Kiev, May 26, 2023
Just as the proponents of the Renovationist church did at the dawn of the Soviet Union, the equally renovationist OCU, headed by Epiphany Dumenko, is inexorably heading toward acceptance of the New Calendar, created at the turn of the century by the Constantinople and Greek Churches. Moreover, the OCU is determined to make the New Calendar the law of the Ukrainian land.
According to the Council resolutions, the transition to the New Calendar should be carried out beginning September 1, the beginning of the new Church year on the New Calendar.
Parishes and monasteries may remain on the Old Calendar if they so desire, but it requires a two-thirds vote from the parish council or spiritual council of the monastery.
The decision comes just months after the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Uniates made the same decision.
The resolutions also note that the using the Revised Julian Calendar for immovable feasts, such as the Nativity, but the Julian Calendar for the movable feasts tied to Pascha creates “difficult cases in liturgical practice” that do not exist on the Old Calendar.
The matter will ultimately be submitted for approval to the next Local Council of the OCU, consisting of all hierarchs and clerical and lay representatives.
Interestingly, the resolutions note that “for several centuries the traditional Julian calendar was perceived as one of the main identifiers of Ukrainian Church culture.” It was seen as a sign of resistance to Latinization and later to the Soviet system.
However, now the Old Calendar is perceived of as connected to Russian Church culture, the OCU hierarchs write, and so the OCU must make the change to the New Calendar.
“After all, the Orthodox Churches that support the Orthodox Church of Ukraine use the modern calendar, while its opponents, and primarily the Russian Orthodox Church, follow the Old Calendar,” the resolutions note.
Moreover, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and the hierarchs of the OCU are looking to the state to follow their lead and change the date of official state holidays that are connected with Orthodox feasts.
“We will appeal to the authorities to coordinate state and Church holidays. For example, this refers to the day of statehood on the feats of St. Vladimir on July 28, but now it will be July 15. The same goes for the feast of the Protection [October 14 on the Old Calendar—OC]. We will ask for it to be rescheduled,” Dumenko told the BBC.
“Metropolitan” Alexander Drabinko told Radio Liberty (a U.S. government funded media outlet) the same thing.
Old Calendar Nativity, January 7, is a state holiday in Ukraine, and New Calendar Nativity, December 25, was also proclaimed a state holiday in 2017.
The Old Calendar is used, besides by the Moscow Patriarchate, 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.
The New Calendar is used entirely or in part by the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and the Orthodox Church in America.