Athens, May 23, 2019
The ongoing Church problem in Ukraine should be solved by all Local Churches together, not each unilaterally, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus said in an interview with Romfea in Athens yesterday.
Asked whether he thought the Greek Church would be the first to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Abp. Chrysostomos underlined that “a unilateral decision would not be helpful, and the result would be what I feared. I also could have made a decision in favor of one or another, but I find this to be wrong. That’s why we did not do it.”
Meanwhile, the schismatics openly expect the Greek Church to be among the first to recognize them, and an archimandrite from the Greek Church, Epiphany (Dimitriou) will be consecrated as a bishop of the schismatic church this weekend, the Union of Orthodox Journalists learned.
The Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement on the Ukrainian problem in which they criticized the Russian Church’s’ breaking of communion with Constantinople but also expressed serious reservations about the Ukrainian schismatics being received by Constantinople without them being canonically ordained.
He also considers it fair and just that none of the other Local Churches have taken a position in favor of either Constantinople or Moscow. Otherwise “we would have a definite schism, with mathematical precision,” Abp. Chrysostomos added.
It is notable that he does not accuse any of the Churches of deciding in favor of Moscow, as Greek and Ukrainian media widely accuses the Serbian, Polish, Czech-Slovak, and Antiochian Churches of siding with Moscow for political reasons. His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland, however, have emphasized that their decisions to not accept the Ukrainian schismatics are based solely in the canonical tradition of the Church.
All parties involved need to think only about the good of the Church, not about personal interests, the Cypriot primate emphasized. “The Church is one, and we must all help to raise it up. We must cherish Orthodoxy as the apple of our eye,” he said.
Abp. Chrysostomos has taken up the role of mediator between the Churches, in lieu of Patriarch Bartholomew, visiting the primates of the fraternal Local Churches in order to coordinate and find a real solution to the crisis facing the Church. He noted in his interview that his recent visits with the primates of the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek Churches went well and were undertaken with the blessing of Pat. Bartholomew.
In his view, Moscow and Constantinople do not need to enter into dialogue together alone, but that all the Churches will enter into dialogue when the right time comes, which he is trying to facilitate.
He also explained that the idea to visit the other primates arose in conversation with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who cannot accompany him due to eye problems and the pressure he is under.
Abp. Chrysostomos also reported that His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, will visit him in Cyprus next week.
“I do not know what he wants, but be sure that I will answer him directly,” the Archbishop emphasized.
In conclusion, Abp. Chrysostomos said he is confident that God will bless the Church’s work in solving the problem, undertaken with faith and love and for the interest of the Church as a whole.
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