Orthodox Church of Ukraine creeps more towards Western churches


Eastern Europe


Eucumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (third from the left) at the EPP Working Group Intercultural and Religious Dialogue meeting in Vilnius. Photo Government of Lithuania & Seimas

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is moving closer to the Christian community in the West. Recently, it applied for membership to the Conference of European Churches (KEK). The board has now approved this request.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) is the youngest of the two Orthodox Churches in the country. The other one, its mother church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), is still affiliation to the Moscow Patriarchate on paper. Therefore, it is under continual accusation of being used by the Russian invader.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine distanced itself even more from the UOC by applying for membership in the Conference of European Churches, Kristeligt Dagblad reports.


In the meantime, the board of the Conference of European Churches has already approved the application of the Orthodox Church. That means that the other member churches of KEK now have six months to show opposition. Unless a quarter of the 114 members oppose the membership of the OCU in that period, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine can join.

The Danish Secretary-General from the KEK, Jørgen Skov Sørensen, says that he does not remember a time in which members blocked the membership of a new member. However, he points out that membership of the OCU may be a sensitive issue. “Not all Orthodox Churches recognise the legitimacy of the independent, autocephalous church, and for them, admission will not be without question. But the board unanimously decided to approve the application. That shows that the Orthodox board members also agreed.”

Skov Sørensen sees this move as a political signal. According to him, the OCU wants to show that it belongs to Europe. “It is the same political signal that the government of Ukraine sends out with its desire to join the EU”, he says to Kristeligt Dagblad. “The westward orientation is not new, but it has been accelerated because of the war in Ukraine.”


The mother church of the OCU, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, is not a member of the KEK nor involved in the application. Even though it has done everything to show its opposition to the Russian invasion, it is still under the suspicion of being a tool of the occupiers.

According to Kristeligt Dagblad, the move of the OCU can, therefore, also be seen as a distancing from its mother church to show that it clearly does not belong to the Russian Patriarchate.



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