Cyprus, November 4, 2020
Despite the attempts of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus to intimidate and shame them into silence, Metropolitans Athanasios of Limassol, Nikiforos of Kykkos, and Isaiah of Tamassos, and Bishop Nicholas of Amathountos, have issued another statement, this time to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
The four hierarchs addressed the Archbishop on October 24, the same day that he first commemorated the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko, imploring him to revoke and reconsider this unilateral decision that represented a violation of the synodal character of the Church and the Archbishop’s own promise to the Holy Synod.
The Archbishop responded by accusing the hierarchs of conspiring against him and forming a “parasynagogue” to feed their own selfish and irresponsible ends.
And speaking to the Cypriot channel RIK recently on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of his enthronement as Patriarch of Constantinople, Pat. Bartholomew took the opportunity to address the Ukrainian issue and accuse the four hierarchs of serving not Orthodox unity, but rather being indifferent to it for the sake of “other expediencies,” that is, of serving Russia.
Met. Isaiah of Tamassos already responded to accusations concerning Russia in his own open letter.
“With great respect we express our sorrow for your reference to us” and the accusation that disagreeing with the primate is an indication of serving other masters, the hierarchs open their letter to the Patriarch.
Thus, they ask the Patriarch: “Do we, after all, have the right, as members of the Holy Synod of the autocephalous Church of Cyprus, to freely and fearlessly express our views, even if they differ from the views of our other brothers?”
Is it acceptable and in accordance with the synodal system of the Church that hierarchs should be insulted with profanity and offensive expressions if they have a different opinion than their primate, they also ask.
And further: “Is it right that the Holy Synod makes a completely unanimous decision on a serious issue and the primate ignores and cancels the decision of the entire Holy Synod and proceeds in a completely different way?”
What happened to the 34th Canon of the Holy Apostles, they ask, which stipulates that a primate must act with his Synod and the Synod with its primate, “for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.”
Regarding the accusation that the hierarchs have other loyalties that undermine their role as hierarchs, they write: “We believe that our presence and service in the most holy Church so far testifies to the quality of our entire ministry and to the integrity of our morals.”
And to the Patriarch’s statement that “Ukrainian autocephaly is a finalized ecclesiastical event” and that “the only ecclesiologically consistent attitude” is for all Orthodox primates to recognize it, the hierarchs respond that they cannot agree, as not a single primate was present at the enthronement of Epiphany Dumenko as primate of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and that only two Churches have since recognized the OCU.
Moreover, the recognition of Epiphany Dumenko by Abp. Chrysostomos was an “arbitrary and illegal act,” the hierarchs write.
Further, they remind Pat. Bartholomew that to be Ecumenical Patriarch is to be “First Among Equals.” “This primacy is not a ‘primacy of power,’ but a ‘primacy of responsibility and service’ for the unity of Orthodoxy, and for the correctness of faith and love,” they state.
Finally, the hierarchs remind the Patriarch that “the Ecumenical Patriarch is and always should be the eternal guardian and guarantor of both the canonical order and the true functioning of the Orthodox synodal and hierarchical system. Its special task is to coordinate the Orthodox Churches on critical issues of inter-Orthodox interest.”
In his statement to RIK, Pat. Bartholomew also stated that “the denial of dialogue … favors the development of fundamentalist tendencies in the body of Orthodoxy.” Recall that Synods, primates, and hierarchs from every Local Church have called on the Patriarch to convene a pan-Orthodox council of a Synaxis of the primates precisely to discuss the Ukrainian issue, but he has thus far refused.
He also denounced and refused to attend the fraternal gathering with his fellow Orthodox primates and hierarchs held by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Amman, Jordan, in the spring.