Nicosia, Cyprus, January 9, 2019
Finding himself in a position where he again had to refute misinformation coming from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus stressed that he rejected a proposed visit from “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the new Ukrainian schismatic structure, and that he had not and will not commemorate him at the Divine Liturgy.
His Beatitude met with the Ukrainian ambassador to Cyprus Boris Gumenyuk today, after which Cypriot media, referencing sources in the Ukrainian embassy, reported that Abp. Chrysostomos spoke in favor of autocephaly in Ukraine, reports the Greek news agency Romfea.
The site of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports that such information appeared on the site of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well, stating: “The head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church confirmed his position on the right of Ukraine to have its own independent autocephalous Church and wished the Ukrainian people peace and goodness.”
Romfea then contacted His Beatitude, who denied the information coming from the Ukrainian embassy.
He emphasized that “every state has the right to autocephaly, and it depends on the Ukrainian people, but, nevertheless, at the moment I see that the Ukrainian people have not aroused themselves to such actions.”
He also noted that “while it is not of paramount importance to provide autocephaly, it is important that there be no division in Orthodoxy.”
In conclusion, Abp. Chrysostomos noted that he had been contacted about the possibility of Epiphany Dumenko visiting Cyprus, which he flatly refused. He also stressed that he has not and will not commemorate him at the Divine Liturgy.
At a meeting with the same ambassador in September, the Cypriot primate “expressed his worry and concern about the latest events in the Ukrainian Church and the possibility of the creation of a schism that would harm the unity of all Orthodoxy.”
However, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also misrepresented Abp. Chrysostomos’ words at that time to make him out to be a supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s granting of autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. The reports that made the rounds in Ukrainian media differed markedly from that on the official page of the Church of Cyprus.
At that time, the Cypriot primate expressed his willingness to serve as a mediator in the situation, though since then it has become clear that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is not interested in discussing the matter, having disregarded the warning of numerous Synods, primates, and hierarchs.
In early October, Abp. Chrysostomos also noted that he is opposed to political interference in Ukrainian Church affairs, though politicians have been the main players in the autocephaly process.
Thus far, Patriarch Bartholomew’s request to every primate to recognize the new Ukrainian nationalist-schismatic structure and to commemorate “Metropolitan” Epiphany has been rejected by the Polish and Serbian Churches, and the Antiochian Church, which again called for a pan-Orthodox council to discuss the matter (though Pat. Bartholomew again refused). The Greek Holy Synod declined to fulfill Pat. Bartholomew’s request, instead referring it on for further consideration by the broader Bishops’ Council.
According to an informed source within the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, that Church’s Synod also will not recognize the Ukrainian schismatics, though the Synod has yet to meet and make its official decision.
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