The “Ukrainian question” provoked a confrontation between the Primate and bishops of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. Photo: SPM
That will result in a dispute between the Primate and three metropolitans of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus on the “Ukrainian question”.
The Primate of the Cypriot Orthodox Church (KPC) Archbishop Chrysostomos II condemned the position of Patriarch Kirill and accused the three bishops of his Church in violation of the decisions of the Synod. In response, they issued a statement explaining its position. The division, which brought the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, in Greece, the Church of Alexandria and the Holy Mountain Athos, now extends to Cyprus. The seeds of this separation from Fanara fell on prepared soil. Let’s see why.
The Church of Cyprus is one of the oldest. It was founded by the Holy Apostle Barnabas in ‘ 47 Over time, when they began to emerge of the types present in the local Churches, she became a diocese of the Church of Antioch. The third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus recognized the Autocephalous Church of Cyprus.
Starting from the VII century the island of Cyprus, and with it the Church of Cyprus experienced centuries-long occupation of heretics and the heterodox. First it was the Arabs, then the crusaders, the Venetians, the Ottomans, the British.
Full and final political independence Cyprus achieved in 1960, the Island was proclaimed a Republic, the first President of which was Primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III (Makarios).
Archbishop Makarios III (Makarios). Photo: cyprusalive.com.However, the Cypriots have long enjoyed freedom. In 1974 Turkish troops occupied 35% of the island, which declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Christian population almost at full strength, was forced to move to the Greek part of the island. In the occupied territory remained 514 churches and monasteries, most of which were destroyed or turned into mosques.In 2004 the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union, which, according to current head of the KPC, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, was a huge mistake, for it led to the actual loss of the Cyprus political sovereignty. And with the accession of Cyprus to the Eurozone in 2008, he began to rapidly lose its financial sovereignty, which resulted in the financial crisis of 2013
But back to the actual Church history. After the death of the Archbishop-President Makarios III in 1977, the Church and the secular power delimited. The head of state was Spyros Kyprianou, and the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos elected I (Aristodimou).
The Archbishop Of Cyprus Chrysostomos I (Aristodimou). Photo: churchofcyprus.org.cy.If concerns of Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus gained long-awaited independence, the writings of Archbishop Chrysostomos I of Cyprus, the Church flourished. It was rebuilt and restored from the ruins of a large number of temples and monasteries. Invited from mount Athos, many monks in Holy orders to serve in the Cypriot parishes and monasteries. Did much for the expansion of the Church and strengthen its position in society.
In 1996, the health of Archbishop Chrysostomos I, who at that time was 69 years old, began to deteriorate due to Alzheimer’s disease. And in 2000, he fell and received a severe head injury from which it could not recover until the end of his days. In 2002, doctors have officially recognized it unable to perform the duties of the Primate of the KPC.
The leadership of the Church passed to the Synod, whose members often couldn’t agree with each other. The Church has been shaken by scandals. In the media began to be published with the charges of the bishops of economic abuse and moral corruption. Members of the Synod were openly accused in the struggle for power. And although most of these allegations are never proved in the Church courts, it caused significant damage to the authority of the Church in the eyes of the Cypriots.
In 2002, immediately after medical reports on the failure of Archbishop Chrysostomos I, to rule the Church, Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos at the meeting of the Holy Synod proposed to elect a new Primate. Although this proposal is consistent with the Charter KPC Synod rejected him, he postponed the elections and appointed the first Commissioner for the consecration of Bishop KPC, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Paphos (the future Patriarch).
Members of the Synod were openly accused in the struggle for power. And although most of these allegations are never proved in the Church courts, it caused significant damage to the authority of the Church in the eyes of the Cypriots.Subsequently, the elections were postponed several times under various pretexts. The members of the Synod thus prevented the election of a candidate who had at that time more popular. The most authoritative of the bishops at that time was the Nikiforos of Kykkos, Limassol Athanasios and the neophyte Morski. All of them, as well as Metropolitan Isaiah Tomaseski actively speak today in support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Onufriy.
A few days ago, Metropolitan neophyte Morski said: “To the canonical Church there is only one canonical Metropolitan. The Church of Cyprus and Metropolitan of Morphou recognize Onuphrius as the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev”. He supported the idea of holding a pan-Orthodox Council to resolve the “Ukrainian issue”.
