Religious Mass Media in Ukraine

26.05.2001, 12:35

Throughout Ukrainian history religious traditions and culture have always played an important role. But because of many years of the atheistic Communist regime, there has been a significant separation between society and the older religious and social institutions. The process of religious and spiritual revival, nevertheless, was beginning even before Ukrainian independence was announced in 1991. But this revival also brought with it painful conflicts between religious confessions. During the last decade religious life in Ukraine has gone through some radical changes and the religious mass media has played its role in this. Generally this has been in the form of newspapers and magazines.

In the year 2000 there were over 150 printed religious publications, either published by particular religious denominations or without specific denominational allegiance. These are publications officially registered with the government or with a more or less mass audience (a circulation of a few hundred to a few thousand). There are also an undetermined number of minor publications, generally parish newspapers, which may have a circulation of a few dozen to a few hundred and are limited to one parish.


The denomination with the most publications is certainly the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP).

These are the traditional eparchial publications:

Orthodox Gazette (the main publication), Orthodox Volyn, Voice of Orthodoxy, Bells of Volyn, Orthodox Donbas, Orthodox Annual, Podilia Eparchial News, Orthodox Zhytomyr. Orthodox Tavria, Orthodox Polissia, Light of Orthodoxy, Holy Rus, Save Our Souls!, Justice, Trinity Messenger, Kharkhiv Eparchial News, Christian Family

There are also a number of special-audience publications:

Faith and Culture, On Guard (for the military), newspapers and magazines for children and young people, publications of parishes and charitable organizations, Bulletin of the Yevpatoria Philanthrope, Orthodox Good News of Uman

In general these are monthly or bi-monthly.

The majority of these publications are in Ukrainian and Russian or only in Russian, and none are published only in Ukrainian.

They contain catechetical materials, moral teaching, news, official documents and pastoral letters. Less often they cover social or political themes. However, some of them, in particular Justice and Holy Rus, are politicized and support a "Great Russian" ideology. The UOC-MP does not have any journals of a serious analytical character, but these kind of Orthodox publications are available from Russia. It is easy to find them in church bookstands or to subscribe to them. Many publications are delivered through e-mail but only a few have their own websites; few of them are available through subscription. Often they come out late and the circulation is limited (a few thousand).

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The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) has 8 publications. There are two main publications:

The newspaper Voice of Orthodoxy and Informational Bulletin of the UOC-KP. These have official materials and articles critical of other confessions, especially the UOC-MP. They also contain articles with a social orientation. The Informational Bulletin has official items, information about the activities of Patriarch Filaret, the head of the UOC-KP, and a digest of articles from other publications.

The Kolomyia eparchy publishes an interesting gazette, The Grape Vine, with much material about the life of other denominations and articles by Orthodox and Catholic authors. Voice of Orthodoxy has a subscription service, comes out twice a month and has an Internet presence. Other publications come out monthly or every two or three months. All the newspapers and journals are published only in Ukrainian, with the exception of Informational Bulletin, which occasionally has Russian articles re-printed from other publications.

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The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) has few newspapers and magazines. The oldest publications are Our Faith (Kyiv) and Dormition Tower (Lviv.) The first is edited by a well-known civil activitist, Yevhen Sverstiuk, and is one of the most intellectual journals in Ukraine; it has many materials regarding culture and social issues, news in the life of the UAOC and other Churches. Dormition Tower has similar contents; it is an organ of the Lviv's Stauropegion Brotherhood of St. Andrew the First Called.

Among other publications there are the Ternopil eparchy's Orthodox Ukraine and the Zolochiv Deanery's Orthodox Halychyna: they inform about eparchial life and have catechism and moral instruction. The UAOC has a presence on the Internet: the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Kharkiv eparchy have their own web-sites. They also send out electronic news bulletins which are spread by other mass media and religious institutions.

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The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGGC), like the UOC-MP, also has a number of mass media publications.

Each eparchy has its own publication (The Goal, New Star, Divine Sower, Source of Life, Living Water, Christian Messenger, Good News Messenger). These are monthlies, with the exception of New Star, which comes out weekly and is available for subscription all over Ukraine. There are also many parochial publications, which often come out irregularly, with a circulation from a few hundred to a few thousand and rarely go outside the parish boundaries.

The UGGC has perhaps the greatest number of youth publications. For general Ukrainian consumption there is the newspaper I Believe, the only youth gazette in Ukraine with such quality and character: bi-weekly, interesting articles on social and political themes and also theological and moral items, news about the life of the Church and about its publisher, the youth organization, Ukrainian Youth for Christ.

