Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol: Next Archbishop of Cyprus should continue to follow the synodal decision concerning OCU

Limassol, Cyprus, November 21, 2022

Met. Athansios of Limassol. Photo: Met. Athansios of Limassol. Photo:     

With the recent repose of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, there are hopes among those who reject the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” that the next Cypriot primate will fix his predecessor’s mistake of choosing to recognize the schismatic structure.

However, given recent statements from the front-runner bishops, this is unlikely to happen.

Whoever is elected the next primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus should continue to commemorate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU, says His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who is known for publicly speaking out against the recognition of the OCU many times in the past.

The next Archbishop must abide by the earlier decision of the Holy Synod on the matter, he said in a recent interview with Alpha, adding that as long as people are suffering in Ukraine, it’s not the time to make decisions about ecclesiastical matters.

Breaking his promise to the Holy Synod, Archbishop Chrysostomos unilaterally decided to enter into communion with the OCU and commemorate Epiphany Dumenko in the Divine services in October 2020.

The next month, the Holy Synod thoroughly discussed the issue, and voted 10-7 not to support, but simply “not to oppose this decision of His Beatitude.”

Abp. Chrysostomos reposed in the Lord earlier this month. In Cyprus, the faithful choose their three favorites to take up the primatial throne, and their names are then put to vote by the Holy Synod. According to recent polling, the favorite is easily Met. Athanasios, followed by Met. Isaiah of Tamassos, and Met. Vasilios of Constantia.

While Met. Vasilios has always supported the recognition of the schismatics, and even concelebrated with schismatic hierarchs at the Phanar in November 2019, nearly a year before the Archbishop of Cyprus decided to recognize them, Mets. Athanasios and Isaiah and two other hierarchs were very vocally opposed to the Archbishop’s decision, which brought them into a public dispute with their primate, who threatened them with defrocking and even excommunication.

Met. Isaiah even publicly declared that he would no longer concelebrate with Abp. Chrysostomos, since he commemorated the schismatic Dumenko.

However, his public stance began to change after a visit to Istanbul in July, and especially since the repose of Abp. Chrysostomos.

In statements over the past week, Met. Isaiah has said that his position on the conflict between the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople was determined the day after the war in Ukraine began, and that the Cypriot Church is in agreement with Constantinople on the matter; and that, “In our Church, the Ukrainian Question has now, with the war, ended, and there can be no departure from the decisions of the Ecumenical Throne, regardless of the developments in the Archepiscopal elections in Cyprus.”

Thus, in all the most likely scenarios, the next primate of the Cypriot Church will continue to commemorate the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko.

