This year for churches was filled with centennial celebrations for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the U.S.A. and Canada, as well as for several individual parishes in the U.S. However, the majority of 2018 news on Churches focused on major events in the process of Ukraine’s Orthodox gaining independence from Russian influence and establishing a unified Church recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
President Petro Poroshenko held a historic meeting on April 17 at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. Mr. Poroshenko met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about the autocephaly process for an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The historic meeting was also meant to show the Ecumenical Patriarchate that there is political approval for such a move, which was supported by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament, with 268 votes cast in favor on April 19, thereby alleviating concerns that such a move would increase tensions in Ukraine. Unification efforts by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) were also a move that promoted unity in the creation of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) priests, bishops and its political advocates from the Opposition Bloc denounced the moves toward unification and the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
There were some positive signs from the Ecumenical Patriarchate on April 22 ahead of a Holy Synod of Bishops that would determine the advancement of the process for granting a Tomos of autocephaly for the creation of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The meeting in May determined that there was sufficient evidence to proceed on granting autocephaly for Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. Representatives of the UOC-MP were invited to be part of the process, but the UOC-MP leaders declined the invitation, claiming that the move was a political stunt to distract from domestic issues. The actions by Ukraine’s Parliament and Mr. Poroshenko, as well as the UOC-KP and the UAOC, were supported by the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine, which includes the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. (UOC-U.S.A.) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC).
President Poroshenko reminded politicians on April 17 about the repressive actions of Russian authorities in Crimea against Ukrainian Orthodox faithful. Human Rights Watch called the actions a “climate of fear and repression.” Ukrainian religious organizations that wish to register in Crimea must recognize Crimea as part of Russia. Incidents were documented in Symferopol, Sevastopol and Perevalne, where UOC-KP property was seized by the Russian authorities.
The Weekly’s editorial of the time noted the political and spiritual nature of declaring Ukraine’s Orthodox Church an independent structure free from Russian control. The editorial recounted the historical developments since Ukraine’s baptism into Christianity in 988 by Byzantine bishops from Constantinople, the subjugation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by Moscow in 1686, the brief years of independence in the 1920s, and the spiritual rebirth since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The move to unite the UOC-KP and the UAOC and the granting of a Tomos of autocephaly by Constantinople would right a historical wrong, the editorial underscored.The Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine issued a statement on April 25 in support of the unification efforts of the UOC-KP and the UAOC. The letter informed readers about President Poroshenko’s meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on April 9, and the process of granting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine a Tomos of autocephaly. The statement supported the unification efforts and expressed hope for a spiritual renewal in Ukraine.
More than 100,000 people marched through the streets of Kyiv on July 28 to mark the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Ukraine by Grand Prince Volodymyr in 988. Leading the procession were President Poroshenko and First Lady Maryna Poroshenko, Patriarch Filaret of the UOC-KP and Metropolitan Makariy of the UAOC. The march was also a demonstration of the popularity of unification efforts of the UOC-KP and the UAOC, as well as the process toward autocephaly for an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
The Ukraine Crisis and Media Center released an analysis of the unification process for Ukraine’s Orthodox and the steps taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to recognize an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The analysis explained the structures of patriarchates and metropolitanates within the hierarchy centered around Constantinople. The tug of war between Moscow and Constantinople has historical roots that date back to 1686 and Moscow’s annexation of the Kyiv Metropolitanate, the UCMC pointed out.
The precedents of Poland and Estonia having been granted autocephaly by Constantinople gave hope for Ukraine, and new laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada have forced the UOC-MP to identify itself with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Tomos of autocephaly, a historic document, will divide Ukraine’s history into “before” and “after.”
Jaroslaw Martyniuk’s analysis on Ukraine’s Churches “by the numbers,” clarified the religious situation in Ukraine and also nullified many arguments of the Russian Orthodox Church about Ukraine. Ukraine’s two leading Orthodox jurisdictions, (the UOC-MP and the UOC-KP), made up 17 percent and 41.4 percent, respectively, of Ukraine’s population. Ukraine’s Catholic Church made up 7.5 percent. The UAOC made up 1.6 percent. Over all, 42 percent of those polled supported Mr. Poroshenko’s efforts toward the creation of a unified and independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. While 31 percent did not support it, more than one-fourth said they had difficulty in deciding whether to support the initiative. Regionally, support was highest in western Ukraine at 56 percent, while 25 percent in the south and 22 percent in the east expressed approval.
