Kykkos, Cyprus, November 13, 2020
His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus has published a book examining the burning Ukrainian issue from the point of view of the sacred canons of the Church, reports Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations.
The book, The Modern Ukrainian Question and its Solution According to the Divine and Sacred Canons, examines several questions:
Which Patriarchate’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction does Ukraine belong to?
Who has the right to grant autocephaly and under what conditions?
Does the Ecumenical Patriarchate have the canonical right to accept appeals from clerics outside its jurisdiction?
Who is the head of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?
Met. Nikiforos is one of the Cypriot hierarchs who vocally supports the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and vocally denounces Archbishop Chrysostomos’ unilateral decision to enter into communion with the Ukrainian schismatics.
In February 2019, the Cypriot Holy Synod issued a very diplomatic statement on the Ukrainian issue that was hard on the Russian Church but without openly criticizing any of Constantinople’s actions. That same day, Met. Nikiforos published his own statement, much more direct about the errors of Constantinople in Ukraine.
There he notes that Patriarch Bartholomew had no canonical right to lift the anathema against Philaret and to create a new “autocephalous” church on the territory of the UOC. This shows the Patriarch’s contemptuous disregard for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, Met. Nikiforos wrote at that time.
Constantinople only aggravated the schism in Ukraine, he writes, and its actions should be discussed at a pan-Orthodox council.
In his homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy that year, Met. Nikiforos emphasized that Constantinople’s unlawful actions have poisoned inter-Orthodox relations and harmed the entire Body of Christ.
In his talk at the Monasticism and the Contemporary World conference held with representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian Churches in November 2019, again referred to the “non-canonical decision of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, to recognize the schismatic Church of Kiev and to grant so-called ‘autocephaly’ to Ukraine, apart from unanimous canonical tradition and timeless ecclesiastical practice.”
We must “overcome impermissible egoism, stubbornness and lust for power, and begin a fraternal pan-Orthodox dialogue in order to overcome the current crisis that threatens the unity of Orthodoxy,” he emphasized.
Together with three of his brother hierarchs, Met. Nikiforos also expressed indignation at the Archbishop’s unilateral and ill-conceived decision to begin commemorating the schismatics last month, noting that autocephaly must be granted synodally. Importantly, the hierarchs also spoke of the Moscow Patriarchate’s break in communion with Constantinople as a justifiable reaction.
When the sacred canons are violated, the hierarchs must speak up, His Eminence has emphasized.
In another statement, the Met. Nikiforos and the other three hierarchs reminded Pat. Bartholomew that he has primacy of responsibility, not of power.