In 2005 the Holy Synod of the PCC voted against the election of a new Primate in the life of Archbishop Chrysostomos I. However, the need for elections became more and more obvious. Several bishops appealed to the Constantinople Patriarchate for help.
In 2006, the Swiss residence of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Chambesy under his chairmanship held a Council, in which participated the heads and representatives of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem Churches and Cypriot bishops. The Church sent Archbishop Chrysostomos I, to rest (died in 2007) and recognized the place of the Primate of the KPC vacant. Against this decision voted six out of the nine bishops of Cyprus, however, the election did set. And it was the first oddity.
The election of the Primate of the KPC at the time was quite difficult. The Charter required that at the first stage of voting all citizens of Cyprus, the Orthodox confession was elected 1 400 special delegates. In the second phase, these special delegates elected to the General 100 delegates. On the third added to them 31 the representative of the higher clergy KPC, who voted for the candidacy of the Primate.
In elections showed up the second oddity.
In the first phase of the special preferences of the delegates were as follows: Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol – 641, Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos – 615, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Paphos – just 125 votes.
In the second stage, this proportion is approximately preserved: Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol – 45 votes of the General delegates from 100, Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos – 46, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Paphos – 9.
But in voting in the final round, which left only two candidates, everything changed dramatically: Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Paphos received 73 votes, and Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol – 57 (the data of “Orthodox Encyclopedia”).
Thus, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Paphos became Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Primate of the KPC.
The Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II. Photo: Εξωτερικών Ministry.Church policy at the Archbishop Chrysostomos II has pronounced features.
First, this is a significant increase in the number of dioceses of bishops.
Second, it is streamlining the administrative management of the Church, its financial and economic activities. The reduction of the salaries of the clergy and Church workers in connection with the Cyprus financial crisis.
Thirdly, it’s pretty sharp political statements. Archbishop Chrysostomos II opposed any concessions to the Turkish Cypriots, calling the EU a historic mistake, and in 2013, in the midst of the financial crisis, said that KPC is ready to pass the state Church property to overcome its negative consequences.
Fourth, it significantly increased the activity of contacts with the Vatican. At the invitation of Archbishop Chrysostomos II in 2010 made his first official visit to Cyprus, Pope Benedict XVI, which caused significant protests of believers. Chrysostomos II has visited the Vatican, where he met with the Pope.
Until recently, the Archbishop has consistently and firmly supported the UOC-MP and spoke out against the intervention of secular authorities in Ukraine and Estonia in Church Affairs.
In 2008, he said: “When the political power interferes in the Affairs of the Church, it often destroys, not creates, because few in the modern world politicians that their lives will agree with the moral spiritual values. <…> We are very sad this situation. We do not agree with such actions. The sacred canons must come first in the Church and must be adhered to. We are called to build, not to destroy the unity”.
In the same year he refused the invitation of the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to participate in the celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the baptism of Russia from-for possible provocations on the part of dissenters.
However, he made statements about the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in pan-Orthodox world and claimed fifth place in the diptychs of the local Churches should take not of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Cyprus.
Until recently, the Archbishop has consistently and firmly supported the UOC-MP and spoke out against the intervention of secular authorities in Ukraine and Estonia in Church Affairs.And here 16 Dec 2019 Archbishop Chrysostomos II gave an interview in which it strongly condemned the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow for the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria Patriarchates and the Greek Orthodox Church: “We stop to remember those who deviate from the Orthodox faith, and I ask you: “Is the Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop of Athens and Patriarch of Alexandria as heretics, that you ceased to remember them?” You can make a protest, saying that they weren’t supposed to do that. To disagree with them, say that they are wrong. You can say. But to break off communication? Not to do? We only heretics does not serve. Your actions are simply unacceptable”.
Here Archbishop Chrysostomos wrong. As a graduate of the faculty of theology, University of Athens, he must be aware that Church canons forbid to pray not only with heretics but also with any person excommunicated from the Church. 10 Apostolic rule says: “If who is excommunicated from the communion of the Church to pray, even if that was in the house: such, let him be excommunicated”.
That we are talking about excommunicated, and not only the heretics, a well-known interpreters of the canons.
Canonist of the XII century the Patriarch of Antioch Theodore Balsamon in the interpretation of this rule says: “so, who prayed with the excommunicated, wherever and whenever, must be excommunicated. It is written for those who say that igneous excommunicated from the Church and that, consequently, if any along with it will sing in the house or on the field, I will not be guilty. For the Church to pray together with the excommunicated, or outside of her, still”.
