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Ukraine and Orthodoxy

Walter Russell Mead gets some facts badly wrong here:

That makes the position of the Ukrainian Orthodox both interesting and important. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church doesn’t appear to be longing for a closer relationship with Moscow. This drastically undercuts the potential strength of pro-Russian forces in the east and substantially enhances the chances that, in the end, Ukraine will look west.

The error here is that Mead assumes that one of the three Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine represents all of the Orthodox in the country. The Kyivan Patriarchate is in a schism with the Moscow Patriarchate and as such its position in the current upheaval is not surprising. It may still be important for other reasons, but it is not because it tells us anything about the strength of “pro-Russian forces.” The Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is in communion with Moscow accounts for a large percentage of Orthodox Christians in the country, and so to the extent that religious divisions line up with political ones there is reason to assume that the Kyivan Patriarchate’s support for the protests would make those in communion with Moscow even less likely to sympathize with the protesters.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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