The reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church was immediate following the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus to commemorate Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, thus becoming the third Church to recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk spoke to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti and referred in brutal terms to the decision of the Archbishop of Cyprus, while there were also threats against those hierarchs of Cyprus who joined the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos.
In particular, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church said: “We are deeply saddened by this unpleasant event,” adding that the decision on the reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church will be made by the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate.
However, he estimates that the Church of Cyprus will be stricken off the diptychs of the Russian Orthodox Church, that is, the Archbishop of Cyprus will no longer be commemorated “until we examine all the circumstances under which these events took place.”
He even states that it is very important for the Moscow Patriarchate to clarify whether this decision was unilaterally made by Archbishop Chrysostomos or was made with the concert with the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus.
The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk estimates that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew exerted pressure on the Archbishop of Cyprus, as well as the United States did so, which, as he said, “has an interest in weakening the Russian Orthodox Church, thus contrasting the Greek world with the Slavic one.”
In fact, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk warns them that the Russian Orthodox Church will continue to be in full communion with the hierarchs who will not recognize the decision of the Archbishop of Cyprus, which he had described as “unilateral”.
Worse, he threatens that “Russian pilgrims will continue traveling to the shrines of the Metropolises of the Church of Cyprus whose heads will remain in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church.”
Referring to a previous interview of the Archbishop of Cyprus who said to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow that he would never be the first, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk claims that he was present at all the meetings between Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Chrysostomos, and such a discussion was never held.”
“The Archbishop of Cyprus would never say such a thing before the Patriarch of Moscow, even if he thought about it. Such a discussion has taken place only in the imagination of the Archbishop of Cyprus. Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church has never claimed primacy in the Orthodox world,” said the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk.