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The Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Edited By Christine Chaillot

It is common knowledge that the majority of the population of Eastern Europe belong to the Christian Orthodox tradition. But how many people have an adequate knowledge of the past or even of the present of these Orthodox churches? This book aims to present an introduction to this history written for a general audience, both Christian and non-Christian.
After the 1917 revolution in Russia, communism spread to most of the countries of Eastern Europe. By 1953, at the time of Stalin’s death, the division between Eastern and Western Europe seemed absolute. However, the advent of perestroika at the end of the 1980s brought about political changes that have enabled the Orthodox Church to develop once again in Eastern Europe.
The foundation of the European Union in 1993 has had a broader significance for Orthodox communities, who can now participate in the future development of Europe. Some Orthodox Churches already have their representatives at the European Union in Brussels. These include the patriarchates of Constantinople, Russia and Romania, along with the Church of Greece and the Church of Cyprus.
Today, Europe is becoming increasingly religiously diverse, even within Christianity itself. A growing number of Orthodox Christians have come to work and settle in Western Europe. An understanding of the history of the Orthodox communities in Eastern Europe in the twentieth century will contribute, in a spirit of informed dialogue, to the shaping of a new united Europe that is still in the process of expansion.
This book is translated from the French version (published 2009).


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Sophia Senyk - 14 The Orthodox Church in Ukraine in the Twentieth Century 323


Sophia Senyk 14 The Orthodox Church in Ukraine in the Twentieth Century Revolutionary movements outside and inside the church At the beginning of the twentieth century the Orthodox Church in Ukraine was simply part of the Orthodox Church in the Russian Empire; it counted nine eparchies, but they did not form a separate church province. As throughout the empire, so in Ukraine, superficially church life seemed to be thriving. Important centres, like the Kiev Lavra or the Počajiv Lavra with its wonder-working icon, were thronged with pilgrims. Conscientious pastors were aware, however, that grave deficiencies existed behind these outward manifestations of church life and religious sentiments. The mass of the people was poorly educated in matters of reli- gion, and not everyone had faith deep enough to make up for deficiencies of religious instruction. Demagogues, whether monarchists or socialists, sectarians or later nationalists, could thus easily sway the people. Seminaries were thronged with students, but many of them were sons of clergy who had no interest in becoming priests and were there only because for them education in seminaries was free; many of them were radically-minded and were already causing disturbances. There were, to be sure, at the same times signs of vitality in church life. By the beginning of the twentieth century the Kiev Theological Academy had attained high standards of church scholarship. Its profes- sors were aware that church culture should not close in upon itself, but that the times required the church to reach out to...

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