Πέμπτη, 27 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

CYRIL HOVORUN REVIEW OF NICKOLAS DENISSENKO: THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN UKRAINE


The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation by Nicholas E. Denysenko (review)
Cyril Hovorun
Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies
Johns Hopkins University Press
Volume 1, Number 2, 2018

pp. 225-227




Reviewed by:
Cyril Hovorun
Nicholas E. Denysenko. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation. (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2018. 316 pp.
It is hardly possible to imagine a better time for this book to be published. It is debuting when a new window of possibilities for the Ukrainian autocephaly has opened. Several factors contributed to this opening window, including the Russian aggression against Ukraine that began in 2014 and continues to exploit religion, and the decisiveness of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian church. This time the window of possibilities for Ukrainian autocephaly is wider than any time before.

Nicholas Denysenko here explores earlier historical opportunities and failures of the Ukrainian Orthodox, in their homeland and abroad, to gain a recognized independent status for their church. His book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the nature of the Ukrainian ecclesial and national quest. Although the book is focused on ecclesial issues, it expounds a wider array of topics, including the political and cultural history of the Ukrainian people within and outside Ukraine.

It is quite obvious that the author writes from the perspective of his own background: a Ukrainian Orthodox who grew up in the United States and who is a liturgical scholar. The book concurs with the reading of history pertinent to the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the United States and contains a lot of references to liturgical materials that illustrate Denysenko's historical points. At the same time, the book is an attempt to adopt a broader outlook at events. This outlook quite often appears to be critical of the orthodoxies devotedly venerated by many Ukrainians in diaspora.

The book, on the one hand, systematizes the well-established wisdom published in the studies by Bohdan Bociurkiw, Ilarion Ohienko, Serhii Plokhy, Iryna Prelovs'ka, Sophia Senyk, Frank Sysyn, Oleh Turii, Vasyl Ul'ianovs'kyi, Ivan Vlasovs'kyi, Roman Yereniuk, and others. On the other hand, it contains previously unpublished materials, mostly from the archives of Tymofii Minenko and Yaroslaw Lozowchuk. The author weaves these materials into a smooth narrative that is both enlightening and entertaining.

The book is structured around the windows of possibilities that opened to the Ukrainian Orthodoxy in its struggle for independence. The first window opened with the collapse of the Russian empire and the foundation of the independent Ukrainian state in 1917. At that time, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) was established as independent from Moscow (at its founding council in 1921). Paradoxically, this window remained open for this church even after the independent Ukraine ceased to exist and was taken over by the Soviet state. It was shut down, however, when the atheist Communist regime launched persecutions against this church, and was eventually dissolved in 1930.

However, a new window of possibilities immediately opened for Orthodox Ukrainians in Canada and the United States. The author explains in all details these opportunities for the Ukrainian church in exile. The church missed some of these opportunities and remained divided over the issues of independence (autocephaly) and legitimacy [End Page 225] (canonicity) in its relationship with the rest of the Orthodox world.

World War II gave the Orthodox church a new opportunity on the territory of Ukraine, which was liberated from the Soviets and occupied again by Nazis. The author masterfully deals with the difficult issues caused by the struggle of the Ukrainians for their freedom. He argues that although the Ukrainian hierarchs initially embraced the Nazis' crusade against the Soviets, they soon realized the danger stemming from the new occupation and turned against the Nazis.

They remained divided among them-selves—a feature that seems to be endemic to the Ukrainian Orthodox. This time the division was between the followers of autonomy in connection with Moscow and autocephaly, which had been granted to the Church of Poland by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1924. Denysenko gives a detailed account of the restoration of an independent Ukrainian hierarchy with the assistance of the Polish Orthodox church in 1942. The.