On Saturday, October 24, 2020 Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus made the unilateral decision to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” thus becoming the third Orthodox primate besides Patriarch Bartholomew to commemorate the schismatics.
Like Patriarch Theodoros before him, Archbishop Chrysostomos has claimed that his decision will be for the good of Orthodoxy, though it remains unclear how any good came from Patriarch Theodoros’ decision.
Later that same day, Metropolitan Athanasios, together with three other hierarchs of the Cypriot Church, Metropolitans Nikiforos of Kykkos and Isaiah of Tamassos (who have already outspokenly supported the canonical Ukrainian Church over and against the schismatics), and Bishop Nicholas of Amathountos, appealed to Archbishop Chrysostomos to immediately revoke his anti-canonical and invalid decision to include the name of Epiphany Dumenko in the diptychs of the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches.
In their appeal, they reaffirm the stance that Patriarch Bartholomew and the other primates who have accepted the schismatics have acted arbitrarily and anti-canonically in Ukraine and only threaten greater disunity and schism in the Church, given that Ukraine is the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and notably, they write that the Moscow Patriarchate is justified in interrupting Eucharistic communion with those who enter into communion with the schismatics.
With great concern, but also with the deepest sorrow, we were informed of the commemoration of the “primate of the Ukrainian Church” Epiphany by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus today, Saturday, October 24, 2020, during the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Chrysoroyiatissa, where the God-beloved Bishop Pankratios of Arsinoe was consecrated.
1. The act of the Archbishop constitutes a blatant violation of the synodal, conciliar, and democratic structure of our Orthodox Church and the functioning of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus based on this system.
2. This question was raised by His Beatitude at a recent session of the Holy Synod (September 9, 2020), and it was decided then to consider it at another meeting, to hear the views and positions of all members of the Holy Synod and make a synodal decision on this issue.
3. The recent appointment of Epiphany as the “Primate of the Ukrainian Church” by His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew has caused turmoil in the Orthodox Church, and to date, only the Greek Church and the Alexandrian Patriarchate, for reasons not related to this present consideration, have recognized him. All the other Local Orthodox Churches have a negative stance towards the issue. (It should be noted here that during the “ordination” of this Epiphany, not a single representative of the Local Orthodox Churches was present, with all the ensuing consequences.)
4. The one proclaimed “primate” of the Ukrainian Church by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has no canonical ordination, and this is because he comes from the schismatic groups of the Ukrainian Church. If His All-Holiness the Patriarch truly desired to follow the canonical procedure for granting autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, then he should have granted autocephaly to the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev, Onuphry, for which he should have obtained the consent of the Moscow Patriarchate, to which he [Metropolitan Onuphry—Trans.] submits, as well as the consent of the Local Orthodox primates.
5. The act of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of granting “autocephaly” to the schismatic structures of the Ukrainian Church is an arbitrary, anti-canonical, and anti-ecclesiastical action in the sense that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and this autocephaly constitutes, as said above, interference within the jurisdiction of the said Patriarchate. In this regard, the Russian Church, reacting, justifiably interrupted Church communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and also with the Churches of Greece and Alexandria.
6. Granting autocephaly is conceivable and possible, according to the Sacred Canons and practice of our Church, only with the prior approval of the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches. In this case, the Ecumenical Patriarch, despite the content of the Sacred Canons and Church Tradition, and contradicting his earlier statements on this issue, acted unilaterally and arbitrarily. And, unfortunately, the primate of the Cypriot Church has followed this example, ignoring and despising his own Holy Synod.
7. The Archbishop of Cyprus’ decision to commemorate Epiphany as the “primate of the Ukrainian Church” further exacerbates the tense situation between the Orthodox Churches, threatens to increase the schism in universal Orthodoxy, and recklessly integrates the Church of Cyprus into this climate [of schism—Trans.].
8. We call upon His Beatitude to immediately revoke this anti-canonical and invalid act, and at the same time, we ask all of our bishops of the Cypriot Church to jointly demand the convocation of an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod to make an appropriate decision.
9. Finally, we must also emphasize the untimely nature of our primate’s actions, given the critical times we are going through, as far as our national issue is concerned, but also the threatening actions of the Turkish expansionist policy, which threatens to diminish our nation.
We testify to all the above in good faith, aware of our hierarchical conscience and our sacred duty to preserve the canonical order and unity of the Church in order to avoid the deadly sin of schism, for according to St. John Chrysostom, “no blood can wash away this sin.”
Nicosia, October 24, 2020