The Complexity and Duplicity of Deciphering the New Ukrainian Law on Religion

by Anatoliy Babynskyi

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The problem of conversions between religious communities has existed in Ukraine  since the late 1980s and early 1990s,  when the country was struggling for independence and its religious map was being formed. The rise from the underground of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC) raised questions about the restitution of property lost as a result of the forced liquidation of the Church in 1946, when almost all Church property had been transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The resurgence of the underground Greco-Catholics coincided with the revival of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). This meant that conflicts over property arose not only among Greco-Catholics and Orthodox, but also within the Orthodox Church between the Ukrainian Exarchate of the ROC, which was renamed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in 1990, and the UAOC. In 1992, part of the UOC—including Metropolitan Filaret Denisenko—merged with part of the UAOC, which resulted in a third Ukrainian Orthodox denomination: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), which, like the UAOC, is not recognized by the rest of the Orthodox world. The emergence of another Orthodox jurisdiction led to a new wave of parish conversions.

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The Power of Sexual Purity: An Orthodox Response to the Sexual Revolution of Our Time

by David C. Ford and Mary Ford

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In this modern day and age, when sexual promiscuity – i.e., any sexual relations outside marriage – abounds all around us, why would anyone choose to live in sexual purity? How could refraining from all sexual relations outside of marriage ever be more fulfilling, more satisfying, than having sexual adventures before getting married, and perhaps even after marriage through having affairs?

The Orthodox Church’s answer would begin, we think, with affirming what our Saints through all the centuries have always known from their own life-experience, as shaped by the life of the Church – that virtue, including sexual purity, has power, contributing greatly to the deep inner peace, profound joy, true love, and ineffable satisfaction that come from finding our “true selves” through living in the way our Creator intends for us to live. Continue Reading…

Orthodox Christianity: Offering Material Piety to Twenty-first Century America

by Carrie Frederick Frost

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Material piety was central to the early Church and it flourishes to this day within Orthodox Christianity. That Christians would love the material, created world makes perfect sense—their God took on matter in order to appear in the world of His creation. And early Christians understood that their path to God would be walked in that world; embodied as a human, among the other animals, alongside the trees, over the earth, beneath the sky.

Early Christians expressed this love for matter through their ornamentation of the catacombs of Rome, which were places not just of burial of the dead, but of gathering, of worship, and of praise. The same goes for outside spaces in later centuries, when noble women gathered in cemeteries to care for the graves and their park-like surroundings. The faithful also crafted religious objects: rings, bracelets, and ampullae for oil from holy sites, thus feeding their proclivity for, as Robert Wilken calls it, tactile piety: “worship with the lips and fingertips.” Continue Reading…