Zakynthos, Greece, December 25, 2018
A video appeared online last week that has caused great confusion amongst the Orthodox faithful throughout the world.
The video, entitled “The First Commemoration of the Metropolitan of Kiev in the Diptychs of the Orthodox Churches,” shows the deacon for the retired Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos of the Greek Orthodox Church commemorating the primates of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, including “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko of the newly-created nationalist church in Ukraine.
This individual decision by Met. Chrysostomos sowed great confusion, leaving many believing that the Greek Orthodox Church had officially recognized the Ukrainian schismatics.
For example, the Ukrainian site Religious Truth ran an article entitled, “Greek Orthodox Church commemorates Ukraine in the list of Local Churches” that claimed that “The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, through his archdeacon, commemorated the name of His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine at the Liturgy.”
However, Fr. Romanos Anastasiadis, who posted the video on YouTube, clearly writes that the Liturgy took place in Zakynthos. Moreover, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece is nowhere in the video.
According to the traditional and accepted liturgical order, hierarchs of a Local Church commemorate their own primate, while the primate of each Local Church commemorates his brother primates. Thus, not only did Met. Chrysostomos take it upon himself to recognize the Ukrainian nationalist church, but he also took it upon himself to alter the order and text of the Divine Liturgy to add primatial commemorations.
Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Head of the canonical Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, responded by saying that the metropolitan’s reckless decision was an amateurish display.
It was an isolated incident. It’s incorrect to say this is the position of the entire Greek Orthodox Church, as the Synod of this Church will meet only after the holidays to assess the council that was held in Kiev. In fact, the commemoration that occurred was the amateur performance of one retired bishop. He personally has a highly critical attitude towards the Russian Orthodox Church. In general, according to the rules of the Greek Church, a local metropolitan has the right to commemorate only the Archbishop of Athens, as the head of his Church, and only the Archbishop of Athens commemorates the primates of all the other Churches. Therefore, as I have already said, what happened was an amateur and arbitrary performance.
Fr. Romanos Anastasiadis’ description of the video on YouTube is quite telling. He writes that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine is surely no longer the Metropolitan of Kiev and that it would be good to “put [that] in his distraught and fanatical Russian mind,” despite the fact that Met. Onuphry is a loyal Ukrainian. He also joyfully writes that Met. Onuphry will soon face sanctions from the Ukrainian state for continuing to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.
Fr. Romanos also writes that His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, is “a pernicious and satanic blasphemer and an agent of Putin’s totalitarianism and imperialism.”
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