by Efi Efthimiou
The recent statements regarding the Ukrainian issue from the Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who insists on opposing the recognition of the Tomos of the Church of Ukraine by the Church of Cyprus, cause at least embarrassment and question in ecclesiastical circles.
In the previous days, during the celebrations of the Baptism of the Rus in Kyiv, the Metropolitan of Limassol gave an interview to Ukrainian media, highlighting that Metropolitan Onufriy (of the Russian Church in Ukraine) is the “canonical” Metropolitan of Kyiv, and claiming that everything that is relevant with the Tomos and Autocephaly, “has nothing to do with God”.
His attitude took place at a time when in Kyiv and next to the Metropolitan Epifaniy of the Church of Ukraine, concelebrated the Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon as a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kyrenia as a representative of the Church of Cyprus and Theodore, Bishop of Babylon.
In his televised interview, the Metropolitan of Limassol stated that “we must remain faithful to the canonical Church of Ukraine, headed by Metropolitan Onufriy, assuring viewers that in Cyprus, they pray for the Church of the Metropolitan Onufriy.
He stressed that the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and the persecutions associated with this event against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, do not cause joy.
“From the beginning, I had a negative attitude towards them. I am very sorry for what is happening in Ukraine today. But we must understand that these will pass in time. After all, everything related to the “Tomos” and the “Autocephaly” has nothing to do with God. Eventually, God will save everything and put it back in its place. We must understand that ecclesiastical rules exist and non canοnical bishops cannot be recognized as canonical.”
The views of the Metropolitan of Limassol are not new, he has expressed them again and are in full accordance with the Russian “line” of questioning the jurisdiction and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
However, now these views come at a time when the Russian Church is trying to increase tensions, ahead of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to Kyiv for the anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.
Officials of the Russian Church continue to call on the Ecumenical Patriarch not to visit Kyiv, accusing him of “unprecedented crimes against the Church” and of the “bloody confrontation that sows misery among our people.”
The Metropolitan of Limassol had condemned from the first day the commemoration of Metropolitan Epifaniy by the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos, as a “blatant violation of the synodical, collective and democratic status of our Orthodox Church and the functionality of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus”.
Archbishop Chrysostomos has expressed several times his dissatisfaction with this attitude of the Metropolitan of Limassol and other members of the Holy Synod who do not agree with the recognition of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine.
His statement in a recent interview was typical, where he said that “the Holy Brothers should keep in mind that I am still an Archbishop. And I did not die. I am still alive“.