By his self-willed and unexpected action, Archbishop Chrysostom of Cyprus has recognized the schismatic “Archbishop” of Ukraine, Ephiphany. This took place during the consecration of Bishop Pangratios of Arsinoe on October 24, 2020 in the monastery of the Chrysorrogiatissa Mother of God, where the newly-consecrated bishop is also the abbot. Without previously informing a single bishop, to the great and unpleasant astonishment of the entire episcopate who took part in the Divine Liturgy and consecration, at the Great Entrance the Archbishop commemorated Epiphany. The deacon also repeated the commemoration at the proclamation of the dyptichs.
By recognizing the schismatic archbishop of Ukraine, the Archbishop of Cyprus has completely ignored conciliar order and trampled upon the sacred canons. On the day before, Friday, October 23, in the afternoon he presided over a session of the Holy Synod. His Beatitude Chrysostom made no announcement whatsoever, not even hints as to what he would do the next day. At the session the bishop of Arsinoe was appointed, followed by the offer of the traditional repast. And during it, as well as during non-protocol conversations the archbishop said nothing about it.
The first protests against the archbishop’s action have already come about. In their general announcement, Metropolitans Niceforos of Kykkos and Tellyria, Athansios of Limassol, Isaiah of Tamassos, and Bishop Nicholaos of Amathountos emphasized that by his action the archbishop of Cyprus has violated conciliar order. They called upon him to revoke his anti-canonical and ineffective action and to call an extraordinary session of the Synod to discuss the matter. The 34th apostolic canon forces any primate of the Church to “never take any actions without the knowledge of his brother bishops”; and the 37th obligates the synod of bishops to “assemble at a meeting, discuss the dogmas of piety, and resolve ecclesiastical disagreements that have arisen.”
But the question remains open: For what reason did the Archbishop of Cyprus, who until Saturday, October 24, 2020 called for discernment, nobility, and responsibility in both ecclesiastical matters and national issues, decide to take this anti-ecclesiastical step? At the Synod meeting of September 9, His Beatitude Chrysostomos gave a speech on the recognition of Epiphany as the primate of the schismatic church in Ukraine; but afterwards, when the metropolitans reasonably explained what consequences this would lead to for the Orthodox Church and for the Republic of Cyprus, it was resolved to discuss this matter more broadly at the next Synod meeting. However, instead of a Synod meeting there came the Archbishop’s unilateral recognition of the schismatic “church”, without any prior notification to the Synod members.
The Archbishop of Cyprus has compromised himself with the announcement he made after recognizing Epiphany. He agreed that all this time he had not recognized him and that along with the Archbishop of Albania had taken upon himself the mission of intermediary in order to resolve the question of schism, which has arisen due to the Phanar’s recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics. In this announcement the archbishop pronounced these significant words: “I had the intention of observing neutrality in this dispute (between the Constantinople and Moscow Patriarchates.—Ed.).” The intermediary efforts did not go far due to the Archbishop’s increasing health issues, but he himself remained firm in his opinion of preserving neutrality in this dispute, and supported the call for a Pan-Orthodox Council of primates in order to resolve the Ukrainian problem. But in approximately two years he changed his opinion and came to the conclusion that in this dispute it is necessary to occupy a position (?) in favor of the Phanar, moreover without making this known to the members of his Holy Synod.
Besides the archbishop’s trampling upon the canons, a most serious moral question should also be placed on the agenda. First of all, the Archbishop of Cyprus himself has said in private discussions that Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill should renounce their own egoism and take care for the good of the Church. Today he has shown that he supports the egoism of the Ecumenical Patriarch… And secondly, in 2018 the Church of Cyprus participated in the solemnities for the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ in the waters of the Dniepr that were organized by the Russian Church, and Archbishop Chrysostom of Cyprus sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in which he stated that “in the ecclesiastical regard, Kiev should never be separated from Moscow.” What has happened to make him compromise himself today with his own inconsistency?!
In the Orthodox Church we have the sacred canons, the Truth, Righteousness, Love—not tendentiousness. By his action, the Archbishop is only intensifying the impression that the Ecumenical Patriarch is cruelly oppressing the Orthodox world with the help of the USA and his “obedients”—the primates of the Greek Orthodox Churches. To this day, the schismatic Epiphany has only been recognized by Greek primates: the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Archbishops of Cyprus and Greece. To their honor, the Greek primates of Jerusalem and Albania have been consistent in the canonical regard.
Until Saturday, October 24, 2020, throughout his archbishopric His Beatitude Chrysostom has always acted in Church matters with an eye on the Church’s benefit, without forgetting about the national question. The question of the “Orthodox church of Ukraine” is essentially a geopolitical question, and until October 24, 2020 the Archbishop of Cyprus did not wish to follow the Ecumenical Patriarch in recognizing Epiphany. He knows that in the Phanar’s opinion, it is in his interests to align himself with the geopolitical interests of the Vatican, the USA, and the EU, but also that this logic doesn’t work for Cyprus.
His Beatitude Chrysostomos also knows very well that the Republic of Cyprus in its national problem has to preserve a balance and uphold good relations with both the West and with Russia. He also knows that if the Republic of Cyprus remains an independent nation and equal member of the EU, then this is owing to Russia. In 2004, as the Metropolitan of Paphos, the current Archbishop governed the Synod of the Church of Cyprus due to the illness of the Archbishop of the time. And then, in his letter to Patriarch Alexiy of Moscow he asked him to intercede before President Putin for Russia to veto the United Nations, so that that organization would not accept as its official resolution the Kofi Annan plan,1 which the great sovereign nations of the West were pushing. And Russia did in fact place a veto on that document. And when the ever-memorable President Tassos Papadoupolos of Cyprus came to Moscow to receive the prize granted to him, he thanked the Russian president for the position he had taken in the UN and in fact in general against the Annan plan, to which President Putin replied, “We heeded our Church, which heard and united itself with your Church”.
A delicate balance and particular caution must be observed in our national question in order to avoid catastrophe. The action of the Archbishop of Cyprus on October 24, 2020 has seriously baffled all those who are watching Turkey’s aggressive motions toward Cyprus, and who would like to have the support of all nations, independent of any disagreements between them.