Kiev, February 12, 2021
The schismatics of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) have taken aim at His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who is a staunch supporter of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and a likely successor to Archbishop Chrysostomos as the primate of the Church of Cyprus.
With reference to a number of sources, Orthodox journalist Alexander Voznesensky writes that there is “information that schismatics and propagandists associated with Ukrainian diplomats and the Ukrainian Special Services are deploying not only denigration, but also provocations against Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol, as they see him as a possible candidate to succeed the primate of the Church of Cyprus.”
Met. Athanasios has continually spoken out in favor of the canonical UOC and against Constantinople’s anti-canonical invasion of Ukrainian Church territory and Abp. Chrysostomos’ anti-canonical recognition of the schismatic OCU. Earlier this week, His Eminence expressed the “great sadness and pain of heart” he feels witnessing the persecution of the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine, whom he called upon to remain faithful to Christ in His Church under Met. Onuphry.
“Apparently, this position significantly scares the schismatics and propagandists associated with the Ukrainian Special Services, which is why a certain campaign is being launched to denigrate this bishop,” Voznesensky writes.
As the journalist explained to OrthoChristian, there is no compromising material on Met. Athanasios, but there are underhanded attempts to paint him as a Russophile rather than a Hellenophile. Inciting ethnic enmity is the usual modus operandi of the schismatics and their supporters.
“In fact, in a certain sense, the election campaign on the part of the Phanariot-American team is already beginning, and they are trying to gradually, step by step, put information pressure on the bishops who disagree with them,” Voznesenksy said.
It is well known that Abp. Chrysostomos is in poor health and surrounded by a number of scandals. Were he to retire or repose, Met. Athanasios, one of the most beloved and authoritative hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus and the entire Orthodox Church, could very likely take his place. In fact, Met. Athanasios was the favorite to be elected as Archbishop in 2006, until Abp. Chrysostomos, then Metropolitan of Paphos, brought fallacious charges of sexual assault against him and manipulated his brother bishops into turning on one another.
With Met. Athanasios on the primatial throne, the partial recognition of the schismatics by the Church of Cyprus would immediately be nullified.
Abp. Chrysostomos himself faced pressure from pro-Constantinople forces, as the Cypriot and international media dug up a financial scandal from 2015 involving him, which led to his sudden unilateral decision to liturgically commemorate the schismatic head of the OCU.
The Cypriot Synod then voted by a small majority “not to oppose” the Archbishop’s action, although it explicitly went against the decision of the entire Holy Synod from February 2019, which emphasized that anathematized and unordained schismatics cannot be the foundation for a Local Church and called for the Church of Cyprus to maintain a neutral stance on the Ukrainian issue.
“It is this situation that scares the Phanariot-American team, the schismatics, and those who serve their interests, so it was decided to launch a dirty campaign of discrediting and denigration against the disagreeable hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus, who decided to remain loyal to the canons of the Church,” Voznesensky comments.