More than 100 metropolitans and archbishops assembled at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 1-3 to approve a process for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Optimism was running high following Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s meeting with Moscow Patriarch Kirill on August 31 ahead of the Synaxis of the Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ecumenical patriarch has decided to use all ways possible to resolve the issue of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Metropolitan Emmanuel of France said. Patriarch Bartholomew said the decision to move forward aims to right a historical mistake by his predecessor, Patriarch Dionysios IV in 1686, adding, “…no matter how much some people wish to embellish the situation in Ukraine, history proves them wrong and presents indisputable arguments demonstrating that the origin of difficulties and reactions in Ukraine are neither a recent phenomenon nor something created by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” The statement underscored that Moscow has no right to claim Kyiv or Ukraine as its canonical territory, as Kyiv remained under constant and uninterrupted dependence on the Mother Church of Constantinople. The ultimate goal of the Synaxis, Patriarch Bartholomew said, was to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Following the Synaxis in Istanbul, Archbishop Daniel (UOC-U.S.A.), Bishop Ilarion (UOCC) and Archbishop Emmanuel of France were named as exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine.
The ROC’s reaction to moves by Ukraine and Constantinople was to accuse Patriarch Bartholomew as acting in a “despicable and treacherous way.” Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church sought international solidarity to bolster Russia’s claims to Ukraine as its canonical territory.
Patriarch Filaret (UOC-KP) on September 19 visited Washington, where he spoke at the Atlantic Council about the unification process for Ukraine’s Orthodox Churches. Ukraine’s role in Russia’s dreams of an empire reborn cannot materialize with the creation of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine free from Russia’s influence and that of the ROC. As long as Russia is allowed to influence religious life in Ukraine and to foment divisions among its people, Ukraine will not be a strong nation. However, a Ukraine that asserts its own national identity through an independent and unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine can prevent the expansion of an aggressive Russia, Patriarch Filaret explained. The patriarch remained optimistic on the chances of resolving Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region. During the visit, the patriarch stopped at the Holodomor Memorial and the Embassy of Ukraine, and also visited Chicago and Cleveland.
The ROC threatened that violence could erupt in Ukraine in response to the move by Constantinople to grant a Tomos of autocephaly to Ukraine. It claimed that its faithful would be forced out of properties it claims as its own, that its believers would defend these places and that bloodshed could result.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a decree on October 11, following a three-day Holy Synod in Istanbul, which stated that the process of recognizing an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine would continue. The Synod renewed its “decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.” The Synod also decided to lift anathemas against Patriarch Filaret Denysenko (UOC-KP) and Metropolitan Makariy Maletych (UAOC). “Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church,” the official announcement read. Significantly, the Synod also rejected the 1686 letter that granted the patriarch of Moscow the right to ordain the metropolitan of Kyiv.
In turn, Patriarch Filaret issued a statement on October 11 urging that steps toward independence from Moscow must be carried out carefully to avoid giving the Kremlin a pretext for further Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory. The patriarch insisted that there would be no illegal seizures of church buildings in Ukraine that are currently under the control of the UOC-MP. Patriarch Filaret told RFE/RL: “This is what Moscow wants – raider seizures that create grounds for interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine… Now they want to create conditions [where they can claim their activities are]for the protection of the Orthodox believers. Knowing this, we do not want to give them a reason for interference in our internal affairs, and therefore there will be no forcible seizure of church buildings.”
The ROC announced at its own Synod in Minsk on October 15 that it had severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate following the decision to proceed with granting autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision was such a shock to Russian chauvinism that President Vladimir Putin convened an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Archbishop Yevstratiy Zorya, spokesperson for the UOC-KP, said that Moscow was behaving in a way that it is isolating itself as it has done politically ever since it annexed Crimea in 2014. It was expected that Russia would attempt to interfere or disrupt the election (through acts of provocation that would spark violence) of a new church leader during the scheduled Unification Synod. Archbishop Yevstratiy added that parishes’ shift from UOC-MP to the unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church would likely happen without violence, as has been the case since 2014.
President Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew signed an agreement on November 3 in Istanbul on cooperation and interaction between Kyiv and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The agreement set the conditions for the granting of the Tomos of autocephaly for Ukraine and said it would proceed in strict accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Church. Patriarch Bartholomew underscored his hope that the decision to grant autocephaly would lead to the unification of all Orthodox believers in Ukraine.
