Nicosia, Cyprus, December 16, 2019
The Russian Holy Synod’s decision for His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to cease commemorating Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens for their support of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” is leading towards a schism, and Pat. Kirill will never be the first primate in the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus said in a recent interview with Politis.
He also leveled serious criticism against several Cypriot hierarchs who have expressed their personal stance on the Ukrainian issue.
It is notable that Politis is the same outlet that recently tried to embroil Abp. Chrysostomos in a financial scandal stemming from events from several years ago, even launching a petition against him addressed to the Prosecutor General of Cyprus.
Representatives of the Russian Church have been sent to speak to Abp. Chrysostomos on Pat. Kirill’s behalf, the Cypriot primate says, but it did not achieve the desired end:
He has sent people to tell me that he supposedly wants me by his side. And I reply, “I do not support what you are doing.” We stop commemorating those who deviate from the Orthodox faith and I ask you, “Are the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Athens, and the Patriarch of Alexandria heretics, and thus you stopped commemorating them?” That is simply not possible. You have the right to protest that they shouldn’t have done this. You have the right to disagree, to say you are wrong. Yes, you have the right to say so. But to break communion? Not to concelebrate? We only do not serve with heretics. Your actions are simply unacceptable.
Moreover, Abp. Chrysostomos believes that Pat. Kirill wants to be the First Among Equals, though this will never happen.
“He is leading towards a schism, and schism is the greatest sin. I don’t understand. He wants to be first, but I told him he would not be first: ‘The past 17 centuries have secured the first place in the Orthodox world for Constantinople. That’s it. Don’t deceive. Understand this.’ But his egotism prevents him from doing so,” Abp. Chrysostomos said.
The Cypriot primate also harshly criticized three metropolitans in his own Church for speaking out against Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine:
At the Synod I said that we will not take a position either in favor of Moscow or in favor of Constantinople,” Abp. Chrysostomos noted. “I want us to stay neutral so we can help. They both need help. They are egotists and can hardly reconcile themselves… Therefore, I told all the clerics not to make any statements. Sit still, because statements that concern the Church, which is immortal, will remain forever if they are mistaken… The Metropolitan of Kykkos, and the Metropolitan of Tamassos, and the Metropolitan of Limassol spoke in vain. Brothers, be still. Once the Synod has made a decision, respect it.
“Although the Holy Synod was convened and decided to remain neutral on the Ukrainian autocephaly issue, now they organize a conference with the Russians and they speak to the conference and take a position against the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” Abp. Chrysostomos added, referring to the recent conference, “Monasticism and the Contemporary World,” held in Kykkos, at which Metropolitan Nikephoros spoke about the actions of Pat. Bartholomew in Ukraine as “non-canonical” and leading towards a schism.
In July, the three Metropolitans mentioned by Abp. Chrysostomos issued a joint communiqué refuting Ukrainian fake news that they and the Cypriot Church had recognized the OCU schismatics. Rather, they clarified, they respect the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate but are deeply concerned about what it has done in Ukraine.
The Holy Synod of the Cypriot Church issued a statement on the Ukrainian crisis in February which, while not recognizing the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” did not offer any substantial critiques of Pat. Bartholomew’s actions.
The same day, Met. Nikephoros published his own statement on Romfea that was of a markedly different tone and character. In it, he strongly asserted that it is impermissible to have Eucharist communion with the unordained schismatics of the OCU, which contrasts with Abp. Chrysostomos’ statement that we refrain from serving only with heretics.
It was later revealed that Met. Athanasius had not signed the Synodal statement as he disagreed with it in several points, though he does respect it as a position of the Synod. The three Metropolitans have not presented their positions as being in any way an official position of the Cypriot Church.