In an interview with Vima tis Kyriakis newspaper, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus talks about the parasynagogue of the four hierarchs and describes the reasons behind his decision to recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The commemoration of Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus infuriated the Patriarchate of Moscow, on the one hand, and became the reason for announcements, complaints and interventions of three Metropolitans and one Bishop of the Church of Cyprus, on the other.
Metropolitans Athanasios of Limassol, Nikiforos of Kykkos, Isaias Tamassos, and Bishop Nikolaos of Amathus criticized and denounced the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos as the issue had not been discussed at the meeting of the Holy Synod and no relevant decision has been taken.
The situation is exacerbated by three different factors; some of the hierarchs who reacted have either direct or indirect relations with Russia, the four are also powerful as they have direct contact with the faithful while their dioceses are robust economically and politically, and the Archbishop has stated last year that he is facing a serious health problem and, because of that, the battle of succession has begun.
Asked how he made the decision to recognize the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, he said that, when he visited the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in March 2020, he knew half the truth. He was informed that when the Ecumenical Patriarchate granted the Tomos of Autocephaly to Moscow at the beginning of the 17th century, it allowed the latter to administrate the Church of Ukraine due to Ukraine’s proximity to Moscow, as had been the case with the dioceses of the Metropolises of the New Lands in Greece.
Regarding the stance of the four hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos stressed that, as the four Metropolitans stated, neither the Archbishop could act on his own without the bishops nor the synodal hierarchs could make no decision without the Archbishop. What they did is called a parasynagogue and, in fact, according to the Holy Canons, it is regarded as a serious canonical transgression that is punishable by defrocking. He also clarified that what he did, which the other hierarchs seemed to have been done without the consent of the other synodal hierarchs, is a result of the pan-Orthodox conferences.
“For 30 years, I have been representing the Church of Cyprus in the Pan-Orthodox Conferences and the late Archbishop Chrysostomos I, as far as I know, did not ask what stance he wanted me to follow during the pan-Orthodox meetings when I was representing the Church of Cyprus. As far as I am concerned, anyone who would protest or would like to express their opinion, I was always there to listen to their opinion and explain the reasons behind my decisions,” said the Archbishop of Cyprus.