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See also
Conscience and the canons forbid recognizing the schismatics, says Metropolitan of Limassol Conscience and the canons forbid recognizing the schismatics, says Metropolitan of Limassol Conscience and the canons forbid recognizing the schismatics, says Metropolitan of Limassol Conscience and the canons forbid recognizing the schismatics, says Metropolitan of Limassol
Although he respects Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol cannot accept and agree with his interference in Ukraine.
“Ignoring and Despising His Own Holy Synod” “Ignoring and Despising His Own Holy Synod”
Four Cypriot Metropolitans’ Call for Their Archbishop to Cease Commemorating the Head of the Ukrainian Schismatic Church
“Ignoring and Despising His Own Holy Synod” “Ignoring and Despising His Own Holy Synod”
Four Cypriot Metropolitans’ Call for Their Archbishop to Cease Commemorating the Head of the Ukrainian Schismatic Church
Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos and Tellyria, Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, Bishop Nicholas of Amathountos
In their appeal, they reaffirm the stance that Patriarch Bartholomew and the other primates who have accepted the schismatics have acted arbitrarily and anti-canonically in Ukraine and only threaten greater disunity and schism in the Church.
Cypriot Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol left Liturgy in protest over commemoration of Ukrainian schismatic Cypriot Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol left Liturgy in protest over commemoration of Ukrainian schismatic Cypriot Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol left Liturgy in protest over commemoration of Ukrainian schismatic Cypriot Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol left Liturgy in protest over commemoration of Ukrainian schismatic
Met. Athanasios “could not believe his ears” when he heard the name of the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko. He immediately left the church “in protest of the personal decision” of Abp. Chrysostomos.
Simon Ch12/16/2022 5:25 pm
@Jesse Dominick, yes I agree with you. Although in the original AlphaNews source to this above article, Met. Athanasios doesn't clearly say that he will commemorate Epiphanios of Kiev if elected next primate, in this new video which a priest just recently shared with me where Met. Athanasios tries to avoid the Ukraine question on commemoration and beats around the bush, the interviewer after insisting and pressing Met. Athanasios several times, finally gets Met. Athanasios to admit that he will commemorate Epiphany of Ukraine. Below is my translation of the interview with Met. Athanasios. This youtube video is from the Holy Metropolis of Lemessos' Youtube channel. At 12:40 Met. Athanasios is asked the question by the interviewer: Your Holiness, will you commemorate the Epiphanios of Kiev if you are elected Archbishop? Met. Athanasios: I do not know if I will be elected. We should not say this. Interviewer again repeats question at 12:54 and on: I repeat again and I say it publicly... if tomorrow you are elected [Archbishop] will you commemorate Epiphanios of Kiev? Met. Athanasios at 13:06 : [Certainly] and me and whichever Archbishop will abide by the decision of the Holy Synod [Cyprus] Interviewer at 13:16 : Therefore you will commemorate him [Epiphanios of Kiev]? Met. Athanasios at 13:17 : Certainly (Ασφαλώς) The problem with Met. Athanasios, (and I've met him personally on many occasions), is that a lot of times he's politically correct, he beats around the bush and does give you a straight answer. You have to basically press him several times and literally force the answer out of him. So based on this new video that came to my attention in my above comments, I retract everything I said before. Met. Athanasios will commemorate Epiphany and Met. Athanasios also says that he supports the newly ratified radical sexual education bill just passed through the Cypriot House of Representatives. My guess is that the acceptance of Epiphany's diocese on the Ukraine issue, is not so much about healing any schism (as the EP and others falsely claim), but more about pushing globalism, Syncretistic Ecumenism and the LGBQT agenda within Public Orthodoxy. All this jazz they're throwing at us about war and garbage is just a mask that the promoters of this are all hiding under. They want to push and join to the body of Christ the LGBQT, globalism and Syncretistic Ecumenism then permit all these entities access to Christ's Holy Mysteries. In Christ with love...
Jesse Dominick12/12/2022 3:51 pm
Simon, the latest decision of the Synod on the matter was to go along with Abp. Chrysostomos' decision to commemorate Epiphany. Met. Athanasios is saying the next primate should continue to follow this decision. By the way, he repeats the same stance in a new interview here:
Simon Ch12/10/2022 4:07 am
