Cyprus, November 11, 2020
The emblem of the Association of Theologians. Photo: oelmek.com.cy Two organization of Cypriot theologians are calling for a pan-Orthodox conference to be called to deal with the issue of the Ukrainian Church crisis, arguing that no Local Church can address the issue on its own, as it concerns the whole of the Orthodox Church.
In a statement to the Cypriot outlet ΚΥΠΕ, Christakis Efstathiou, the president of the Association of Theologians, noted that it is regrettable that the Church shows division in such a time of many serious challenges. The Church ought to be an image of unity and love, but instead we see bishops “revealing an element of separation and self-destruction,” he said, reports Orthodoxia.info.
The Holy Synod should meet to discuss these issues, focusing on the good of the Church and healing the wounds that have already been inflicted, Efstathiou believes. And even ordinary laymen are calling on the hierarchs “to finally come together and touch upon this great wound that is being created.”
In this way, the Cypriot hierarchs will be able to convey to the whole Church a message of unity, not one of division and egotism. If they can’t get together and discuss these issues and the demands of the simple people, then how can they “deliver a deeper message?” Efstathiou asked.
In turn, George Kyriakou, the president of the Pancyprian Association of Greek Theologians, emphasized that the current division in the Cypriot Church is due to the unilateral decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos to commemorate the schismatic primate Epiphany Dumenko. The only “cure” in this situation is a return to the canonical life of the Church.
Kyriakou expressed his full agreement with Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou, who recognizes His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine as the canonical hierarch of Kiev, who “from the very beginning was recognized as such by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and was not removed for canonical offenses.”
Epiphany Dumenko was suddenly recognized by Pat. Bartholomew for “unknown reasons,” Kyriakou stated, which violates the canons of the Orthodox Church, which do not allow for two metropolitans on the same territory.
In Kyriakou’s view, the problem cannot be solved by the Holy Synod of any Local Church, but only by a pan-Orthodox council, as it “concerns the whole of Orthodoxy.”
The theologians of the Association “are concerned about His Beatitude’s commemoration of the non-canonical Epiphany in circumvention of the Synod,” Kyriakou noted. The Church functions normally only when all Local Churches observe the canons and norms, while the violation of these rules creates “friction and unrest throughout the Church.” Only a return to canonicity can heal the present situation, the theologian added.
No one can simply do whatever they want, he continued, but rather those who do not recognize the rules of Church constitutions and the local and Ecumenical Councils “should be accountable to a pan-Orthodox council.”
In any case, the majority of Local Churches recognize that Epiphany is not a canonical bishop, thus the current unrest is not only in the Church of Cyprus, but in all Local Churches.
The Church has suffered from “the Ukrainian question” for many years, and maybe even decades and centuries, writes another theologian, Theodoros Kyriakou. And Pat. Bartholomew began to work on Ukrainian autocephaly after 2016’s council of Crete because he holds a grudge against the Moscow Patriarchate for not attending the council, the theologian believes.
Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, has also suggested that the Patriarch’s actions in Ukraine are due to his hurt feelings over the Crete Council.
Recall that the Moscow Patriarchate called on Pat. Bartholomew to hold an emergency pre-conciliar session to address the issues expressed by the Bulgarian, Antiochian, and Georgian Churches, but he refused to do so, and convened the Crete Council without the participation of these sister Churches.
Additionally, Pat. Bartholomew was put under “pressure from another country,” and the Ukrainian issue is part of a geopolitical plan, Kyriakou emphasized.
Met. Neophytos of Morphou and other hierarchs of the global Orthodox Church have also noted Pat. Bartholomew’s geopolitical motivations for interfering in Ukraine.
The division in the Church introduced by Pat. Bartholomew granting autocephaly to two schismatic groups is a temptation for the faithful, the theologian lamented. Likewise, Abp. Chrysostomos caused a strong reaction from his brother bishops by commemorating the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko without a Synodal decision.
“A council must be convened so this issue can be discussed in detail,” Theodoros Kyriakou concluded.
Synods, primates, and hierarchs from every Local Church have called on Pat. Bartholomew to convene a council on the Ukrainian issue, but he has consistently refused, as he believes the Churches are simply obligated to accept his decisions.