Catholics of the Byzantine rite, known as Greek Catholics, are heirs of the Union of Brest of 1596, which the hierarchy of the Kyivan Metropolia established with the Church of Rome. They belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was liquidated by Stalin’s regime and forcibly “re-united” with the Russian Orthodox Church after World War Two. Though officially forbidden and harshly persecuted, this Church preserved its hierarchical structures underground and in diaspora, and in December 1989 it requested official legalization. The UGCC now has the second largest number of religious communities of the Churches in Ukraine. There are patrons of the Greek Catholic Union, and the Greek Church in America.