By Kostas Onisenko
Significant are the findings of a survey conducted by the International Institute of Sociology in Kyiv on the views of Ukrainians on the various ecclesiastical authorities in the country.
The survey shows that most Orthodox support the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which has significantly increased its influence compared to last year.
On the contrary, the Russian Church in Ukraine seems to be losing influence and being supported by a small portion of the population.
At the same time, the Ukrainians seem to understand the deregulating role of the Russian Church in Ukraine while at the same time supporting the visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine.
Most Ukrainians (73%) still consider themselves Orthodox Christians, another 9% are Catholics, and 7% atheists.
Among the Orthodox, 58% state belong to the Autocephalous Church (in 2020 it was 48%), while 25% state that they belong to the Moscow Patriarchate (compared to 21.5% in 2020).
The increase in the percentage seems to be due to the decrease of those who until last year declared themselves “mere Christians” without specifying which Church they belong to (12% this year compared to 23 in 2020).
Ukrainians view Metropolitan Epifaniy more positively. In particular, 45% of Ukrainians have a positive view of the past of the Church of Ukraine (from 34% in 2020), 38% – neutral view, and 6% – negative view.
At the same time, 20% view Metropolitan Onufriy – the head of the Russian Church in Ukraine – positively, 39% neutrally and 29% negatively. At the same time, more Ukrainians would like to see Epifaniy presiding over a united Church, in case the Orthodox Church of Ukraine merges with the Russian Church in Ukraine.
More than half of Ukrainians (57%) consider the visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine positive. 32.5% of Ukrainians, according to the survey, are indifferent to the visit while only 6% answered that they consider it negative.
Of course, the supporters of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as well as the Catholics of Ukraine, have a more positive view of the visit.
It is of great interest that almost half (49%) of the supporters of the Moscow Patriarchate stated that they view the visit positively and only 15% of them consider the visit as something negative.
This is in stark contrast to what the leaders of the Russian Church in Ukraine have argued, namely that the Ukrainians do not want the visit to take place. It seems that even their own supporters are in favor of the visit.
Some other questions that were asked to the people who participated in the research are also interesting. Thus, 54% believe that the Ukrainian Church responds better to the modern needs of society compared to 13% who believe the same for the Russian Church in Ukraine.
52.7% believe that the Ukrainian Church contributes to the unity of society compared to 12.7 for the Russian Church in Ukraine. 50.4% believe that the Church of Ukraine helps people compared to 12.7 who consider the same for the Russian Church in Ukraine.
42.5% believe that the Russian Church in Ukraine seeks to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, while for the Church of Ukraine the corresponding figure is 20.6%.