Metropolitan Epiphanius, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and Metropolitan Svyatoslav, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, met on Dec. 24 and agreed to consider revising their religious calendars, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said.
The two churches will create a working group for the purpose.
Until recently, both the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Ukrainian Greek Catholics had used only the Julian calendar, which is also used by the Russian Orthodox Church. Roman Catholics use the Gregorian calendar, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and most other autocephalous (independent) Orthodox churches use the revised Julian calendar, which currently coincides with the Gregorian calendar.
Previously the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Ukrainian Greek Catholics had celebrated Christmas only on Jan. 7 (Gregorian calendar) - on the same day as Russia. Most Orthodox churches and Roman Catholics celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 (Gregorian calendar).
This year, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has allowed its parishes to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 as part of the country's efforts to distance itself from Russia amid its aggression against Ukraine.
The developments come amid a backlash against the Russian Orthodox Church's Ukrainian branch.
President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on Dec. 2 to approve a proposal by the National Security and Defense Council to ban the Russian-backed Ukrainian church.
The National Security and Defense Council instructed the Cabinet on Dec. 1 to draft a bill on such a ban. The bill is expected to be considered by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament.
Since November, Ukraine has conducted nationwide raids on religious sites that belong to the Russian-controlled church – during which authorities say they have so far found Russian passports, anti-Ukrainian propaganda, and a stolen collection of icons.