It is with great alarm and deep sorrow that we learned of the commemoration of Epiphany as “Primate of the Ukrainian Church” by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus on this day, Saturday, October 24, 2020 during the Divine Liturgy at the Sacred Monastery of Our Lady Chrysoroyiatissa, where the ordination to the episcopate of the reverend Bishop Pankratios of Arsenoe.
1. The act in question by the Archbishop constitutes a blatant violation of the synodal, collective and democratic polity of our Orthodox Church and of the operation of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus on this basis.
2. This issue was raised by His Beatitude at the recent meeting of the Holy Synod (September 9, 2020) and it was at that time decided that it should be examined at another meeting in order for the views and positions of all the Members of the Holy Synod to be heard and so that a synodal decision might be taken on the issue.
3. The appointment of Epiphany as “Primate of the Ukrainian Church” by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which recently occurred, has caused fractures in the unity of the Orthodox Church and until today the Church of Greece and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, for reasons that are not evident, have recognized him. All the remaining local Orthodox Churches maintain a negative position on the issue. (It should be noted here at that at the “ordination” of the aforementioned Epiphany, no representatives of the local Orthodox Churches were in attendance, with whatever that might mean).
4. The one proclaimed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as “Primate” of the Church of Ukraine has in no way been canonically ordained since he comes from the schismatic groups of the Ukrainian Church. If His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch indeed wished to follow the canonical order of granting autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, then he should have appointed the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev, Onufry, and he should have the consent of the Patriarchate of Moscow, upon which he depends, as well as the consent of the local Orthodox Primates.
5. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s act of granting “autocephaly” to schismatic organizations of the Ukrainian Church constitutes an arbitrary, anti-canonical and anti-ecclesiastical action, in the sense that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine belongs to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow and it constitutes, as we have stated, an intervention in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate in question. Because of this fact, the Church of Russia has, in response, justifiably suspended ecclesiastical communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as with the Churches of Greece and Alexandria.
6. According to the Sacred Canons and Practice of our Church, the granting of autocephaly is only conceivable and possible if it receives the prior approval of the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches. In the present case, the Ecumenical Patriarch, despite what the Sacred Canons and Ecclesiastical Tradition stipulate and contrary to his prior statements on the matter, acted unilaterally and arbitrarily. Unfortunately, this example was followed by the Primate of the Church of Cyprus, who ignored and disdained the Holy Synod around him.
7. The Archbishop of Cyprus’ decision to commemorate Epiphany as “Primate of the Ukrainian Church” further aggravates the tense situation between the Orthodox Churches, strengthens the looming schism in Ecumenical Orthodoxy and recklessly introduces the Church of Cyprus into this climate.
8. We call upon His Beatitude immediately to revoke this anti-canonical and invalid Act of his and, at the same time, we ask all our fellow bishops of the Church of Cyprus collectively to demand an extraordinary meeting of our Holy Synod in order to address the issue and decide accordingly.
9. Finally, we must highlight the untimeliness of our Primate’s Act, in view of the critical time we are going through, with regard to our national issue as well as the threatening activities being carried out by insatiable Turkish expansionism, which threatens to diminish our nation.
We submit the above in good faith, aware of our archpriestly conscience and of our sacred duty to preserve canonical order and unity of the Church in order to avoid the deadly sin of schism which, according to Saint Chrysostom, “not even martyrdom of blood can wipe away this sin.”
Nicosia, October 24, 2020
This declaration was signed by Metropolitans Nikephoros of Kykkos, Athanasios of Limassol, Isaiah of Tamassos and Nicholas of Amathounta. The Greek original can be found here.