Tamassos, Cyprus, October 29, 2020
“We are living through one of the worst institutional crises in the history of the Church. We are living in a schism caused by the act of His Beatitude,” His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos said on Cypriot television today, commenting on Archbishop Chrysostomos’ decision to liturgically commemorate and thereby enter into communion with the schismatics of Ukraine led by Epiphany Dumenko.
Met. Isaiah was among the four hierarchs who issued an appeal to the Archbishop on Saturday, imploring him to respect the conciliar character of the Church and revoke his unilateral decision.
His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who was among the co-authors of the appeal, also revealed that not only did Abp. Chrysostomos decide to recognize the schismatics without a vote from the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, but he thereby broke his promise to the Synod that he would not do so.
In Met. Isaiah’s estimation, the Archbishop’s decision is cunning, suspicious, and catastrophic, reports Romfea.
“It is cunning because His Beatitude knows that we cannot attend a meeting that will legitimize this decision, if he does not revoke it first. He knows it; he knows the rules of the Church. That’s why it’s cunning,” His Eminence commented strongly.
The Archbishop’s decision is suspicious, Met. Isaiah says, because the issue of recognizing the OCU was twice raised before the Holy Synod, but the proposal was withdrawn and the hierarchs resolved to maintain a neutral stance. This neutral stance would allow the Church of Cyprus to act as a mediator in the dispute, Met. Isaiah explained.
Abp. Chrysostomos earlier took up this mediatorial role and met with several of his brother primates, imploring them not to make any unilateral decisions. However, he gave up this work, he explained, because it angered Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Met. Isaiah also referred to the nationalistic fervor that fuels the OCU and its supporters and paints the present crisis as a battle of Russians vs. Greeks: “The enemies of the Church now paint us as Russophiles, Americanophiles; they have involved us in geopolitical interests that don’t concern us. The Gospel and its truth, concerns us. We are concerned with everyday people, with problems. We are concerned with a thousand and two things that have to do with the values of life and that is what we need to pay attention to.”
And the Archbishop’s decision is catastrophic because it causes a division, annulling the ancient synodal institution. The Synod cannot convene under a regime of blackmail, of an already implemented and imposed ecclesiastically illegal act, he concluded.
Similarly, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkou, another co-author of Saturday’s appeal, stated in his own comments that Synods do not exist to rubber stamp the arbitrary decisions of their primates, but to make decisions in advance.
In July of last year, Met. Isaiah, together with Met. Athanasios and Met. Nikiforos, was forced to issue a communique refuting fake news that they had recognized the OCU. “We remain, as before, of the opinion that the granting of the tomos of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine should have been in accordance with the canons and traditions of the Church, and Church order is the only thing that can resolve the problem that has arisen and prevent the risk of schism,” they wrote.
Last November, a monastic conference was held in Cyprus with the cooperation of the Russian Church which angered Abp. Chrysostmos, who publicly accused Mets. Isaiah, Athanasios, and Nikiforos of violating the Church of Cyprus’ neutral stance.
However, as the metropolitans note, the Church’s neutral stance does not mean that individual hierarchs are not allowed to have an voice opinions, but that the Cypriot Church as a whole will not break Communion with either the Russian or Constantinopolitan Churches.
The metropolitans also note that while the Archbishop reproached 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 actually concelebrated with a “hierarch” of the disputed OCU in Constantinople.