The Future of the UGCC: His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s Vision

As we reflect on moving forward together into the future, let us ask the Lord Our God in prayer: how does He see our Church today and tomorrow? I remember that after the war broke out in Donbas, I shared my experiences with Pope Francis, telling him: “I ask the Lord: why did You resurrect us after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Why do You breathe into the once dead, buried body of our Church the breath of the resurrected Savior, the breath of the Holy Spirit?” In response, the Holy Father said: “It is clear that you have a special mission in the Catholic Church and the modern world. God has plans for you all!”

Therefore, turning to the Lord in prayer about our future, let us ask how He wants us to act at that time. Let us not construct human plans alone, but seek God’s will for us Christians, for our Church in Ukraine and the world, and for humanity, which is being born and unfolding before our eyes. Once, while seeking an answer to my question, words that Christ addressed to His disciples before ascending to heaven spoke to my heart. Indeed, it was a development strategy for the Church, which the Savior left to His apostles. He said this: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) It is an unchanging, eternal strategy — Christ’s will for His resurrected body, which is the Church of Christ in these times of awaiting His glorious second coming.

However, for us to correctly understand this divine strategy for our Church, I think it is important to again listen to the voice of the Holy Father. He says that we can implement this strategy through pastoral conversion. So let us dream about our future, heeding the task that the resurrected Christ has set before us, and being guided by the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to us through the successor of the Apostle Peter.

“Go forth”

The first thing Christ says is: “Go forth!” According to Pope Francis, this is about a way of communicating and building relationships between people. Pastoral conversion is necessary for the Church as a missionary community, to go outside the church walls into the modern world, not to condemn it, but to save it in Christ.

We need to change our style and way of communicating, and the way we work together. In this new way of pastoral conversion, I consider the most important factor to be a movement from seeking honors to healing the wounds of modern humanity. Because along with the revival of our Church, we have sometimes brought back certain ideas about her role and place, ideas about what these once were before her destruction. Sometimes we subconsciously see our role, our style of church presence in society, as that of “princes of the Church.” In today’s world, I see it as necessary to move away from such an attitude, and move toward something else.

To “go forth” in the modern world means to get off our pedestals, not to seek honors and privileges, and to come down from our imagined princely grandeur to serve modern man. It applies to bishops, priests, monks and nuns, as well as to members of various church movements and lay communities. We need to get off our pedestals to address the wounds of modern man, often filled with pain, blood, and pus. We must wash and cleanse these wounds.


Then Christ instructs us to teach. What does that mean today? Teaching does not mean commanding by power of authority, instructing everyone in a patronizing tone about how they should live, or reprimanding those who do not live the way we would like.

We must get off the pedestal of the pedagogue, the punisher, the strict teacher with a pointer in his hands, and stand with today’s people as those who teach by example, who convince others by the power of personal testimony, who do not coerce, but captivate with personal faith and the stance of a disciple of Christ. Only in this way can we teach, make disciples of others, and offer them a model of discipleship that characterizes Christ’s successors, followers, and members of the Church.


Now comes our next step. Jesus Christ says: “Go forth — and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Modern society has formed a false perception of the Church as being a community which provides social services and all the human social needs not covered by the state, or as a specific cultural intellectual institution. Instead, the Church of Christ is a sacramental organism. Christ sends us forth to teach, not so that people know more, but in order to baptize them. The Church, as an organism of the sacred mysteries, the sacramental Body of Jesus Christ, cannot but administer the Holy Sacraments. We have what is needed to wash and heal human wounds which are inflicted by sin and from which flow streams of blood and pus. The Sacraments of the Church of Christ are the healing remedies.

Even during pandemic conditions, we are called to baptize and give birth to new members of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism. In the same way, we are called to anoint with chrism, to chrismate, and thus administer the fruits of Pentecost. We cannot fail to offer the Holy Eucharist, especially when our people ask for Holy Communion because they must live most of their Eucharistic lives online. Through Confession, we cannot but pour out over modern man the healing power of God’s mercy. We are called to ordain bishops, priests, and deacons. We cannot but marry new couples. We cannot but anoint with the oil of healing those who suffer from serious diseases. We are called to administer the Holy Sacraments!


The next challenge for pastoral conversion is the restructuring of our church institutions. The church is often viewed as a fossilized institution of the past, a pyramid that has stood for two thousand years and is beginning to crumble because of old age. That is also a misconception. The Church is a living community with a hierarchical structure which generates new forms suited for holding the community together, and serving it with modern ways of communication in contemporary society within a new culture. When we realize that the Church is a community of bishops, priests, monk, nuns, and lay people — who form its majority — we will understand how this community should live in new circumstances and what forms of institutional life it should generate.

Be in Solidarity

Last but not least, we must undergo a specific conversion, from the notion that the Church is a kind of financial corporation that seeks earthly means for sustenance and meeting its needs, and plans its spending activities accordingly. Such thinking is entirely alien to the Church, which does not have lobbying interests. The Church is a community of solidarity in which all its members are called to share their gifts.

The Church is a community that the Lord constantly enriches, constantly renews, and sends new people with unique talents, skills, and vision. Therefore, the most incredible wealth of our Church is the people! And everyone who enters the Church community has the task of sharing all their talents in the service of the broader community because only in this way will they be able to develop and multiply them.

We see this in the Gospel, when Christ tells the disciples to feed five thousand people, not counting women and children, with five loaves and two fish, (cf. Mt. 14:14–21). The disciples doubt that they can do it. However, Jesus blesses the food, and His blessing becomes a moment of multiplication. We also constantly feel that our needs are greater than our capabilities. But the Lord multiplies our possibilities with His heavenly blessing.

Therefore, our strategy is to go forth together to teach all the peoples and cultures in which we live, with whom we are in relationship, and with whom we are to share the wealth of our Kyivan spiritual liturgical heritage as a united global local Church. We must make disciples of all nations, giving them the Sacraments of Christ’s Church and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then the Lord will bless our Church and, acting through us, the modern world.