Tamassos, Cyprus, February 8, 2021
In his new interview with Romfea, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus talks in detail about the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s longstanding fear that the Moscow Patriarchate will replace it in the hierarchy of the Churches and how this fear has been weaponized by the great Western powers to attack the Russian Church and Orthodox Church unity in general, as OrthoChristian has reported.
The Metropolitan also talks about how his own primate, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, has employed this same tactic of divide and conquer multiple times within the Cypriot Church.
He begins by explaining that the Church of Cyprus attempted to observe a neutral position on the Ukrainian issue to preserve freedom and unity and to give an opportunity for the Local Churches to gather and make a final decision on the matter, thus preserving the Church’s independence from political influences. This was explained in the Cypriot Synod’s statement from February 2019, the Metropolitan recalls.
However, Met. Isaiah and other hierarchs are accused of being biased towards the Moscow Patriarchate, especially now that they continue to maintain this neutral position even after Abp. Chrysostomos entered into communion with the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Many Russians live in Cyprus, and so Met. Isaiah and other hierarchs care for their Russian flock, which has included building a Russian-style church and wearing Russian-style vestments at times. The Cypriot bishops are thus accused of being more loyal to Russia than to Hellenism and Orthodoxy. However, these are simply vicious accusations used to serve the ends of those making them, the Metropolitan emphasizes.
And just as wealthy Russians have funded Church projects, so have wealthy Greeks and Americas, but no one therefore accuses the hierarchs of being under Greek or American control, Met. Isaiah notes.
The international community shouts about respecting the origins, religious, and culture of immigrants, but everything is different when it comes to Orthodox Russians living in Cyprus, he also notes. Caring for Russians there can only mean being subservient to Russia, according to Abp. Chrysostomos and those who support Constantinople and the Ukrainian schismatics.
But, in fact, the only one who has taken money for personal projects is the Archbishop, as he himself openly admits, Met. Isaiah points out.
But interests come and go—why should the Church ruin its reputation and isolate itself in service of these interest, the Metropolitan asks rhetorically.
Asked if his opposition to the policies of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are bad for Orthodox unity, Met. Isaiah responds that he loves the Patriarchate, which is the cradle of Byzantine culture and the embodiment of the irresistible soul of the historical Greek race. It is one of the most sacred institutions of the Church. As the Metropolitan explains, such depth of feeling for Constantinople was inculcated in him by his former abbot, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos, who also opposes Constantinople’s lawlessness.
The bishops will never make any moves against Constantinople, Met. Isaiah emphasizes, but they can’t remain silent when the Patriarchate does something wrong.
And returning to the Archbishop’s accusations that Met. Isaiah and other hierarchs have taken Russian money, Met. Isaiah says it is shameful to make such accusations to spoil the hierarchs’ relationship with Constantinople to serve his own ends. “It’s criminal and blasphemous” the Cypriot hierarch says, emphasizing that it’s not a move against Constantinople to speak the truth. When you love someone, you speak honestly with them, he says.
The Archbishop makes such accusations, bringing the hierarchs into a head-on conflict with Constantinople in order to serve his own interests, just as he did in order to get himself elected as Archbishop in 2006, Met. Isaiah comments. At that time, he falsely accused His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol of homosexual sexual abuse in order to keep him off the primatial throne and he worked to turn the bishops against one another.
And the Archbishop acted the same here with the Ukrainian issue, Met. Isaiah says. Initially, he regularly criticized the authoritarian actions of Pat. Bartholomew, saying only he had the courage to speak straight to him. Then the Archbishop would also denounce both sides in the conflict, doing everything he could to polarize the hierarchs of the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan explains.
The Archbishop used to preach neutrality and affirm that the Russian Church is the Mother Church of the Ukrainian Church until the climate was polarized enough for him, and then he suddenly did an about-face. He knew that Met. Isaiah and others would maintain their neutral position and would thus come into conflict with Constantinople.
“Since the majority of the Synod disagreed, he proceeded to poison our relations with the Phanar and the West, starting to accuse us brazenly both in political and Church circles, but especially to the Patriarch, for a supposedly pro-Russian selfish attitude,” Met. Isaiah said, emphasizing that the Archbishop used to publicly proclaim the position that he and others still hold.
“When he considered that balances and opportunistic interests were in his favor, he made the unilateral recognition of the schismatic Epiphany,” but in doing so, he dealt a huge blow to his own Cypriot Church.
“Again, like during the Archepiscopal elections, he discredited his opponents and secured the climate that he wished to create in order to be elected to the throne,” Met. Isaiah explained.
The issue has reached ridiculous heights: “We have reached the point where it is considered a sin to build churches, because this is perceived by some politically. We have reached the point where we support our Christian brethren, who live in our home countries, and this is considered a political move rather than a spiritual obligation. Alas!”
However, Met. Isaiah refuses to accept accusations that he serves any master but the Gospel.
Metropolitans Nikiforos of Kykkos and Athanasios of Limassol have also recently spoken about the Archbishop’s obstinacy, lies, slander, and divide and conquer tactics.