Limassol, Cyprus, November 18, 2019
As previously reported, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria ignored the request of the local ruling hierarch His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol and commemorated the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko while serving the Divine Liturgy for the feast of St. John the Merciful in Limassol on Saturday, November 9.
The Patriarch had first commemorated the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” the day before in Cairo, although he had previously encouraged the Ukrainian faithful to remain loyal to Christ in the canonical Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
Further, as Met. Athanasios revealed in a recent radio broadcast, not only did Patriarch Theodoros commemorate Dumenko against Met. Athanasios’ wishes, but he did so against his own promise not to, according to a statement on the site of the Metropolis of Limassol.
During the broadcast, Met. Athanasios stressed that the bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria who were traveling with Pat. Theodoros assured him from the moment they arrived that the Patriarch had promised not to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko. Further, the Patriarch himself did not warn Met. Athanasios during the Liturgy that he intended to commemorate the schismatic.
Various media outlets speculated that the commemoration of Epiphany Dumenko on Cypriot territory indicates that the Cypriot Church will soon recognize the OCU. Thus, Met. Athanasios had to clarify that his stance remains the same and that he continues to recognize only the canonical Ukrainian Church and only Met. Onuphry as the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev.
“Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol differentiates his position on the matter of the Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria’s commemoration of the name of Epiphany as bishop of Kiev during the Divine Liturgy in Limassol,” reads the metropolis’ statement.
“He accepts and recognizes his Beatitude Onuphry as the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine,” the statement concludes.
In an interview in June, Met. Athanasios stated:
I believe that Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev is the canonical primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. I want to ask all Orthodox brothers in Ukraine to be under the omophorion of Metropolitan Onuphry, to support his Church, to remain faithful to the Orthodox faith. I understand that they’re going through great temptations. We are very sorry, and we ask forgiveness that every one of us is to some degree a cause of these temptations, but we pray that the Lord would help them pass through these temptations.
I can also say the following. I’m very impressed, and I very much admire how Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev has handled this crisis: with great calmness, with great dignity, with few words, with few statements, and with many prayers.