Today, 22 years after the demise of the tyrannical Leninist-Stalinist Soviet empire in 1989, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is back to pre-World War II strength with 2300 priests and six and a half million faithful. Throughout the world including Canada, the United States and Western Europe, it counts 43 bishops who are about to meet in a Synod to elect a new major archbishop of the Eastern Catholic Church following the February 20, 2011 retirement of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Cardinal could have served for life but is now 78 years old, almost blind, and has asked to retire.
Religious tensions in the Republic concern less the relationship between Orthodox and Catholics than the relationship of Orthodox loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate and Orthodox who support an independent Ukrainian Patriarchate. Prime Minister Yanukovych, elected a year ago, favours Moscow and Russia in foreign policy and religion and recently autocratically moved three parishes from the Ukrainian Orthodox to the Moscow Patriarchate, in the old Russian style of treating the Orthodox Church as a Department of State (CNS, "Step forward for Catholic-Orthodox relations?" (National Catholic Register, Feb. 27,2011).