Over a third of Ukrainians support the one Local Church, about a half undecided
Ukrainian Sociology Service company and the Institute of Sociology of NAS of Ukraine issued a survey about the establishment of the unified Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Religion in Ukraine reports.
Over a third (35.7%) of Ukrainians believe that the country needs a unified local Orthodox church, the establishment of which shall rest with the faithful and clergy, without the intervention of the authorities and politicians, 18.7% disagree, 45.6% are undecided with the position on this issue.
21.3% of respondents believe that Ukraine needs the unified local Orthodox church and the government must do everything to set it up in the near future, 31% disagree with this statement, 47.8% are undecided with the position on this issue.
According to the survey carried out by the Institute of Sociology, the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) are mainly against the association. By contrast, the faithful of the Kyiv Patriarchate support voluntary association without interference of politicians (43%) or the establishment of the unified Orthodox Church with the government’s assistance.
21.7% of respondents believe that Ukraine already has a canonical Orthodox Church – the UOC (Ukrainian Orthodox Church) (as part of the Moscow Patriarchate - Ed.) so one should not pay attention to the words of “schismatics and heretics” about the association, 27 3% do not agree with this position, 51.1% are undecided.
32% of respondents agree with the statement that Ukraine does not need the unified local Orthodox church because it will limit the right of citizens to choose the church (denomination), 24% disagree, 44% are undecided.
Thus, 61% of Ukrainian believe that the Church must be legally and practically separated from the state, and the government should not interfere in its affairs, 11.3% disagree, 27.8% are undecided.
“The problem of establishment of the unified Orthodox Church is not relevant in the discourse of the citizens of Ukraine, as 45-50% of all citizens find it difficult to answer regarding all variants of solution of this issue, i.e. they are undecided. This means that the problem is not at the heart of debate and discourse in Ukraine,” Alexander Vyshnyak, the head of Ukrainian sociology service and the head of the Institute of sociology, said at a press conference in Kyiv on Wednesday.
According to the survey, only 13.7% of respondents agree that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) should be legally prohibited as the church that maintains canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, 40.2% disagree, 46.2% are undecided with the position on this issue.
Only 13.2% of respondents believe that the government should facilitate the transition of church communities of the UOC (MP) to the other Orthodox Churches (UOC KP, UAOC), 35.4% disagree, 51.5% are undecided.
The survey was conducted on September 3 through 17, 2016. 2001 respondents in all regions of Ukraine, including in occupied Crimea, Sevastopol, and in some areas of Donbas beyond the Ukrainian government’s control, were interviewed under the national stratified quota sampling. The maximum sampling error does not exceed 2.2% with a probability of 0.95.
Instead, in the survey carried out by the Razumkov Centre, much fewer respondents failed to choose the view on church unification, this group was only 15%.
As Andriy Yurash, the Director of Religious Affairs and Nationalities Ministry of Culture said to REFL, this question should be asked to religious people and first of all to Orthodox believers. According to him, one should not expect that 100% Ukrainian will worry about unification of Orthodox Churches. Instead, the amount of supporters among the faithful is twice the number of opponents and doubters,” said Yurash.
“In statistical sociologists, we must take into account certain social trends, civic activity, initiating movements, coverage of this position in the media,” the ministry spokesman has said. “No one doubts that society in a diversity of ways – as well as Parliament, and the media - shows that there is an objective demand to a systematic and successful completion of this work.”
The member of the initiative group for the unified church, Yaroslava Mishchenko, said in the comments to Radio Liberty that asking the above questions in opinion polls is simplification. In her opinion, people do not realize what they are asked about. As the activist notes, church elites, high-profile officials and pro-Ukrainian representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) realize that the consolidated Ukrainian nation must receive communion in one Church.
“Active faithful and intellectuals realize that it is time to unite and move forward. But the ignorant part of the congregation does not know what is better. An old woman in the rural church tends to think what their priest said,” Mishchenko believes.