The Orthodox Church of Ukraine at the intersection of social narratives: conflict of interpretations


  • Yuriі Boreiko Східноєвропейський національний університет імені Лесі Українки



Orthodox Church of Ukraine, autocephaly, social narrative, interpretation, believer, society, subject, event, transformation


The article explores the semantic potential of social narratives associated with the creation and constitution of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which caused a interpretations conflict, marked by conflicting interpretations and differences in meanings that are applied in different contexts. The narrative arranges events in a certain time sequence, accumulates and translates meanings, individual and social experience. The presence of meanings in the interpretation of the narrative depends on the perspective, interpretation horizons and the subject's ability to analyze information and its correct application. The social narrative accumulates a set of stories and messages that are fragmentary and disordered, constructs a coherent plot aimed at finding and defining meanings, and forming social discourse. Social narratives materialized in social structures, orientations, expectations, and stereotypes of their bearers due to everyday modification in the form of simple images, attitudes, and principles. Since each social narrative claims to be exclusive and correct in its own way of understanding events, a clash of narratives and their interpretations is inevitable. A large-scale event determines the modification of social structures, standards, and evaluation criteria, is accompanied by the transformation of everyday life, reveals deep mental layers, and opens up new perspectives. The extraordinary event that was marked by the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is accompanied by diametrically opposite assessments from the clergy, believers, politicians, experts – from the statement about autocephaly as the only opportunity to achieve unity and recognition of Ukrainian Orthodoxy to the political subtext justification of the new religious organization creation. Church circles represented by representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate claim that the state interferes in the internal Affairs of the Church. The Constitution of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine takes place in the context of the confrontation of two social narratives – the «ukrainian world» and the «russian world». The social narrative «ukrainian world» is based on values rooted in the national soil, but the social narrative «russian world» denies the existence of the Ukrainian nation and the Ukrainian state. Under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church, the expression of the ideas of the «russian world» is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which enshrines in the minds of believers ideologies about «the common origin of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples», «the common baptismal font», «the unity of the historical space of Holy Rus», «the identity of the East Slavic Orthodox civilization». The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate did not support the decision of patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Metropolitan Onufriy did not give his blessing to the hierarchs to participate in the Unification Council, which is called «a non-canonical assembly of schismatic groups». The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, according to its primate, has de facto autocephaly, so it is the only canonical local Orthodox Church in Ukraine. In the face of the conflict of public narratives, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, along with meeting the spiritual needs of believers, contributes to the formation of national identity, the formation of a worldview matrix that will determine the vision of the future development of the country.


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