Athens, July 15, 2020
On July 9, the Constantinople-aligned “Orthodox Times” website published an article entitled, “Ukrainians want Metropolitan Epifaniy as Primate,” referring to Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU).
Referring to a recent poll conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), the site reports that in the case of the hypothetical unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the OCU under Epiphany Dumenko, 25.6% of respondents would like to see Epiphany Dumenko as the primate, and only 12.2% would like to see Met. Onuphry take the helm.
However, thanks to a report from the Union of Orthodox Journalists, it is clear that the Orthodox Times presented incomplete information and data from the survey, thus giving a skewed impression of the authority Epiphany Dumenko enjoys among the Ukrainian people.
As the UOJ reports, the main task of the survey was in fact to discover who would be the favored primate in the case of the unification of the UOC with the OCU and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Uniate church.
However, the Orthodox Times referred only to the question about the unification of the UOC and the OCU, thus giving the impression that Ukrainian Orthodox Christians prefer Epiphany Dumenko to Met. Onuphry, although the canonical UOC is far larger than the OCU.
In fact, the survey, conducted from June 24 to 30, was “based on a random sample of telephone numbers,” including responses from Orthodox Christians, schismatics, Uniates, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and others.
It is also important to note that the survey does “not include territories that are temporarily not controlled by the government of Ukraine—the Crimea, and certain regions of the Donetsk and Lugansk Provinces.” While these areas are all home to UOC, OCU, and Greek Catholic churches and dioceses, their populations are heavily in favor of the canonical UOC.
Thus, millions of members of the canonical UOC’s flock were not included in the survey.
According to the KIIS report, 34.3% of respondents are members of the schismatic OCU, while only 15.4% identified as members of the canonical UOC. Another 21.8% identified as Orthodox but without a specified affiliation, and 8.4% identified as Greek Catholic Uniates.
Thus, 84.6% of respondents did not identify as members of the canonical UOC.
In this light, it is no surprise that respondents did not choose Met. Onuphry as their desired primate. The schismatic OCU was by far the largest confession represented. It is also important to remember that the OCU and Uniate churches already speak of a desire to unite into one church and already celebrate services together; thus, again, it is no surprise that Uniates might vote for Epiphany instead of Met. Onuphry.
Further, given that 34.3% of all respondents identified as members of Epiphany Dumenko’s OCU, the survey actually reveals that he enjoys less support than would be expected, as only 25.6% chose him as their favored primate of a unified UOC-OCU, and only 20.2% chose him as their favored primate of a unified UOC-OCU-Uniate church.