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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is under construction in Kyiv

11 November, 2003 - 00:00

The residence of the Patriarch of the UGCC is built simultaneously with the cathedral, including religious and office premises, and a large conference hall to hold synodal and other meetings of the clergy. The cathedral will also house a room for informal gatherings of the parishioners, Sunday school classes, catechization, etc. There will even be a cafeteria in the basement.

This will be the first large UGCC church in Kyiv. Moreover, it is meant as a patriarchal cathedral, the center of Greek Catholic religious life in Ukraine and abroad. At present, there are only two small Greek Catholic churches (by the Grave of Askold and on Lviv Square) and several chapels. That the Resurrection Cathedral is being built on the Left Bank of the Dnipro should perhaps be regarded as a symbol marking the end of the UGCC’s enforced regional status as a Western Ukrainian Church, so that now it will be referred to as Ukrainian, on a par with all the other churches in this country.

Originally, the UGCC wanted the cathedral built on the Right Bank, but now everybody agrees that the current one could not be better. It is spacious and scenic and affords a view of the Kyiv Hills across the river. Exarch Vasyl Medvit, Bishop of Kyiv and Vyshgorod, who is supervising the construction project, drew my attention to the fact that the site opens on the great Orthodox relics: the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery of the Caves, St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Belfry of the St. Sophia of Kyiv, and St. Andrew’s Church, the place where Saint Andrew had once blessed the Ukrainian land. The new church will be seen from the Right Bank, standing by a river channel, amidst rich greenery. Another positive aspect is that the construction of the church coincides with construction work in the nearby residential area. When completed, it will without doubt become a major venue and the most attractive feature of the whole area.

The project designer is Academician Mykola Levchuk. The exterior architectural style (the cathedral will rise impetuously, its cupola and the cross reaching above the tallest buildings to be erected nearby) is quite modern, without any manifestly traditional structural or decorative elements. Construction began in September 2002 and is carried out by the Ukrmonolitspetsbud Design and Construction Concern. Deputy Manager Anatoly Kohut says there are no financing problems, so all construction workers (almost a hundred in all) are paid on time and in amounts corresponding the Kyivans’ official median income (some UAH 650, not too much, considering their hard work). Serhiy Popov, head of production section, adds that building churches is different from the construction of homes or offices. Among other things, one seldom hears expletives from the workers, although most are not UGCC adherents — or of other churches, for that matter. They watch their tongues because they are building a house of God.

The total cost of the project — construction, decoration, and finishing, including the patriarchal residence — is $10 million. Where did the UGCC get the money? Bishop Vasyl replies, “The fund was raised by Greek Catholics all over the world, every adherent donating as much as he or she could afford. Some deposit a hryvnia in a collection box marked ‘For the Temple,’ others make sizable bank transfers.” For example, UGCC Patriarch Liubomyr Huzar recently received a check for $275,000 Canadian for the construction of a patriarchal cathedral in Kyiv. The money was from the late Ukrainian Canadian Mykhailo Halandiuk who bequeathed all his savings to religious, benevolent, and cultural projects undertaken by Ukrainians in Canada and Ukraine. Large sums were transferred to the Chornobyl Children Canadian Foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Youth Association, hospitals in Lviv, publishing companies specializing in Ukrainian editions, and numerous other organizations. Among other things, a special book-publishing fund dedicated to Simon Petliura was raised. It is noteworthy that Mr. Halandiuk also bequeathed $275,000 Canadian for St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv (under the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church). Apparently the good man did not care much for confessional subtleties, God rest his soul.

Bishop Vasyl Medvit is certain that the cathedral will be completed in 2004, but even now one can visualize the scope (the church will be large enough to accommodate 1,500 worshippers), architecture, and interior. The latter is a special matter still to be decided; who will decorate the iconostasis, paint the image of Christ Almighty in the central vault, and in what style; whether the cathedral will have mosaics and stained-glass windows. Here the UGCC may be faced with the problem of choice, as Ukraine is experiencing a Christian artistic boom.

After the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is completed and sanctified, another complicated problem will arise: transfer of the UGCC Archdiocese from Lviv to Kyiv. This problem will be difficult in administrative, religious, and political terms. Even though this will not happen in the immediate future, some religious-minded politicians are already voicing their “resolute and adamant” objections. Is it because they happen to forget that the Church is free to decide where to have its religious center in a free country?

By Klara GUDZYK, The Day