From November 28–29, 2019, a conference was held at the Mega Synodiko of the Metochion of Kykkos in Cyprus, at which His Eminence Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos and Tellyria gave his greeting. Met. Nikephoros made the important point that in the current canonical crisis the Orthodox Church, monastics have the particular obligation not to keep silence, but apply all their strength and work toward a resolution.
I express my joy and pleasure with the present international conference, which has as its theme “Monasticism and the Contemporary World,” which is jointly organized by the Holy Metropoles of Limassol and Amathos, Kykkos and Tellyria, Tamasos and Tamassos and Oreini, and the Synodal Office of Monasticism of the Moscow Patriarchate.
I cordially welcome to Cyprus, “this island of the Saints and Martyrs,” the distinguished representatives of the sister Orthodox Church of Russia and I pray, with God, for the success and fruitfulness of the activities of this conference.
It has been stated—and this characterization is God-given and precise—that monasticism constitutes “calling with a loud proclamation to the feast” (Proverbs 9:3 LXX).
This is because those who are guests at its table, though they are on earth, voluntarily choose to practice the “angelic state” and to acquire “holy knowledge and experience”, things that “contain countless good things”, in the words of Saint Neilos the Ascetic.
Nevertheless, a practitioner of holy and angelic conduct and an initiate of God’s love, with the vertical and the horizontal dimension, it is only this one who lays the “foursquare foundation” of the monastic edifice, according to our Saint Neophytos, obedience, abstinence, patience and humility.
Thus, monasticism highlights, and as a comprehensive charisma also constitutes, a “sign” of God in the world, that which is “near and that which is far,” over time. The history of our Church also evinces and confirms this to us.
Yes. Is there not prosperity in the monastic state, which has also lifted up great fathers and teachers as well as saints of our Church, who become “points of light in the world” and with their prominent words and with their all-virtuous model are the God-proclaiming trumpets of our Church in the Ecumene?
Is not the University of Monasticism, which has cultivated and brought forth the abundance of literature of theology, the sacred treasuries of Hymnography, the riches of Iconography and Philanthropy worthy of God, as well as stores of Letters, Arts and Education?
Or, even today, are not those who love it, the divine philosophy, who continue to hold on to and demonstrate the historic course and offering of monasticism, confirming, with general askesis and their state, the words of the Lord, that they belong to the “wise and faithful stewards” (Luke 12:42) who multiply the talents that God gives humankind? (Matthew 25:15, etc.)
The multifaceted work of monasticism finds its summation and statement in the timeless saying of a great Monk of our Church, Saint John Climacus, who declares that “Angels are light for monks and monks are the light of those in the world”!
Taking into consideration the program of this conference, and the reputation of its speakers, I am confident that, with the presentations and the fertile questions and comments of its participants, it will meet the expectations of the organizers, who aim to demonstrate the importance and significance of monasticism in the contemporary world.
Nevertheless, beloved conference-goers, as a Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Christ, I profoundly feel the necessity, before I leave this podium, to express my anxieties and fears regarding the painful crisis that our Orthodoxy is going through, a perilous and unjustified crisis that has broken out within our Orthodox Church on account of the non-canonical decision of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, to recognize the schismatic Church of Kiev and to grant so-called “autocephaly” to Ukraine, apart from unanimous canonical tradition and timeless ecclesiastical practice.
This tragedy of division, beloved brothers in Christ, threatens to tear apart the Body of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.
We are experiencing events that remind us of the eve of the schism of 1054, which split ecumenical Christianity into Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, with all the subsequent tragic consequences.
Already the immense schism that threatens Ecumenical Orthodoxy, after the Primates of Alexandria and Athens rallied to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, has hatched and stands, not before, but within the gates of the Orthodox Church.
Therefore, it is not permitted for anyone—and especially not us Orthodox monks, who constitute the vanguard of our Church—to remain apathetic and idle in the face of the current dramatic impasse that our Orthodoxy is experiencing.
We must all transform our passive anguish into active responsibility. We must—we monks of our Holy Orthodox Church first and foremost—attract, with the strenuous eruption of our all-night prayer, the mercy of God and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, so that the leaders of Orthodoxy, the Primates of our local Orthodox Churches , with kenotic love and a sacrificial and humble mindset, listen to the voice of the Lord, according to that strenuous prayer of His, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21), overcome impermissible egoism, stubbornness and lust for power, and begin a fraternal pan-Orthodox dialogue in order to overcome the current crisis that threatens the unity of Orthodoxy.
The Primates of our Churches must, in a frank dialogue of love and humility, without the influence of outside political powers and the involvement of geostrategic and geopolitical interests, offer to our Church the fragrant witness of unity, because we should not forget that the sin of schism is irremediable and unforgivable.
Only if the basic principle of synodality, upon which our our Orthodox Church has always insisted, once again functions can there be an exit to the current impasse, which threatens the unity of our Orthodoxy. I pray that the All-Merciful and All-Good Lord “with the temptation will also make the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Beloved brothers in Christ,
With these thoughts I greet you and once more with special joy and satisfaction and I pray for the success of our conference.
May the spirit of love and the joy of our brotherhood embrace you all for the entire duration of your presence here.
I thank you.