On the third day, the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus to commemorate Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv, thus recognizing the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in this way, has provoked strong reactions.
Following the joint statement of Metropolitans of Limassol Athanasios, Nikiforos of Kykkos, Isaias of Tamasos, and Bishop Nikolaos of Amathous expressing strong reaction, the Ukrainian autocephaly issue has sparked controversy within the Church of Cyprus.
Metropolitan of Limassol: The Archbishop can not decide on his own
Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol told the Cyprus News Agency that he was saddened by the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus to recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine without the majority decision of the Holy Synod.
In his statement, the Metropolitan of Limassol said that “our disagreement is not only on the substance of the issue. The issue of whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate did good or bad is another matter.”
At the moment, he continued, our problem is that the Archbishop raised the issue at the meeting of the Holy Synod on September 9, “and then all the members of the Holy Synod, almost without exception, said to the Archbishop that he must not act in this way and he himself said that he would not act so since the members had expressed a different opinion and he would respect Synod’s opinion.”
We remained calm with the opinion expressed by the Holy Synod, which “humanely of course” is the head of the local Church, said Metropolitan Athanasios, adding that we were surprised to hear the commemoration of Metropolitan Epifaniy as the Metropolitan of Kyiv during the Saturday Divine Liturgy.”
“This saddened us because the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus is abolished in this way and it is an act with which we do not agree. That is why we expressed our disagreement and dissatisfaction with this fact,” he added.
Commenting on his departure from the service and whether he spoke with the Archbishop about the issue, the Metropolitan of Limassol said: “I did not speak with the Archbishop, I left so as not to say some words that we would not like to say.”
“The Church of Cyprus is expressed and governed by the Holy Synod. The Archbishop is the Primate of the Church but he can not decide on his own, neither the Archbishop without the Synod, nor the Synod without the Archbishop,” said the Metropolitan of Limassol.
It is, he added, a decision that must be made by the majority of the Holy Synod and he pointed out that “whatever the majority says, we will obey this decision even if we disagree. I can disagree but I obey what the majority of the Holy Synod decides.”
Asked what he thinks is right to do, he replied that the Holy Synod should be convened, “now I do not know what the Archbishop will do.”
Asked to comment on the reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Athanasios said: “Τhe Russian Orthodox Church has already stricken the Archbishop of Cyprus off its diptychs, this is very important and very painful and I do not know what the consequences of this will be in other areas.”
Finally, he stated that, apart from the Metropolitans of Kykkos, Tamasos and the Bishop Amathous, with whom he endorses the joint announcement-disagreement, he did not speak with any other Metropolitans on the issue.
Metropolitan of Kykkos: The Holy Synod is not to ratify the primate’s arbitrariness
Speaking on ANT1 TV station, Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos and Tyliria stressed that the Archbishop should reverse his decision and discuss the issue further with the hierarchs at the Holy Synod.
He also said that the Holy Synod was not to ratify the primate’s arbitrariness but to make decisions in advance, which should be implemented by the Archbishop.
At the same time, the Metropolitan stressed that they were stunned when they heard commemorating Metropolitan Epifaniy last Saturday during the Divine Liturgy at the Monastery of Panagia Chrysorroiatissa, who, he said, is schismatic and is not recognized by the churches.
As he explained, this issue was discussed on February 19 for the announcement of the granting of Ukraine’s autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was made in order to achieve unity, but this was not achieved.
At the same time, the issue was raised again on September 9 and the Archbishop informed the Holy Synod that he would send a letter commemorating Metropolitan Epifaniy. However, after contacting the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis, he decided not to publish the document.
However, despite the official decision made by the Holy Synod, the Archbishop acted spontaneously and surprised all those present.
Asked to comment on the fact that some people have not taken a position on the issue, the Metropolitan pointed out that they should not tacitly accept the violation of the Statutory Charter and should express their position at some point.
At the same time, commenting on the commemoration of Metropolitan Epifaniy by the Archbishop, he said in the strongest terms that the holy canons are very strict saying that he who receives the non-communicants in a Eucharistic communion also becomes non-communicant.
Finally, he stressed that there was a risk of schism within the Church in Cyprus, while the operation of the Orthodox Church is also obstructed.