I thank the authors for the corrections to the initial article. Please forgive me for once again troubling the authors. It appears there is another mistranslation. I will post what I feel should be the correct translation and kindly request to take another look at the translation. The above article translated the following Greek statement from its source in Alpha News: "Ερωτηθείς σε σχέση με το ουκρανικό αυτοκέφαλο, απάντησε πως όποιος και να εκλεγεί θα πρέπει να τηρήσει τις αποφάσεις της Ιεράς Συνόδου σε σχέση με τη μνημόνευση του Επιφάνειου..." OrthoChristian translated this above as: 'Whoever is elected the next primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMMEMORATE “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU, says His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who is known for publicly speaking out against the recognition of the OCU many times in the past.' My translation: 'Metropolitan Athanasios was asked about the Ukrainian ecclesiastical situation in relation to the granting of the tomos of Autocephaly to the UOC, in-which Athanasios responded, "...IN RELATION TO THE COMMEMORATION OF EPIPHANY, whoever is elected the next Archbishop of Cyprus should continue to abide by the earlier decision of the Holy Synod..." '. Athanasios is not saying that Epiphany should continue to be commemorated. He's simply pointing the readers and listeners to a fact. I think in English grammar one would call this an article, keyword or phrase. Like in a courtroom when one is examining a witness and wants to draw the witnesses attention to a specific event, they mention a keyword or a fact to refresh their memory. For example: "remember when you were walked your dog to the store. Oh yeah I remember now. This is what precautionary measures I think you should take before walking your dog, in relation to when you took your dog to the store afterwards." That's all Met. Athanasios is doing here. In Christ with Love...
TimmyK12/3/2022 10:57 pm
Simon Ch's comments on 12/2/2022 12:36 am seem to be correct. When I initially read this article I felt that something was incoherent because the statements that Met. Athanasios was said to have made are completely out of character for him, and he is not a fickle man. I agree with Simon Ch that OrthoChristian should reconsider the English translations (or more likely, mistranslations) of the Alpha article & interview they used as the basis of this article & repost an updated/corrected article for the purposes of accuracy & journalistic integrity.
Simon Ch12/2/2022 12:36 am
On the issue on the claim that Met. Athanasios said that Epiphany should continue to be commemorated. I took a second look at the above English translation of this article (since I fluently speak Greek and the Greek-Cypriot dialect), and went to the original Greek source referenced in this article at the link below at AlphaNews: and further watched the video interview in Alphanews with Met. Athanasios. It seems that Athanasios made "NO SUCH CLAIM". Rather he says that the decision of the Holy Synod of Cyprus needs to be respected and followed and not the individual personal desires of the Archbishop. Athanasios also declined to comment on whether Epiphanios should be commemorated. Athanasios says (again in the original Greek), that the Ukrainian situation is very sensitive and it is not time for ecclesiastical decisions" or something to that effect. The translators at Orthochristian should take a second look again at their English translations and to stop using google translate if they did as it is horrible at translating Greek. It appears that Orthochristian may have made an error and may need to print a retraction. What I heard in Cyprus since I have been residing here for the last three years, was that it was Met. Isaiah's of Tamasou (not Athanasios), that said that Epiphanios should continue to be commemorated. Although I don't agree with Athanasios' position on a lot of things (e.g. the j@b, his lax approach on dogmatic issues, etc.), we need to be careful that our feelings and emotions don't affect our judgment. Just saying. Forgive me and please kindly tell the author and translators of this article to take a second look at their translation or rather mistranslation. In Christ with love
Alex11/23/2022 11:09 pm
James P., AMEN...AMEN!
Alexei11/23/2022 8:25 pm
Μπορούμε να αλλάξουμε θέμα, παρακαλώ;
James P11/23/2022 12:08 pm
James: As usual, you don't care about what people in Russia and Donbas feel about NATO-backed Ukrainian aggression against them. Look deeper, and you'll see that the Russian military operation is not only justified, but should have happened eight years ago.
Theodoros 11/23/2022 3:15 am