Metropolitan Epifaniy was elected as primate of a new united Orthodox Church of Ukraine on December 15 during the Unification Synod in Kyiv that was set to unite Ukraine’s fractured Orthodox faiths (UOC-KP, UOC-MP and UAOC) into one independent Church. Thousands of faithful stood outside St. Sophia Cathedral where 192 delegates made a historic decision to break away from Russian influence. Metropolitan Epifaniy, 39, of Pereyeslav-Khmelnytsky and Bila Tserkva (UOC-KP), now holds the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine – something that hasn’t existed in 332 years – as a leader of a Church free from Moscow’s influence and canonically recognized by Constantinople. Metropolitan Epifaniy was invited to receive the Tomos of Autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul on January 6, 2019, finalizing the process that was begun years ago. On December 16 the new leader of Ukraine’s Orthodox faithful celebrated divine liturgy at St. Michael the Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv, calling for unity in the face of Russian aggression.
A statement of greeting for Metropolitan Epifaniy was received from U.S. State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino, who underscored U.S. support for Ukraine and respects the freedom to worship unhindered by outside interference.
The Weekly’s editorial noted additional statements of acknowledgement and congratulations for the new Orthodox primate, including those from the Vatican, the government of Canada, and major diaspora organizations – the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Ukrainian World Congress.
The reaction in Russia was swift and highly negative. The ROC severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, while appealing to global religious leaders and institutions for solidarity in asserting its right to influence in Ukraine. It was also believed that Russia and, by extension, the ROC, would seize the opportunity to foment provocations and violence in “defense” of religious property in Ukraine.
President Poroshenko’s statement on December 15 was one of joy over the election of a new primate for a united Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He noted the historic significance of the Unification Synod and how political and spiritual independence are intertwined. Now, Ukraine’s priests will have an equally important role in the shaping of the future for Ukrainian citizens, Mr. Poroshenko explained. Moreover, this celebration is not just for Ukraine’s Orthodox, but for all Ukrainians, regardless of their faith. An independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a spiritual guarantor of an independent Ukrainian state, he added, and part of Ukraine’s pro-European strategy.
UOC-U.S.A. and UOC-Canada centennial
The UOC-U.S.A. celebrated its centennial on July 28 with a hierarchical divine liturgy and banquet. The celebration coincided with the feast day of St. Volodymyr, grand prince of Kyivan Rus’, who baptized Ukraine into Christianity in 988. Following a procession from the Ukrainian Cultural Center along Easton Avenue to the outdoor canopied area in front of St. Andrew Memorial Church, a hierarchical divine liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Yurij (UOCC). He was joined by Archbishop Demetrios, ruling hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New York and an official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as hierarchs of the UOCC and clergy of the UOC-U.S.A., as well as bishops of Churches recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Hierarchs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church were also in attendance, as well as Ukraine’s Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and Consul General Oleksii Holubov of New York.
At the banquet reception held at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, greetings were extended by representatives of Ukrainian community organizations and Ukrainian Orthodox lay organizations.
The UOC-U.S.A.’s centennial celebrations were held not only in South Bound Brook, N.J., on July 27-28, but also in Emlenton, Pa., at All Saints Camp on September 1-3, and in Los Angeles on September 22-23. A commemorative book distributed during the celebrations detailed the history of the UOC-U.S.A. and its major milestones.
Archbishop Daniel, reflecting on the future of the Church, on July 29 at St. Andrew Memorial Church stated: “…We must act in faith. We must stand on the promise of Christ that if we are busy going about the duty the Lord has assigned us, just as the disciples were busy getting their boats to the other side of the shoe as Jesus had instructed them, then He Himself will come to us walking on the very waves that threaten to swallow us up. As the Church in the modern world, like Peter’s boat, sails through the stormy seas of our time, we need to keep an eye on those very seas for Jesus who comes to bring deliverance, peace and love…”
The UOCC celebrated its own centennial on August 9-12 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with hierarchical divine liturgies at St. Petro Mohyla Institute, Holy Trinity Cathedral and All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The centennial celebration coincided with an Extraordinary Sobor that attracted more than 150 delegates. The celebrations concluded with a gala banquet and concert.
