An Open Letter by Met. Isaiah of Tamassos

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Within the Church, any objections and disagreements must be expressed politely, without insults and disparaging comments. Characterizations of Bishops of the sort “pipsqueaks”, “they’ll kill each other if I depart”, or “their egotism and irresponsible character has not left them” do not befit the high office of Primate of our Church.

The ordination of Bishops is not the personal affair of a given Primate, but rather it is, by the grace of God, an act of the whole Church which, of course, is confirmed by the First in rank who presides over the ordaining archpriestly assembly of bishops, which precludes the ordination from being performed by the Primate alone, but rather ensures that it is performed by several Bishops.

In this way, it is certain that the synodal system is represented and the words of Jesus Christ are observed: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

Thus it is Jesus Christ who, in the midst of the bishops who have apostolic succession, through the Holy Spirit, ordains and He is the Leader of the assembly and chief of the one being ordained and the one to whom the one being ordained owes full obedience and whom the Holy Synod which elected him follows.

This occurs on the condition that the Holy Synod keeps, in turn, Jesus’ commandments, a fact that is determined by both Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition, that is, the pillars of the Sacred Canons.

Therefore, the Bishop’s obedience is not to a person, but to the Church, whose leader is Jesus Christ. Within the Holy Synod, whether one is a Metropolitan or an auxiliary Bishop, there is no worldly notion of a relationship of superior-subordinate with the President of the Synod, but rather there is a relationship of the First among equals.

That is, all obey their archpriestly conscience, whose leader is Christ Himself, and they decide together in a conciliar manner.

This obedience is expressed through the Bishop’s archpriestly conscience and through the truth of the dogmas and canons which guide him, if he is consistent with the above, every time he makes a decision.

It goes without saying that respect should be given to every Primate who, together with others, ordains a Bishop equal to himself in ordination, although he is administratively First among equals.

This, however, does not mean that when there exists a disagreement the Bishop is forbidden from exercising criticism according to his archpriestly conscience or, even worse, that he is beholden to obey, ignoring the dogmatic, canonical and liturgical tradition of the Church.

Therefore, it is impossible for the Bishop to be bound and to submit to organs of authority or persons who, according to his opinion, are violating the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

It our Orthodox Church it goes without saying that we meet freely with our brother Bishops to exchange opinions, discuss and ponder timely and important issues which concern the internal and canonical life of our metropolises and our local Church, as well as ecumenical Orthodoxy in general.

That which is contraindicated is when that meeting is of a factional character, has conspiratorial content, and aims at undermining the synodal system, the non-recognition of the Primate and of the order of our Church.

In this case, that is not at all happening. What is glaringly obvious, however, with what has happened, is the blatant violation of the Sacred Canons and the non-observance of the relevant decisions of the Holy Synod and the Statutory Charter of the Church of Cyprus.

The Sacred Canons and the provisions of the Statutory Charter, as well as the decisions of the Holy Synod regarding the subject at hand are unambiguous and clearly mean that the Protos cannot on his own, without the opinion of the Holy Synod, decide on matters of dogma, the canons or the order of worship (Article 7, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Statutory Charter), nor, on the other hand, can the Synod do the same without the Protos.

I am sorry to note that in the ecclesiastical issue at hand, geopolitical games were mobilized and in this way a highly spiritual and theological issue was transferred to the domain of petty politics.

It is a great honor for the that the Church of Cyprus sent me to study theology in Russia, by order of Archbishop Chrysostomos I of blessed memory and with the blessing of my abbot at the time, Nikephoros of Kykkos.

This mission aimed, in addition to the studies, to strengthen the interecclesiastical relations between the Churches of Cyprus and Russia and to take responsibility for and promote religious pilgrimage tourism as well as the spiritual care of Russian- and Slavic-speaking Orthodox living on our island.

I think that I have done and am doing everything in my power to be consistent with the mission of my Church which has, indeed, had quite important results, I believe, for the Church and for thousands of our fellow human beings.

The respective Archbishops and Presidents of the Republic, as well as many Ministers and Members of Parliament from all governments from the 1990s until today, have not only privately but also publicly praised me for this activity of mine and have emphasized its benefit to our Cyprus, urging me to continue.

In this place that has suffered injustice, anyone who can offer anything good in his own capacity must do so.

Therefore, any malicious and malignant distortion of the truth regarding this issue is intended to obscure recent unpleasant ecclesiastical events from their true theological dimension.

With great sadness, I note what happened with Senator McCarthy in the USA, where anyone who studied or had any connection with Russian culture, literature, science and arts was accused of being a Communist and an enemy of the people.

This tactic does not at all discourage me because, as a Bishop with an archpriestly conscience, I am charged with serving the truth until the end, for this truth is fully identified with the Body and purpose of the Church and indeed is fully in harmony with the Person of Christ.

Without a doubt, our judge is and remains God, the Holy Synod and the pious fullness of our Church, which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The original Greek of the letter, which was published on November 2, 2020, can be found here.

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