To Randy, Commemoration of the OCU is wrong. Metropolitan Athanasios knows this as he has made the case against recognition in the past. This is the same bishop who walked out of the liturgy when the late Archbishop Chrysostomos commemorated Dimenko for the first time. Once again, a bishop totally abandons his original stance. One has to wonder what kind of threats or bribes or pressure tactics have been exerted on them. The Orthodox Church today can be divided in two ways. The free Churches and the non free Churches. The Churches of Alexandria, Greece, and Cyprus are clearly non free. Constantinople is an outright collaborator with Washington that has gradually taken over the aforementioned Churches. In the Ottoman Empire, the Church of Constantinople with the backing of the Sultan gradually took over the Churches of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania. I believe we are seeing a similar process at play here with Patriarch Bartholomew taking over the Greek Churches. Metropolitan Athananasios like others before him (including Patriarchs Bartholomew and Theodoros) recognized only the canonical Ukrainian Church. Like the others he offers no explanation. His change of stance is a very bad sign. At least the Churches of Greece had vocal bishops, priests, monastics, and theologians opposing the stances of their primates. Now it appears the Church of Cyprus in its entirety may recognize the fake Ukrainian entity that calls itself a church.
James11/23/2022 2:52 am
Many years to Metropolitan Athanasios! Thank you for encouraging us who do not support the hostilities against Ukraine. I do not like the existence of a parallel Constantinopolitan hierarcy in Ukraine, and I think we should support (the independent) Metropolitan Onouphry.... but I'm grateful that Met. Athanasios does not support this insane invasion.
Randy11/22/2022 9:30 pm
Not going to get involved in any argument here but just wanted to point out that all Met. Athanasios said in this interview was that whoever is elected Archbishop should "abide by the decisions of the Holy Synod" with regards to the Ukrainian issue. As the Holy Synod of Cyprus never voted for or against commemoration, only to not protest the reposed Archbishop Chrysostomos' actions, its possible hes just referring to any future actions of the synod on the issue, and I feel like it's a bit of a leap to derive conclusions one way or the other as to what Met. Athanasios' position on the issue will be were he to be elected. It's best to just let things pan out and draw conclusions when tempers are less heated.
Steve11/22/2022 4:54 pm
The Archbishop of Albania has said that he won't recognize the OCU, and primarily because it hasn't brought peace to Ukraine. Yet by the same token, the Moscow Patriarchate hasn't brought peace to Ukraine either.
Antiochene Son11/22/2022 4:47 pm
@David: What does the war and the MP's meddling in Africa have to do with it? The UOC's canonical status has nothing to do with the war or the MP's actions elsewhere. It sounds like you're saying our bishops should be politicians rather than hierarchs upholding the truth.
Jesse Dominick11/22/2022 3:21 pm
David, you're right, in that if you've followed Met. Athanasios' statements over the past few years, it's not terribly surprising that he would take the stance of obedience to the Holy Synod. However, it is noteworthy that even the Synod didn't //actually// vote to support Abp. Chrysostomos on this matter, but only to not protest against him. Additionally, there was still hope because Met. Athanasios has been so consistent in saying the OCU are schismatics and it was wrong to recognize them, so even if the Synod had made a supportive decision, why should a non-canonical decision be maintained by the new Archbishop? But alas, we shall see what happens.
Alexander 11/22/2022 2:38 pm
@David: you missed the point here! No one can change the "view". Either the "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" is a schismatic sect or not. No matter if we support the war or not. If Metropolitan Athanasios is in communion with sects, than he is a sectarian himself. The Holy Canons are quite clear. Patriarch Bartholomew was a heretic and schismatic long before the case in Ukraine started. The liberal modernised Greek New Calendar Church also was in apostasy long before the ukrainian case started. Do you really think you can change Holy Tradition without changing your doctrine? No. There are even contemporary greek "blessed" Gerontas like Theodoropoulos who are absolutely not orthodox.
Patrick11/22/2022 2:28 pm