Parish centennials and conventions
St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pa., celebrated its centennial on September 30 with a hierarchical divine liturgy celebrated by Bishop Andriy Rabiy. A banquet reception followed at Palace Center in Allentown, Pa., where guests learned about the parish’s extensive history, and speakers recalled memories and experiences, extending wishes for many more years of service to the community.
Founded in 1918 with more than 700 members, Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Maplewood, N.J., celebrated its centennial on October 20 with a hierarchical divine liturgy led by Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel followed by a festive banquet at the Maplewood Country Club. Parishioners Lynne and Daniel Gulak, Michael and Daria Komichak, Vsevolod Luckewicz, Zina Minchenko and the late Leonid Charczenko were recognized for their years of service and contributions to sustain the work of the parish community. Commemorative booklets included an extensive history of the church community, its role in the founding of the UOC-U.S.A., and featured greetings from former and current parish priests – the Very Revs. John Nakonachny and Oleh Hucul – as well as politicians, including President Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Church in Palmerton, Pa., celebrated its centennial on October 28. The liturgy was led by Bishop Andriy; two choirs – St. Mary Ukrainian Church Choir of McAdoo, Pa., and the Dzvin male choir from Philadelphia – combined for the responses. A celebratory banquet held at the Blue Shamrock Golf Club was attended by more than 100 people.
Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church addressed the participants of the 136th convention of the Knights of Columbus in Baltimore on August 7. He reminded the gathering of the Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian custody, notably filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who had been sentenced to 20 years for his support of Ukraine during Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. The patriarch also drew attention to the war in eastern Ukraine and the “hybrid war” tactics that Russia uses against Ukraine and the West. Participating in the convention were Bishop Paul Chomnycky, eparch of Stamford, Conn.; Bishop Bohdan Danylo, eparch of Parma, Ohio; Bishop David Motiuk, eparch of Edmonton, Alberta; Bishop Brian Bayda, eparch of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Bishop Andriy, apostolic administrator of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia; Bishop John Bura, auxiliary bishop of the archeparchy; and Archbishop-emeritus Stefan Soroka.
The 73rd annual conference of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention in the U.S.A. on Labor Day weekend in Levittown, Pa., elected a new president – the Rev. Roman Kapran, pastor of the Slavic Baptist Mission Church in Newark, Del. The Rev. Kapran had served as vice-president for domestic missions, and his previous post was filled by the Rev. Viktor Kuzmenko of Ukrainian Baptist Church of Chicago. The convention featured speakers from Lviv and Sacramento, Calif., as well as youth activities and concerts.
The Rev. Kapran sent a letter to pastors in his association calling for prayers during services on October 28 and subsequent Sundays urging members to pray for churches and people undergoing religious persecution in the war zone in southeastern Ukraine. Especially in the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine, the local authorities have refused to register Evangelical Christian church communities, and this ban affects not only worship at the prayer houses, but also gatherings in private homes of believers who are threatened with fines and arrests. The new laws went into effect on October 15. The activities of the UOC-KP have also been restricted, as the authorities do not view the UOC-KP as canonical; only the UOC-MP and the ROC have official approval of the occupation authorities.
Other news developments
St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral on February 11 celebrated the completion of its restoration project that included both exterior and interior work. The celebration included a hierarchical divine liturgy and gala benefit luncheon. Celebrants included Metropolitan Lawrence of Winnipeg and Bishop David of Edmonton, who were joined by former and current priests of the cathedral. Metropolitan Lawrence recounted his childhood days at the cathedral, its role as a focal point for the community and its role as a spiritual home for the Edmonton Eparchy. The church community dates from 1904 and the building underwent some renovation in 1968 and again in the 1980s and 1990s, but the latest renovation work included major structural and architectural improvements meant to last at least another 50 years. The $2 million restoration project came under budget and met its five-year plan.
The Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (UCEF) board on February 17 welcomed Taras Szmagala Jr. as its new board chairman. Mr. Szmagala, who has extensive law and business experience in Ukraine and internationally, replaced Guy Camarata, the board’s previous long-time chairman. During the election meeting, the board recognized former UCEF President John Kurrey and Mr. Camarata for their years of dedicated service to UCEF. The two outgoing board members have been responsible for raising more than $8 million for the Ukrainian Catholic University.