A similar opinion is expressed by authoritative canonist of the XX century the Bishop Nikodim (Milash): “Jesus Christ Himself initiated the excommunication from His Church, saying: “if the Church won’t listen, let him be to you like a heathen and a publican” (Matt. 18, 17), that is, in other words, let him be excommunicated from the Church. Subsequently, the apostles explained it in detail in his Epistles as well as used and deed (1 Cor. 5, 5; 1 Tim. 1, 20; 2 Tim. 3, 5; tit. 3, 10; 2 Thess. 3, 6; 2 Jn. 10 and 11). Thus, the rule is strictly expresses the idea of the Holy Scriptures, to pray with soprema excommunicated from the Church fellowship not only at Church, when it is common to all the faithful prayer, but even at home alone with excommunicated”.
Ie in fact, Archbishop Chrysostomos accuses the Primate of the Orthodox Church that fulfills the Apostolic rule.
Moreover, accuses the Patriarch in which he did not done and not said, namely, claims to primacy in the whole Orthodox Church: “Everything is going to split. And the schism is the greatest sin. Don’t understand, he (the Patriarch – Ed.) wants to be first. And I told him that first he was not to be: “17 last centuries secured the first place in the Orthodox world behind Constantinople. All point. Don’t be fooled. Understand it.” But his ego does not allow him to do it”.
However, none of these statements neither Patriarch Kirill nor any of his predecessors, which could be interpreted as a claim to superiority. Very surprising to hear in the mouth of the Primate of the Local Church such a lie.
But the most depressing in the words of the Archbishop that he demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the situation. He believes that the current crisis in the Orthodox Church caused by the rivalry between Moscow and Fanara for the championship: “At the Synod, I said that we won’t take a position either in favor of Moscow, nor in favor of Constantinople. I want to remain neutral, to be able to help. They both need help. They were selfish and hardly able to reconcile. <…> So I’m all clergy were told not to make statements. Sit tight, because statements that relate to the Church, which is immortal, in the event of their inaccuracy will remain forever. <…> In vain was the Metropolitan of Kykkos and the Metropolitan Tomaseski, and the Metropolitan of Limassol. Brothers, well, sit tight. Once the Synod has made a decision, respect it”.
In fact, Archbishop Chrysostomos accuses the Primate of the Orthodox Church that fulfills this 10th Apostolic rule.But the choice between Moscow and Fanara is absolutely a false choice, imposed by Patriarch Bartholomew. It’s totally different.
The ROC does not claim any superiority, or even the sole right of resolving Church conflict. ROC says that it is only the Council of Churches can solve this conflict.
Fanar also declares that it is not only this conflict, but in General all important issues in the Church will only solve it, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and all others must obey his will. And this is nothing like the real ecclesiological heresy. For how can the Orthodox remain anyone who does not agree that the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church on earth and in heaven?
Archbishop Chrysostomos accusing their bishops of what they supposedly are “Pro-Russian” stance. And it is in vain. These bishops just don’t accept the false choice, which, apparently, has accepted the Archbishop of Moscow or Constantinople. In the position disgraced Cypriot bishops there is nothing “Pro-Moscow”. They ask simple and right questions:
Why is autocephaly granted to the dissenters?Why recognized their ordinations, are not in reality?Why Konstanski Metropolitan Vasily (Karanis) participated in joint worship with the representative of the PCU Yevstratiy Zorya by 30 November 2019? Isn’t this a violation of that “neutrality”, which was spoken of by Archbishop Chrysostomos?You can be neutral with respect to Fanaru or to Moscow, but how can you be neutral with respect to the sacred canons of the Church?Metropolitan KPTS – Limassol Athanasius, Nicephorus and Kykkos Tomaseski Isaiah responded to the accusations of the Primate and thoroughly explained his position. There is no sympathy for the ROC, only a desire to defend the purity of the canonical status of the Church.
What will follow next? They impose on these bishops rebuke and confess Church of Cyprus ptsu – time will tell. However, given what a fierce struggle was in the election of the current head of the KPC, we can conclude that the current standoff in the Church of Cyprus, provoked by the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine, threatens to develop into something very bad.
And the only thing that can stop such a development – the pan Orthodox Council as soon as possible. If the time is missed, the Cathedral will have to not only heal the Ukrainian schism, but also many others, including, perhaps, and Cyprus.Andrey Vlasov