In connection with Archbishop Chrysostomos’ decision to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” first commemorating Epiphany Dumenko on October 24, and his subsequent comments on the issue, the Russian Orthodox Church republished the text of his address sent to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in 2018 on the occasion of the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, in which he promised that the Church of Cyprus would never cease to support the Russian Church in its “fair” and “justified” position on the Ukrainian issue.
We still remember the indelible impressions of our trip to your great country last December when we celebrated the restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Church with great splendor. We experienced your great hospitality and felt the love and pride of the Russian people for their Church.
And today, we are also participants in another great joy of the celebration of the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’. We personally feel immeasurable joy because God vouchsafed us to take part in similar celebrations dedicated both to the 1,000th and the 1,025th anniversaries of this unique event. The great events of history tower as bright beacons in the memory of peoples, and gazing upon them with hope, the people draw inspiration, an example, new moral light, and new spiritual strength.
And this year, the Church of Cyprus, represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Georgios of Paphos and Archimandrite Stylianos (Stylianou) are participating in these celebrations and wish the historically younger but larger Russian Church the blessing of the Lord in all things, to the glory of God worshiped in Trinity and of holy Orthodoxy.
Truly great is this event being celebrated! And not just for the Russian Church and the people of God who live there, but for all Orthodoxy and the entire Church of Christ. Once the Christian truth was grafted onto the good Russian olive tree, the Russian people acquired a lasting connection unique in its significance and proved capable of great deeds. They created a new civilization, transmitting the Christian truth to other peoples as well. Abiding with Christ, the Russian people understood that history is the fulfillment of Divine goals and has a Divine purpose: the transfiguration of the world by the life “in Christ” and the establishment of the Kingdom of God over all. And this truth inspired them on their continuing path until this very day. However, this event is also important for the entire Orthodox world. Without the Russian people, we Orthodox would be a small minority amidst other Christians. And if not for your great and glorious country, then what protection would we, all the others, feel in harsh and difficult times? The adoption of Orthodoxy by Rus’ changed the course of history.
The act of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir had a decisive influence on the fate of the Russian people. His name reverently echoes throughout the entire Christian world. The traces of his deeds are indelibly imprinted in the hearts of all Russian Orthodox Christians, and his glory shines throughout this great country, confirming the notion that we can successfully turn to the future only in the case of original personalities gifted with ingenuity, and also thanks to the voice and deeds of genuine leaders. And it was precisely this act that led to this Local Church becoming autocephalous and then acquiring the status of a Patriarchate. We realize the meaning of this act and fully understand the special feeling of the pious Russian people and its episcopate toward the place of this mass Baptism which became the maternal womb that bore the Russian Church.
And that is why the Church of Cyprus will never back down from its position that we have repeatedly articulated to you, that is, that it will support the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the issue of the so-called autocephaly in Ukraine with all its might. It considers this position fair and wholly justified. That is where your spiritual roots are to be found, and you must not tear yourselves away from them. In this matter, we Cypriots especially understand you, beholding the tomb and Monastery of the Apostle Barnabas, the founder of our Church, which are inaccessible to us because of the Turkish invasion. The main reason we were so quick to respond to your invitation to participate in these events was to assure you again of the immutability of our position.
Throughout the more than 1,000-year history of your Church, you have, naturally, experienced both days of celebration and days of persecution, and have passed honour and dishonour (2 Cor. 6:8). But periods of sorrow are more frequent for the entire Church. The Church has never said that the spiritual life is easy. And Christ warned us about this, that the strait is the gate, and narrow is the way (Mt. 7:14), which, nevertheless, leads to eternity. But despite the difficulties, Christ surely means to transfigure man—from a mixture of the mortal, to transform him into the power of the resurrection.
And today, in this world of alienation and disarray that gives rise to a state of oppression, when spiritual indifference is poured out all around us, history again charges the Orthodox Church with a unique role: to serve as the salt of the earth and the light of the world; to spiritually withstand the well-known phenomena of our time, such as globalization, nationalism, technology, and advances in the industry of spectacles; and to give its spiritual response, leading the world to salvation in Christ. Together, we are called to respond to this call of history.
Congratulating you again with this momentous anniversary in the religious life of the pious Russian people and confirming the identity of the position of the Cypriot Church with your position on the Ukrainian issue, we remain
With love in the Lord,
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus
In the Holy Archdiocese of Cyprus, July 26, 2018