The UOC-MP and its spiritual leaders were under investigation by Ukrainian authorities in April in the lead-up to Easter according to the Julian calendar. The priests and bishops had known ties to pro-Russian elements in the war in the Donbas, including Igor Girkin, a Russian military intelligence officer who had commanded forces in the Donbas against Ukraine. Mr. Girkin and these UOC-MP priests and bishops are accused of obtaining shelter at UOC-MP properties. Ukrainian authorities had opened an investigation into these clergymen of the UOC-MP for their role in the war in the Donbas and Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. The Kyiv Patriarchate spokesman, Archbishop Yevstratiy, said the investigation and similar ones are carefully conducted so as not to exacerbate tensions between Orthodox faithful in Ukraine or to give Russia a pretext to escalate the situation in Ukraine.
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S.A., on April 16. Appointed as interim apostolic administrator until the election of a successor to head the Archeparchy of Philadlephia was Bishop Andriy, who had been appointed as auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia by Pope Francis in 2017. Archbishop Stefan decided to retire for medical reasons and had filed his decision with the Vatican, awaiting its approval by Pope Francis. Archbishop Stefan had served in his role at the Archeparchy of Philadelphia for 17 years, and previously served as a priest and bishop in Canada. A Moleben to the Mother of God was celebrated on June 10 at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia followed by a luncheon to bid the archbishop a happy retirement.
A memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Patriarch Mstyslav (1898-1993) was held on June 2 at Holy Resurrection Mausoleum Crypt of St. Andrew Memorial Church on the grounds of the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. in South Bound Brook, N.J. The service was led by Metropolian Antony and Archbishop Daniel, and included an exhibit at the Ukrainian History and Education Center and a luncheon that featured a memorial presentation on the life of Patriarch Mstyslav.
A divine liturgy was celebrated on June 3 at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia to mark the first anniversary of the death of Patriarch Lubomyr Husar, who died on May 31, 2017. The divine liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop-emeritus Stefan and clergy; the liturgy was followed by a requiem service.
Fourteen people joined the Sisters of St. Basil the Great Basilian Volunteer Program on May 27 through June 15 in Drohobych. Ivano-Frankivsk and Mukachiv, Ukraine. Volunteers from five different states worked with summer youth camps as well as various facilities, including psychiatric institutions and halfway houses. Volunteers commented on the cultural exchange of meeting and learning from the local population, especially building vocabulary and creating long-lasting relationships and memories in Ukraine.
The Napa Institute, a leading organization of American Catholic leaders, highlighted the Ukrainian Catholic Church at its annual conference in Irvine, Calif., on July 12-14. Presentations were made by the Rev. Mark Morozovich, dean of theology at The Catholic University of America, Bishop Borys Gudziak, former rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, as well as two vice-rectors of UCU, Sophia Opatska and Myroslav Marynovych. Presentations focused on the work of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the recent developments since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and the Revolution of Dignity. Since these two major events in the history of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has been on the frontlines of these challenges. The conference was also a great opportunity for Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation representatives to meet religious leaders and university presidents from other Catholic colleges, with hopes of developing new partnerships and student exchange programs between UCU and many of these institutions.
Metropolitan Lawrence, archbishop of Winnipeg, and Bishop David, eparch of Edmonton, presided over the transformation on October 13 of the former Basilian House of Studies in Edmonton to the newly relocated Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary. The building includes a chapel, library and study rooms, a kitchen and dining facilities and rooms for the seminarians and staff. Following divine liturgy, the new premises were blessed by the hierarchs and the Rev. Andrew T. Onuferko.
The Weekly’s editorial of November 11 underscored the need to highlight the plight of religious persecution in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine. The situation in Crimea is more worrisome, as UOC-KP has experienced harassment and restrictions on registering with the local authorities as a religious organization. Archbishop Klyment of Symferopol (UOC-KP) said there could be more severe actions against the UOC-KP in Crimea after the adoption of the Tomos of autocephaly. The U.S. State Department, in its May 29 report, noted Russia’s tactics against minority religious groups, and said local authorities seize property and use them as military facilities. Crimea’s Muslim Tatars have experienced abductions, forced psychiatric hospitalizations, imprisonment and detentions.
St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carteret, N.J., was destroyed by a three-alarm fire on November 27. The 64-year-old church caught on fire around 10:30 p.m. No one was injured as a result of the fire that brought 60-70 firefighters from the area fire companies to battle the blaze. Donations were being collected to rebuild the church.