Nicosia, Cyprus, November 30, 2020
Archbishop Chrysostomos’ instability, volatility, and unpredictability have created a heartbreaking situation in the Church of Cyprus today, and “That's why I'm worried about what the next day will bring,” writes the Cypriot Doctor of Theology Andreas N. Papavassiliou in an article published by Romfea.
Recalling Metropolitan George of Paphos’ statement following Wednesday’s session of the Cypriot Holy Synod that “the decisions of the Holy Synod are binding for all, whether taken by majority or unanimity,” Papvassiliou notes that it is inconsistent for the Metropolitan to invoke this principle only in relation to the most recent Synodal decision.
The principle articulated by Met. George must also apply to the Synodal decisions of February 2019 and September 2020, “which provide for the diligent observance of the neutrality of the Church of Cyprus on the thorny issue of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” and which remained in force when the Synod met last week, the theologian argues.
However, without addressing and amending these previous decisions, the Synod simply issued a verbally and theologically ambiguous new statement on “not opposing” the Archbishop’s decision recognize the Ukrainian schismatics.
But how binding is this ambiguous statement when the previous statements are still in force, Papvassiliou wonders. Further, how binding is the recognition of the schismatics, given that it’s not even a Synodal decision at all, but only a decision of the primate?
Many are now wondering why the Synodal statement was formulated so obscurely, the theologian writes, for “In no case does ‘non-opposition’ mean consent and acceptance.”
Recalling the Archbishop’s threat to defrock any hierarchs who refuse to concelebrate with him because he commemorates a schismatic, Dr. Papvassilious writes: “From this alone, it seems that there is a need to devote some time to the study of Ecclesiastical History and Canon Law,” for “He has obviously misunderstood his capacity as Archbishop.”
“The current situation in the Church of Cyprus is heartbreaking. Just as the Archbishop himself is unpredictable and unstable-volatile, so are his thoughts and actions. That’s why I’m worried about what the next day will bring,” the Doctor of Theology concludes.
In recent weeks, the Archbishop has made a number of statements completely contradicting his earlier positions and assertions and has made emotional and disturbing threats and accusations against the hierarchs who disagree with him.
In one public interview, he even spoke about killing the parents and siblings of his brother hierarchs, saying they would have reacted better to this than to his decision to commemorate the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko.
Speaking on Cypriot television, another theologian, Mr. Christos Oikonomou, President of the Department of Theology of the University of Nicosia, former Dean and President of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, also noted that Wednesday’s Synodal decision contradicts its earlier decisions.
In fact, the Synod’s statement of February 2019 asks specific questions about the validity of Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine—questions which were never answered. Oikonomou also expressed his agreement with His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos, that the latest decision of the Synod cannot be binding because it deals with issues of “doctrine, faith, and truth, which concern the core, the life, and ecclesiology, Christology, and soteriology.”
Thus, Met. George of Paphos’ declaration that this is simply an administrative matter of commemorations, is unfounded and indefensible.
As testified to by the Synodal decision of February 2019, the hierarchs and clergy of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” are unordained and thus cannot celebrate the Sacraments.
“Those who participate in invalid sacraments have no remission of sins and eternal life. Thus, the views of the Archbishop and the Metropolitan of Paphos are outside of Orthodox ecclesiology, Christology and soteriology,” the theologian writes.
It is those Orthodox Churches who do not recognize Epiphany Dumenko and his OCU who hold to Orthodox theology, Oikonomou concludes.
Representatives from two Cypriot Orthodox theological brotherhoods also earlier critiqued the Archbishop’s decision to commemorate schismatics, emphasizing that a pan-Orthodox council is needed to deal with the Ukrainian scandal.
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