Istanbul, December 1, 2022
A Cypriot hierarch who once strongly supported Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and therefore opposed the creation and recognition of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” concelebrated with one of the schismatic “hierarchs” in Istanbul yesterday.
Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos once stood together with Metropolitans Athanasios of Limassol and Nikiforos of Kykkos and Bishop Nicholas of Amathountos to condemn the unliteral decision of the previous primate, Archbishop Chrysostom, to recognize the schismatics.
Consequently, Met. Isaiah and the other hierarchs endured verbal abuse and threats from the Archbishop, and the hierarch of Tamassos even publicly declared that he would no longer concelebrate with Abp. Chrysostomos since he commemorated the head of the schismatic OCU.
However, after visiting Patriarch Bartholomew in July, his public stance began to change.
Similarly, Abp. Chrysostomos’ stance also changed after a visit to the Phanar. Though he once publicly spoke about the dangers of Constantinople’s unilateral actions in Ukraine and defended the canonicity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, he said many times that although he had been a Church figure for decades and represented the Church of Cyprus at pan-Orthodox gatherings for 30 years, it was only during a visit to Istanbul in 2019 that he learned Constantinople’s side of story, after which he began to commemorate the schismatics.
Abp. Chrysostomos reposed in the Lord last month, and Met. Isaiah is the second most popular contender to replace him. In Cyprus, the laity choose their three favorites, and then the Synod chooses one of the three. The Synod has a majority of Constantinople-leaning hierarchs.
And yesterday, Met. Isaiah served in the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the holy Apostle Andrew, the patron saint of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Among the others serving was “Archbishop” Agapit Gumenyuk of Vyshgorod of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” as can be seen in the video published by the Patriarchate.
This is the first time that Met. Isaiah has concelebrated with one of the schismatics.
In a media statement following the Liturgy, Met. Isaiah said that “with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the theological facts, we couldn’t but support the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” though he didn’t clarify how the war changes the canonical status of the OCU.