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In a talk with a Sigma TV reporter (Republic of Cyprus), Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos and Tellyria spoke about the situation in the Orthodox Church of Cyprus with regard to the decision of the Synod on Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus’s liturgical mention of the Ukrainian schismatics leader Epifaniy Dumenko as ‘primate of the church of Ukraine’ and about the events and circumstances that preceded it.

The archpastor set forth very minutely and precisely the story of the Ukrainian church problem showing all the invalidity of the actions of Constantinople which declared in 2018 ‘the cancellation’ of the more than 300 year-old history of the document which transferred the Metropolis of Kiev to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and ‘the reinstatement of the ranks’ of Ukrainian schismatics, including those who had no canonical ordination, and which later granted ‘autocephaly’ to an ‘OCU’ made up of a few schismatic groups. After his overview of the subject, Metropolitan Nikephoros noted in particular that what did matter was the question of who has the right to consecrate and judge bishops.

At the same time, he pointed out that he respected, loved and revered the Ecumenical Patriarchate for its great merits in the past. However, in his opinion, even if the Ecumenical Patriarch does have the right to grant autocephaly, it is only provided that there is a consent to it by other autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

Answering the question of who has the right to define the boundaries of autocephalous Churches, His Eminence cited solid arguments explaining that each Patriarchate has its own list of dioceses indicating all the metropolia belonging to it.

When the talk turned to accusatory statements made by opponents to his stand, the metropolitan wondered about the interests he is alleged to have and pursue in Russia and stated that he had no such interests. He emphasized that the allegations about certain ‘Russian investments’ are untrue. His Eminence attested to his concern for a possible development of a serious schism in the fold of Orthodoxy, which is the deepest sin that makes him act as he does.

The archpastor was also perplexed by accusations of egotism against the Cyprian archpastors who opposed to taking part in the legalization of the Ukrainian schism through the recognition of its head Epifaniy Dumenko. ‘Then what egotism will we satisfy – that we will become metropolitans in Russia?’ he said.

The metropolitan also said that by his recognition of Epifaniy, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus ignored the decision of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus made on 18 February 2019. At that session, having expressed an opinion that the actions undertaken by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine were aimed to achieve appeasement and unity in the local Church, the Synod stated; ‘at present this aim has not been achieved’. In case the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy never happened, the Church of Cyprus deemed it important to convene ‘a Pan-Orthodox Council or a Synaxis of the Primates’. As for the apostolic succession of the structure newly created in Ukraine and recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it was underlined that ‘the two millennia-old experience of the Church of Cyprus as well as that of the whole Orthodox Church gives rise to our doubts as to the possibility to legitimate in retrospect the ordinations administered by bishops who had been defrocked, excommunicated and anathematised’.

Metropolitan Nikephoros also noted that even if, along with the liturgical mention, concelebration with the head of ‘the OCU’ should take place, it would already become a direct schism in the Church.

He said that for the sake of oikonomia the liturgical mention of the Archbishop of Cyprus should be continued, but if he keeps mentioning Epifaniy during the liturgy, nobody will concelebrate with him.

At the same time, His Eminence emphasized that His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos cannot threaten to defrock those who disagree with his position on the Ukrainian problem. ‘I am not scared by the fright of defrocking’, he said adding that, at all appearances, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople did not mean something like it’. ‘He is not a bad man, and we know him better’, the hierarch stated.

To the journalist’s question whether the decision of the Holy Synod is binding, His Eminence suggested reflecting on the question: did not Archbishop Chrysostomos ignore the 2019 Synodal resolution on the Ukrainian topic? ‘We are always obedient to the Statute of our Church but when the point is faith, canons and dogmata, we have the right to refuse to attend the Synod’, he said.

His Eminence continued the talk mentioning Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol with whom the Archbishop of Cyprus and the Metropolitan of Pathos had refused to concelebrate for nine years. ‘If the Church tolerated it for nine years, why it should be so strict now?’ the hierarch asked, ‘We refuse to accept this decision because it affects our faith’.

He mentioned the changeability of the stand taken by some hierarchs at the latest session of the Synod of the Church of Cyprus. Thus, initially among those who opposed the recognition of Epifaniy was also the Metropolitan of Pathos. In addition, the seven bishops who opposed the decision were initially joined by the Metropolitan of Trimythous, who, already at the second session, ‘acted contrary to his hierarchal conscience’.

Speaking about the compromise settlement he proposed to the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Nikephoros explained that he was concerned not with objection to the liturgical mention of Epifaniy but with a possibility for going over to concelebration and, more broadly, to the Eucharistic communion with him. However, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos deemed the second part of the proposal offensive.

Metropolitan Nikephoros was also concerned for the danger of ontological defilement of the episcopal corps on the pan-Orthodox level, since the leaders of the ‘OCU’ have no apostolic succession.

DECR Communication Service

With reference to Romfea news agency