Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is also commonly known as the Ukrainian Catholic Church and was instrumental in Christianity being accepted in the Ukraine in 988.
The church is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and is under the authority of the Pope.
The church was officially recognized in the late 16th century but its roots go back much further.
It is estimated that there are approximately 8 million adherents.
The Primate of the church is the Archbishop Major of Kiev Halych and is in full communion with the Pope.
Within Ukraine itself, the church is a minority faith of the religious population, being a distant second to the majority Eastern Orthodox faith. The Church is the second largest religious organization in Ukraine in terms of number of communities.
In terms of number of faithful, the church ranks third in allegiance among the population of Ukraine, after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate.
Ukrainian Greek Catholics found themselves under the governance of the nations of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia after World War I. Polish (Latin Rite) Roman Catholic priests, led by their Latin bishops, began to undertake missionary work among Greek Catholics, and administrative restrictions were placed on the church.
The aftermath of World War II placed almost all native Ukrainian Catholics under the rule of the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc which, using the positions of only a few ex-UGCC leading clergymen, tried to gain control over the Church.
Soviet documents of 1945 indicates a collaboration between Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Patriarch Alexy I of Moscow to dismantle the Greek Catholic Church in the then recently-annexed western areas of Ukrainian SSR.
By the late 1980s there was a shift in the Soviet government's attitude towards religion. At the height of Mikhail Gorbachev's liberalization reforms, the church emerged from the catacombs to find itself largely in disarray with the nearly all of its pre-1946 parishes and property lost to the Orthodox faith.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the church has regained its religious position.
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