Limassol, Cyprus, December 18, 2019
In a recent interview, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus accused three of his own metropolitans of violating the Cypriot Church’s neutral stance on the Ukrainian issue by voicing their own personal opinions on the matter and organizing a monastic conference with the Russian Church.
The three Cypriot hierarchs, Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol, Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, and Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos, responded in a joint statement published on Romfea, noting that Abp. Chrysostomos criticizes only some bishops and not others.
The respected hierarchs begin by noting that they understood the Cypriot Church’s neutral stance to mean that they would continue to maintain Eucharist and liturgical communion with both the Russian and Constantinopolitan Churches.
Abp. Chrysostomos, on the other hand, accused them of violating neutrality by voicing their own opinions as hierarchs of the Church, though the hierarchs have not claimed to be speaking on behalf of the entire Cypriot Church.
Note that Met. Athanasius, for example, has concelebrated both with Patriarch Theodoros after he officially recognized the Ukrainian schismatics and with hierarchs of the Russian Church at the recent monastic conference, thus, maintaining Eucharistic communion with both sides in the dispute.
Further, the metropolitans write that the “neutrality” referred to by their primate “refers to the problem that arose due to the decision to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, contrary to the sacred canons and existing Church order.”
They further note that Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” was non-canonically ordained and that the Church in Ukraine is canonically part of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Synodal statement itself, to which Abp. Chrysostomos refers, notes that the clergy of the OCU do not have true ordinations and thus it is unclear how they can constitute a Church.
The metropolitans also note that while the Archbishop reproaches them for organizing a monastic conference with the Russian Church, not a word was spoken about the fact that Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos of the Cypriot Church recently concelebrated with Patriarch Bartholomew and a “hierarch” of the disputed OCU in Constantinople.
“Is this, Your Beatitude, a violation of the ‘neutrality’ of the decision of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus on the issue in question?” the hierarchs ask.
In addition, the hierarchs stress that the monastic conference organized with the participation of the Russian Church, held on November 28 and 29, was planned as a continuation of a similar conference held the year before. Therefore, “we wonder how it is related to the decision of the Holy Synod on our neutrality in the Ukrainian crisis,” they write.
In his interview, Abp. Chrysostomos also characterized both Patriarchs Kirill and Bartholomew as egotists and accused Pat. Kirill of leading the Church towards a schism by ceasing to commemorate Patriarchs Bartholomew and Theodoros of Alexandria and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, who have entered into communion with the Ukrainian schismatics. The Archbishop also voiced the oft-repeated claim from the Greek Orthodox world that Pat. Kirill wants to take the place of Pat. Bartholomew as Ecumenical Patriarch.