sees religious growth surge amid conflict

Religious growth

Ukraine has experienced a surge in religious growth since February 2022.

The number of registered religious organisations has climbed by over 3,000, according to Kyiv’s State Service on Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience.

The increase brings the total number of religious organisations in Ukraine to 36,195.

A key change is the movement of around 1,000 parishes from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

Despite this shift, the Moscow-aligned church retains more religious organisations, with 29% compared to the OCU’s 22%.

However, these statistics account primarily for organisational structures, not individual identification or church attendance.

A 2023 survey by the Razumkov Center reveals that only 5.6% of Ukrainians identify with the Moscow Patriarchate while 42.2% align with the OCU.

Additionally, 11% of Ukrainians identify with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and nearly 40% affiliate with other Christian denominations or none.

This data suggests a decline in the influence of the Moscow church, with its hierarchy maintaining parishes that few attend.

Christian denomination growth

The real religious growth has been in other Christian denominations, particularly Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, reflecting a broader religious diversification in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government has supported the OCU and actively opposed the UOC-MP which has been more vocal in its support for President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine.

This state backing has contributed to the OCU’s growth and the shifting religious landscape in Ukraine.

The Kremlin views the independence of the Kyiv church as a direct threat to its influence.

Moscow is particularly concerned about the spread of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, as these denominations are seen as more antagonistic to Russian interests.

This concern reflects historical fears such as celebrating Prince Alexander Nevsky’s alliance with the Mongol Horde against the Roman Catholic crusades.

Commentators like Vladislav Inozemtsev argue that Putin’s efforts to reassert control are unintentionally causing an ethno-social crisis.

The changing religious identities in Ukraine signify a fundamental shift that could affect Russia’s own religious and state dynamics.


Eurasia Review

CathNews New Zealand

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,