Cyprus, September 15, 2020
Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa is currently in the midst of a week-long visit to Cyprus, where he is meeting with a number of state and Church personalities.
The Patriarch’s last visit to Cyprus came in November, when he broke his promise to His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol that he wouldn’t commemorate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” during the Divine Liturgy. He first commemorated the schismatic just before his trip to Cyprus, although he had previously supported the canonical Church in Ukraine, going so far as to visit Ukraine as a show of support and solidarity for the Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
Although the Cypriot Church has not taken an official stance regarding the OCU, Met. Athanasios himself is very vocally against recognition of the schismatics. The Cypriot primate, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos has cautioned that a consensus decision needs to be made, that any unilateral actions will only further damage Church unity.
Thus, it did not go unnoticed by Orthodox media that the Patriarch’s published agenda for the current trip did not include an official visit to Abp. Chrysostomos as the primate of the Cypriot Orthodox Church.
The two primates did end up meeting, however, when Pat. Theodoros visited Metropolitan George of Paphos. According to the pro-Constantinople outlet Orthodox Times, Met. George received the Alexandrian primate “in the presence of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus.”
The Orthodox Telegram channel Pravblog comments: “That is, the meeting with the primate of the Cypriot Church was put in second place after meeting with one of his hierarchs.”
“It looks a little strange,” the Pravblog journalists continue. “Considering that there was no announcement of a planned meeting of Pat. Theodoros with the Cypriot primate, it’s quite possible that Archbishop Chrysostomos went to Paphos of his own initiative, so as not to lose control of the situation.”
Pat. Theodoros met with Abp. Chrysostomos and the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem in Cyprus in April 2019 to discuss the Ukrainian issue and other topics. The four primates pledged to continue working together for the good of Church unity. However, it was just a few months later that Pat. Theodoros unilaterally decided to begin commemorating the Ukrainian schismatics.
Further, it is noticeable that Pat. Theodoros has not served Liturgy in any churches of the Cypriot Orthodox Church since his trip began a few days ago. He did celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Cross, though in a representation church of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Cyprus. He concelebrated with two of his own bishops who are accompanying him.
And according to Orthodox journalist Alexander Voznesensky, who provided on-the-scene reporting during the Patriarch’s previous visit, the Alexandrian primate has not been invited to serve Liturgy at all during his trip.
As the site of the Cypriot Church reports, he will serve Vespers in a monastery of the Tamassos Diocese on the eve of his departure, but as Voznesenky learned from clergy of the diocese, Pat. Theodoros will not serve the Divine Liturgy, and thus there will be no question of whom he will commemorate.
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamasos is also vocally against recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics.
“It is more than likely that this is a kind of response to the boorish act that Theodoros committed during the last visit, when he deceptively commemorated schismatics despite the requests of the host party not to do so,” Voznesensky comments.