Kiev, February 8, 2023
Starting September 1, the ecclesiastical new year according to the new calendar, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church will serve on the new calendar.
This decision of the UGCC’s Synod of Bishops was announced this week by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
The structure will continue to use the old Paschalion, though this is only a temporary measure, Shevchuk said. In honor of the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicea, which will be celebrated in 2025, work is underway to find a common updated Paschalion so all Christians of all types can celebrate Pascha today, the Uniate head explained.
Shevchuk believes this movement will begin with a common celebration of Christmas on December 25 with the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
According to statements from leaders of the schismatic sect, its hierarchs will likely vote to switch to the new calendar this year. The OCU’s Synod announced that the question of calendar reform will be taken up by the Council of Bishops in May, and according to “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya, it’s quite likely that the hierarchs will vote to transfer the entire OCU to the new calendar.
In fact, the Uniate and schismatic heads already agreed in December to work together on moving to the new calendar.
In the meantime, the OCU has blessed individual parishes to celebrate Christmas on December 25 and is now blessing parishes to move entirely to the new calendar if they desire.
The liturgical life of religious structures has also drawn the attention of the state, which seems to be in support of the new calendar project.
Minister of Culture and Information Policy Alexander Tkachenko took to Telegram on Monday to praise the decision of the UGCC, saying: “The reform of the liturgical calendar is long overdue.”
His Ministry even launched a survey on the matter in a popular Ukrainian phone app, which, according to Tkachenko, showed that Ukrainian society is ready to make the switch.
And Tkachenko and various OCU and nationalist figures have made it clear why they’re ready to change Ukraine’s 1,000-year tradition: to not celebrate Christmas with the Russian Church.
“This process” of switching to the new calendar “is already accelerating, because no one wants to celebrate Christmas together with Moscow,” Tkachenko said on air last month.
According to OCU “Metropolitan” Ioann Yaremenko, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 in Ukraine only because it was subordinated for 300 years to the Russian Church, whose “feudal-serf” spirit prevented Ukraine from aligning its liturgical calendar “with simple or even elementary astronomical facts of human life.”
“Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich declared in December that the entire Orthodox world uses the new calendar except for Moscow.
He explained his diocese’s move to stop celebrating Christmas on January 7: “We decided to eradicate this habit because it’s Russian… The Mother Church of Constantinople, which gave us the tomos, celebrates Christmas on December 25.”
Despite the OCU hierarch’s claim, the old calendar is used on Mt. Athos and in the Churches of Jerusalem, Georgia, Serbia, Poland, and Macedonia. The Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and the Orthodox Church in America have parishes, monasteries, and even entire dioceses that serve according to the old calendar. The Bulgarian diaspora in the U.S., Canada, and Australia also serves according to the old calendar.
And according to Vitaly Sobko, a cleric of the OCU’s Volyn Diocese, an important advantage of changing calendars is that it will be a blow to the “Russian World.”
“And where will we, the Orthodox, be?” asks the editorial staff of the Ukrainian outlet The Union of Orthodox Journalists. “After all, surely all these events will further strengthen the repression of the [canonical] UOC, which is already considerable.”
“We will be in the Orthodox Church founded by Christ,” the UOJ answers.