I thought I didn't read the article's title correctly at first... I had to open up the video of St Joseph the Hesychast (A Saint very dear to me) to see if it was the same Archbishop seen in the video (of whom I had heard many good things). I am undoubtedly surprised. I agree with those who already said that the war has nothing to do with this. We don't just accept schismatics temporarily... If we do that, we will make other concessions another day and will soon have an entirely new church. Doesn't the beauty of Orthodoxy lie in its firm purposes? On the other hand, while having always found much inspiration and purpose in the MP's views on the OCU issue, I certainly distance myself from the MP's views on the war (and am still shocked by them). I think God is showing us that the MP has shortcomings too (don't we all!). Clearly there are many ways to get lost in this world, even when we look for guidance from patriarchs and clergy. As far as I am concerned, I prefer to stay simple and if I am able, follow St Joseph the Hesychast's example of prayer and asking God for guidance. Having said that, I find that Met Onuphry's simple words are often edifying my soul and coming from a man (and his church) who are truly suffering Christians (what better example?). It is often from those who suffer that I gain more wisdom than anywhere else (like from the poor and crippled man standing at the church gate asking for a coin, or from the Ukrainian refugee woman who tells me tearfully of her family's tragic hardship... rather than from the elaborate sermons of the Bishop). I pray that God keeps you all strong during these discouraging times and gives all clergy wisdom and strength: Christ is encouragement!
Joseph Lipper11/22/2022 7:26 am
His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol is probably one of the most respected bishops in all of Orthodoxy.
David11/22/2022 6:45 am
Why the surprise? This is completely consistent with His Eminence's position, if one is paying attention. He has repeatedly expressed respect and deference for the Holy Synod. All he is saying is that the new Archbishop should not unilaterally overturn anything. The 1-2 punch of the African Exarchate and the War (along with the MP's reactions to it) have changed a lot of minds this past year on the Ukrainian issue. Like Metropolitan Onuphry, Metropolitan Athanasios no longer serves the narrative and will be thrown under the bus.
Gus11/22/2022 4:16 am
Everyone needs to chill out. Met. Athanasios is an extremely prayerful and discerning bishop. He is not saying the issue is settled once and for all, he is simply saying that now is not the time to start a fight in the Church against Constantinople when the next Archbishop is elected.
Theodoros11/22/2022 12:58 am
What does the war have to do with the Church issue? It is possible to disagree about the war but not about the faith itself. The American intervention in Church affairs in fact contributed to the war by attempting to isolate and harm Russia and the Russian Church. Dimenko is not a bishop and the OCU is not a Church. Greek bishops are making horrendous decisions and following the errors of those who accepted the dictates of the Pope at Florence. The council of Florence was the result of political considerations. Similar political pressure is at work today and it speaks poorly of the Greek bishops who obey western dictates on the matter of Ukraine. The Greek speaking Churches are repeating the errors of previous centuries. Saint Mark of Ephesus is The example that Greeks should be following not Bartholomew and Elpidophoros.
Hieromonk Nilus11/22/2022 12:38 am
I met Metropolitan Athanasios in 1986 at New Skete on Athos. He was a hieromonk at the kelli where St. Joseph the Hesychast reposed. He spiritual father was Joseph the Younger, later the Elder of Vatopedi Monastery. Let us pray to his spiritual grandfather, St. Joseph the Hesychast, for him.
Antiochene Son11/22/2022 12:14 am
One hierarch after the next is summoned to Istanbul and then bend the neck. It is sad to see so many men without spines in the hierarchy, but this has happened many times before and the Church always prevails in the end.
anonsayswhat11/21/2022 10:58 pm
He's basically taking the knee to the globalist agenda against Russia. There was no Synod to agree on supporting the OCU. He's being conveniently inaccurate to show support for the West, because of the difficulties the Ukrainians are suffering. It's almost as if, he's stating this to gain outside support to obtain the throne.
Fr. Averky11/21/2022 10:05 pm
Thank God for His great mercy and love towards sinful mankind, in Cyprus and everywhere else abroad. The genuine Orthodox Church of Cyprus has it's steward and most faithful servant Archbishop + Epiphanios of Cyprus. A deeply humble and Orthodox Man of both prayer and correct Orthodox confession of faith.
Anthony11/21/2022 9:46 pm
Your article seems confused. On the one hand, you write that he says the new Archbishop should continue to commemorate the schismatic church; then, on the other hand, you write that he says that the new Archbishop should abide by the earlier decision of the synod. Those are two contradictory conclusions.
Alex11/21/2022 7:58 pm
Met. Athanasios, you have just entered the ranks of the hapless clowns based on your absurd statement. ANAXIOS!
Alexander11/21/2022 7:46 pm
There is no "Ecumenical Throne" because Bartholomew is a schismatic and heretic and has to be deposed. I am very disappointed by Metropolitan Athanasios. But as I always posted, the Greek New Calendar Church of Greece (Cyprus included) will not repent. They fall from one apostasy into the next.
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