Tamassos, Cyprus, November 10, 2020
Members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus cannot concelebrate with Archbishop Chrysostomos since he unilaterally decided to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos stated today.
And they cannot concelebrate with him again until the Holy Synod makes a decision on the Ukrainian issue, he explained to the Greek outlet Philenews.
At its most recent sessions, the Holy Synod unanimously called on Abp. Chrysostomos not to begin commemorating the schismatics. Although he promised he wouldn’t, the Archbishop went against his word, explaining that he didn’t tell his brother hierarchs about his decision because he didn’t want to have to tell them in person that he was going to ignore their opinion.
Met. Isaiah emphasized that the Church of Cyprus is facing a potential schism, and it is up to the Archbishop, as primate and author of the present confusion, to neutralize the situation. The primate could convene the Holy Synod to discuss the situation, Met. Isaiah said, recalling that he and three of his brother hierarchs already called on the primate to do so.
Abp. Chrysostomos has said several times that although he intentionally went around the Synodal hierarchs before, he is willing to convene the Synod to discuss the situation if any hierarchs ask him to do so. However, despite the call from Met. Isaiah, Met. Athanasios of Limassol, Met. Nikiforos of Kykkos, and Bp. Nicholas of Amathountos, the Archbishop has claimed that he has received no request to convene the Synod.
And in any case, the Archbishop’s own statements indicate that he is, in fact, only willing to submit issues to the Synod that he knows he can get a majority vote on, Met. Isaiah told the Greek outlet today. But the members of the Synod cannot agree with this individualistic mentality, the hierarch of Tamassos commented.
Met. Isaiah and the three hierarchs earlier wrote of the Archbishop “ignoring and despising his own Holy Synod.”
The Metropolitan also believes the Archbishop’s decision is connected with future archepiscopal elections. Creating bipartisanship in the Church creates a pool of voters who will judge not on any real theological or spiritual data, but rather on the basis of how they will be painted by others.
“It’s purely a matter of tactics. That’s what I personally believe,” Met. Isaiah said.
Regarding concelebrations, Met. Isaiah explained that he cannot serve with Abp. Chrysostomos as he commemorates Epiphany Dumenko, who was never actually consecrated or ordained in the Orthodox Church.
In February 2019, the Cypriot Synod stated: “The 2,000-year experience of the Church of Cyprus, and the entire Orthodox Church, gives us reason to doubt the possibility of retroactively recognizing consecrations celebrated by suspended, excommunicated, or anathematized bishops. The suspension, excommunication, and anathematization of several people who initiated the Ukrainian crisis were recognized by all Orthodox.”
It is unclear if Met. Isaiah was speaking only for himself, or referring to other Synod members as well, as Philenews reports his words both ways.
And responding to Abp. Chrysostomos’ invitation to Dumenko to visit and serve in Cyprus, the Metropolitan clearly stated that he also will not serve with him or anyone else from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and that he cannot allow them in his Metropolis.
While Abp. Chrysostomos has accused Met. Isaiah and the other hierarchs who appealed to him regarding the present situation of selfishness and irresponsibility, the Metropolitan of Tamassos clarified that his stance is not a manifestation of whim or selfishness, but an unwillingness to contradict his own episcopal conscience.
Asked what stance the Church of Cyprus should take, the Metropolitan said that although he personally disagrees with it, it would be preferable to continue its previous neutrality to allow more time to find an acceptable solution.
Met. Isaiah earlier referred to the Archbishop’s unilateral decision as “cunning, suspicious, and catastrophic. The primate fired back that Met. Isaiah is too young to criticize him. In response, Metropolitans Isaiah and Nikiforos lamented that such derogatory insults and a papist way of governing the Church are unbecoming of an Orthodox hierarch.