Limassol, Cyprus, November 21, 2022
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.