Nicosia, Cyprus, November 25, 2020
The Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus held its second session today to discuss Archbishop Chrysostomos’ unilateral decision to recognize and enter into communion with the Ukrainian schismatics, which caused a serious scandal in the Cypriot Church.
After thoroughly discussing the issue on Monday and today, the Synod issued a weakly-worded statement dealing only with the Archbishop’s actions. The stance of the Church of Cyprus as a whole towards the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” remains unclear, based on the current reporting.
At its meetings on November 23 and 25, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus discussed in detail the Ukrainian Church issue and the problematic situation that arose with the commemoration Epiphany as primate of the Church of Ukraine by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos, and decided not to oppose this decision of His Beatitude.
At the same time, the Holy Synod expects a broader discussion in which all will participate to overcome the current crisis, which threatens to split the Church of Christ.
The official statement seems to indicate that the Synod essentially voted to allow the Archbishop personally to do as he will, although it continues to threaten a schism in the Church.
However, His Eminence Nikiforos of Kykkos reports that the Synod in fact voted 10-7 in favor of the proposal of Metropolitan George of Paphos on recognizing Epiphany Dumenko as the hierarch of Kiev and All Ukraine, whereas his own compromise proposal was rejected.
The Metropolitan maintains, however, that the vote is not binding, because this is not merely an administrative matter, but a matter of faith.
“The decision does not bind us. We have examples in Orthodoxy where only one disagreed and was acquitted afterwards: St. Mark Evgenikos. He disagreed and did not sign the minutes of the council, although everyone else signed. History justified him and in 1484 the Ferrara-Florence Synod was annulled and Mark Evgenikos emerged as a saint of our Church,” said the Metropolitan.
However, Met. George of Paphos then responded that this is not a matter of faith, and the Synod’s decision is in fact binding.
In his own presentation during the Synod sessions, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos stated that he could not accept any solution that involved recognizing Epiphany Dumenko and his schismatic OCU.
Greek media is already reporting on the outcome of the Synod sessions as a “schism,” which could explain the non-committal official communique. Surely the Archbishop does not want “to go down in the history of his Church as a person who, in order to recognize the schism in Ukraine, brought his own Church to a state of schism,” comments Orthodox analyst Alexander Voznesensky.