Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church

A religious movement blending Orthodox and Catholic traditions, primarily among Ukrainian emigrants.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Eastern Independent Catholic
Founded: 2009
Location: Ukraine

The Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church (UOGCC) is an independent sect of Eastern Catholicism, unregistered and not officially recognized within Ukraine either by the religious community or state authorities. It was established in 2009 by a group of Basilian priests, primarily from Slovakia, who separated from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, basing themselves in Pidhirtsi, Ukraine. The founders of this movement were motivated by a desire to address what they saw as heretical practices and beliefs infiltrating the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, leading to their controversial self-consecration as bishops.

The UOGCC claims to adhere to Eastern Catholic orientations but has also been marked by a Conclavist approach, particularly notable in their 2019 election of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, as Pope, although there is no evidence that Viganò accepted this election. This election marked a shift from their previous sedevacantist stance, which held that the papal seat was vacant due to the perceived heresies of the post-Vatican II popes.

The church uses Church Slavonic and Ukrainian in its liturgy, which follows the Byzantine Rite, and identifies Patriarch Elijah Anthony Dohnal as its leading figure. Its self-declaration in 2009 as the successor to the “heretical” Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and its subsequent actions, including the excommunication of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, have led to significant ecclesiastical censure. The Catholic Church has officially excommunicated the organization and declared its bishops’ consecrations invalid.

Controversies surrounding the UOGCC extend beyond its ecclesiastical status. It has been described as having anti-European Union and anti-Ukrainian stances, as well as being pro-Yanukovych and pro-Russian. The group is particularly noted for its fervent opposition to homosexuality, often accusing its opponents of promoting it. Allegations of Russian collaboration have been made, particularly focusing on Patriarch Elijah’s background, with accusations of him being a Soviet informer during the Communist era in Czechoslovakia. These controversies, coupled with the church’s unorthodox practices and positions, have led to its marginalization and criticism within both the religious and secular spheres in Ukraine​​​​.

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