The Commissions for Youth Affairs of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk have their own publications: Temple and Light of Truth. A number of youth organizations and seminarians also have their own publications: Our Newspaper, The Wide Horizon, Hope of the Church, Solidarity.

The Order of St. Basil the Great publishes a newspaper for its parishes, The Belltower, generally with catechism, instruction, social and historical articles. The Basilians also publish the magazine, Missionary (a catechetical and theological monthly) and Light (a joint publication in cooperation with Ukrainians in the diaspora) and a bi-monthly almanac of scholarship and culture, Kyivan Church (with articles at a high scholarly level about Church history, Ukrainian culture and theology).

The newspaper Ark is a bi-weekly newspaper on religious and social themes which has its own website.

The majority of these Greek Catholic publications do not have a wide circulation: the maximum is about 4,000 copies. The Agency of Religious Information (ARI) publishes the Monthly ARI Bulletin, with news about religious life in Ukraine and the world, especially about the Catholic Church.

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The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in Ukraine has a smaller number of publications. The general publication Parish Gazette comes out twice a month and is circulated in the dioceses of the RCC; it recounts the life of the Church and gives news of the Catholic Church. The monthly Preacher is a catechetical and formational supplement to the Parish Gazette. Each diocese has its own publication. Kairos, the Dominican publishing house, also publishes the Bulletin of Religious Information, a digest of articles on religious and social themes from the Ukrainian mass media.

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The publications of the Protestant Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine, especially Charismatic communities and religious organizations, have the greatest circulation. Compared to Orthodox and Catholic publications, Protestant publications have almost no articles on social or political themes. Instead, especially among the Charismatics, much of the publication is devoted to material about so-called "conversion to God," private experience of contact with God and so on.

Perhaps the most interesting of the Protestant publications is the newspaper Christian World. Ecumenical in content, it is published twice a month and gives informative materials about the life of various Christian Churches in Ukraine and Protestantism throughout the world. It also has analytical articles on theological, catechetical, social, scholarly and general religious themes. There are also other Protestant publications with no specific confessional ties (Christianity Today), but compared to Christian World they are weak examples.

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The Evangelical Baptists publish the magazine The Evangelical Field and the newpaper Resurrection. There is also a newspaper for deaf and mute faithful, Voice in the Wilderness.

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The Word of Life Church publishes a newspaper of the same name.

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Evangelical Pentecostals publish the newspapers Voice of Hope, I believe, Light of the Resurrection, the magazine The Good News Messenger and others.

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The Seventh-Day Adventists publish a quarterly Signs of the Times, newspapers Way to the Truth, The Christian and others.

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The previously mentioned Charismatic Religious Organizations have numerous publications, the circulation of which sometimes reaches the tens of thousands. These newspapers have sermons, witnesses of faith and, less often, news: Word of Faith, New Hope, Steps, Jesus-Our Life, World Harvest, Christian Mariupol and others. Another distinguishing characteristic of Charismatic publications, in particular the newspaper Steps, is a clear lack of respect for other denominations, especially traditional ones, mocking Catholic and Orthodox customs and rituals.

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The Ukrainian Lutheran Church publishes the newspaper Banner, full of pastoral and catechetical sermons and materials on current social themes.

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Various separate Christian communities publish a number of newspapers. Among these the newspaper For You has much informational material and articles on current social problems. Other titles are Timothy, The Source, Good News, Way to Life.

There are also Moslem and Jewish religious publications in Ukraine, though with small circulations.

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Moslem publication are present above all in Crimea, also in southern Ukraine and in Kyiv: Al-Bayan, Arraid and others. Generally they have articles with instruction, education about rituals and also news.

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Jewish ethnic and religious publications have their biggest circulations in southern and eastern Ukraine and in Lviv, with a number of titles. Above all they have information about the life of Jewish communities, prayer and liturgical practices and instructional materials. Social themes are completely absent. They are circulated inside Jewish communities and are exclusively in Russian.

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Other religious groups have a very limited mass media presence. The newspaper of the neo-pagans, Oriana, and publications of other religious groups come out irregularly. The Jehovah's Witnesses circulate millions of their publications Watch Tower and Awake! in Ukrainian and in Russian, but these are not printed in Ukraine. Members of Eastern Religions circulate their literature. In addition, foreign religious publications are freely circulated in Ukraine, especially the Russian Orthodox, who now have a significant Internet presence.