Ukrainian Christian Social Movement

ID: 111

This political trend  existed under different names from the late 19th century till the WWII. "Positive work" through the search for compromises with the authorities, loyalty to the Catholic Church, ideological rejection of Russophilism in all its manifestations, a distinctly pro-Western vector of society's development were at the core of the social Christians' activities. The group enjoyed the support of a part of the Greek Catholic clergy who did not welcome Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky's reforms and patterned their behavior on Bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn of Stanisławów.


In the late 19th century part of the nationalists (narodovtsi), led by Oleksandr Barvinskyi, spoke, contrary to the majority, in favor of the continuation of the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation policy (the so-called New Era), as well as against the political alliance with the Russophiles. Supported bythe Metropolitan Sylvestr Sembratovych, the Catholic Ruthenian People's Union (CRPU) was formed on 14 October 1896. From 1897 to 1914, the Ruslan newspaper was its the main mouthpiece..

Social Christian movement's key features were defined in that period. Their main objectives were the same as those of other Ukrainian parties, such as establishment of a national self-government and a Ukrainian university, as well as declaration of national unity with Ukrainians in the Russian Empire. Their practices and approaches differed, however, involving compromises with the Poles, and a total rejection of Russophilism.

The social Christians were in fact the only group who consistenty promoted the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. Influenced by untramontanism, they substantiated clergy's role in public life, the right to peaceful strikes and assembly, the need to raise wages for workers, the restriction of large capital and land ownership.

Loyalty to the Catholic Church led to a positive perception of the entire "Latin" civilization space, which included the Greek Catholic part of the Ukrainian people. It was in this light that social Christians interpreted the need for a Ukrainian-Polish compromise, calling to introduce positive Western achievements in economics, ethics, and social life. In fact, it was the only Ukrainian political group of that time to uphold the "European vector."

Instead, in the mass perception of the early 20th century, the party's ideas became growingly unpopular. Catholic universalism began to be perceived as "indifference to national affairs"; compromises with the Poles as treason, criticism of Drahomanov's and Franko's leftist ideas, an infringement on the popular prophets' thought. The group remained small in number and its electoral prospects deteriorated in proportion to democratization of electoral law.

Thus, out of the nine Ukrainian ambassadors elected from Galicia to the Austrian State Council (Parliament) in 1897, six represented the CRPU and joined the Slavic Christian National Club. Later, the party started to loose ground: in the 1901 elections to the Galician Diet the group under the brand of "Ruthenian Community" was not supported by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi. Oleksandr Barvinskyi, the sole candidate from the social Christians, was not elected in 1904. In the 1907 elections, the party did not win a single mandate again.

At that time, an antagonism between promoters of pro-Western trend and followers of a pro-Eastern policy became pronounced within the Greek Catholic Church. The social Christians were on the side of Bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn, a less popular bishop, and opposed the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi. The "Westerners" established the Christian Social Union (CSU) in 1911, a clerical political party. This caused a lot of negative feedback in Ukrainian press. "Polish inspirations" aimed at drawing off peasant sympathies from the nationalists; the "Trojan horse" of Ukrainian politics, were among the names they received in press.

The CSU was not a large party (approx. 300-500 members) and did not play a significant role in political life. In fact, during the Austrian period the party could be identified with a kind of elite club of Lviv's successful Ukrainian intellectuals. Oleksander Barvinskyi, professors Anatoliy Vakhianyn and his son-in-law Kyrylo Studynskyi were among its most important members. Studynskyi, in fact, managed the Ruslan newspaper, while Barvinskyi secured its financial support through his connections in Vienna.

In 1918, the social Christians supported the ZUNR.

During the interwar period, in 1925, a new structure was created under the leadership of Stepan Tomashivskyi.The Ukrainian Christian Organization (UCO) opposed both Bolshevism and integral nationalism. In the 1930s, part of the Christian community merged with the UNDO, some of them founded the Ukrainian Catholic People's Party (UCPP), which in 1932 was renamed the Ukrainian People's Renewal (UPR). The party functioned mainly in the territory of the Stanisławów and Przemysl dioceses of the Greek Catholic Church, receiving support from the bishops and spreading its ideas through the Nova Zoria (New Star) newspaper. In the territory of the Lviv Archdiocese, patronized by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi, the Ukrainian Catholic Union (UCU), which supported the UNDO, prevailed among the "clerical" organizations.

Related Places


Vul. Hlibova, 15 – residential building

Kyrylo Studynskyi was owner and resident of this building


Vul. Barvinskykh, 5 – residential building

Barvinskyi's private villa


Oleksander Barvinskyi — founder of the Catholic Ruthenian People's Union and the Christian Social Union, Austrian Parliament member, lifelong member of the House of Lords (which testified to the high status and affiliation with the imperial hierarchy), ZUNR government member.
Kyrylo Studynskyi — philologist, one of the leaders of the CSU, co-editor of the Ruslan newspaper.
Anatoliy Vakhnianyn — composer, co-organizer and first chairman of the Prosvita Society, Austrian Parliamentmember, founder and director of the Higher Music Institute (later the Lviv Conservatoire), co-founder (together with Barvinskyi) of the Ruslan magazine.
Osyp Nazaruk — editor of theNova Zoria newspaper.


1. "Віче в церкві", Громадський Голос, 1907, ч. 12, 4.
2. "Новинки", Діло, 1907, ч. 241, 3.
3. "Песовісні хлополапи, або Як “Свобода” говорить до наших селян!", Руслан, 1913, ч. 80, 1–2.
4. "Піп з рабіном за пан-брат", Громадський Голос, 1907, ч. 12.
5. "“Христіянське” гайворонє летить на жир!", Громадський Голос, 1913, ч. 22, 4–5.
6. Олена Аркуша, "Український християнсько-суспільний рух у Галичині на початку XX століття: політичне товариство “Руська громада”", Шляхами історії. Науковий збірник історичного факультету ЛНУ ім. Івана Франка. На пошану професора Костянтина Кондратюка, Львів, 2004, 63–99.
7. Олег Єгрешій, Єпископ Григорій Хомишин: портрет релігійно-церковного і громадсько-політичного діяча (Івано-Франківськ: Нова Зоря, 2006), 168.
8. Ігор Чорновол, "Олександр Барвінський у контексті своєї й нинішньої епохи", Олександр Барвінський. 1847-1927: матеріали конференції, присвяченої 150 річниці Олександра Барвінського, Львів, 14 травня 1997 р., Львів, 2001, 32–44.

By Nazar Kis
Edited by Vasyl Rasevych