The Decision of the Holy Synod of Cyprus and Reactions

Yesterday, November 25, 2020, the Holy Synod of Cyprus, by a vote of 10-7, issued the following statement:

The Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, during its sessions of November 23 and 25, 2020, discussed in detail the Ukrainian Ecclesiastical Question as well as the problem that was created by the commemoration of Epifany as Primate of the Church of Ukraine on the part of His Beatitutude the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos, and it decided not to oppose the above decision of His Beatitude.

At the same time, the Holy Synod looks forward to a wider consultation in which everyone may work to overcome the current crisis which threatens the Church of Christ with schism.

Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus

November 25, 2020

Archbishop Chrysostomos’ decision had previously received emphatic opposition from four metropolitans on the synod. In an interview following the decision, Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos made the following statement:

The proposal of the [Metropolitan] of Paphos passed. We opposed his proposal. We did not agree. The proposal concerned the recognition of Epifany as primate of Ukraine. The decision does not bind us. We have examples in Orthodoxy where only one disagreed and was later justified: Mark Eugenikos. He disagreed and did not sign the acts of the council although they were signed by everyone. History justified him and in 1484 the Council of Ferrara-Florence was annulled and Mark Eugenikos emerged as a saint of our Church.

The compromise proposed to the Holy Synod by Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos:

The Holy Synod of the Most Holy Church of Cyprus, during its last two sessions on November 23 and 25, after lengthy and in-depth discussions about the complex and thorny Ukrainian Question, as well as the problem created by the sudden commemoration of Epifany as “primate” of the Ukrainian Church, against the unanimous synodal decision of February 18, 2019, took the decision, in order to avoid the disunity and division of the Apostolic Church of our saint-begetting Island, to follow not the path of akrivia, but the path of economia, which great Fathers of our Church also followed over the centuries and which, for the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the preeminent mystery of love, peace and reconciliation.

Our Holy Synod, bearing in mind all of the above, taking care for the unity of our Orthodox Church, decided not to oppose the decision of His Beatitude our Archbishop as “Metropolitan” of Kiev without, however, proceeding to concelebration and full Eucharistic communion.

At the same time, however, the Holy Synod respects the position of her Synodal Members in accordance with the unanimous synodal decision of the session of February 18, 2019.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus looks forward to a pan-Orthodox consultation where all the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, without the influence of outside political powers and the influence of geostrategic and global economic interests, they may demonstrate their archpriestly wisdom and work to overcome the present crisis, which threatens the worldwide Orthodox Church of Christ with a catastrophic schism.

The statement to the Synod by Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos :

I would like to present to the Holy Synod my theological views which I have expressed during recent sessions of our Holy Synod in relation to the Ukrainian Question, which have led me to reject any proposal that would legitimize this schismatic Church.

  1. I declare my absolute respect and unwavering commitment to the synodal polity of the Orthodox Church, as defined by the Orthodox ecclesiology of the Holy Canons (Apostolic Canon 34, etc.) and the Statutory Charter of the Church of Cyprus (Article 7, 1-2 and 12, 1-2). The Holy Synod alone has the exclusive right to “regulate the relations of the Church of Cyprus with the other Orthodox Churches” (Article 7, 2 of the Statutory Charter) and the Primate is called to express the synodal decision (Article 7, 2.a-c).
  2. I insist on the unanimous decision of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus of February 18, 2019, which, unfortunately, was violated by the Archbishop. In particular, I reiterate my serious concerns and doubts which were expressed in the previous synodal decision due to the absence of Apostolic Succession in the Leadership of the so-called Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Consequently, I cannot accept the validity of the ordination and sacraments performed by this Leadership.
  3. I reiterate the firm position of the Church of Cyprus that the only canonical Primate of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev. Therefore, following the canonical requirement that there “not be two bishops in the same city” (Canon 8 of the First Ecumenical Council), I refuse to recognize another “primate” when, indeed, he does not even have canonical and valid ordination.
  4. My refusal to recognize the new ecclesiastical structure and its “primate” Epifany is based on the teaching, the faith and the ecclesiastical and canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church. This is not a disagreement about merely administrative or minor issues, but rather is at the core of Orthodox ecclesiology and the teaching of our Orthodox Church about the holy Sacraments and Apostolic Succesion, matters that bear on our salvation. These issues cannot be discussed or negotiated in a hasty synodal process nor can it, indeed, be subject to the approval of an occasional, bare majority.
  5. Therefore, I consider the Archbishop’s choice to commemorate Epifany to be arbitrary, anti-canonical and blatantly contrary to our ecclesiastical tradition, Orthodox ecclesiology and the unanimous decision of the Holy Synod of February 18, 2019. It indicates the beginning of the overthrow of the synodal polity of our Church with unpredictable consequences.
  6. Guardians of the unity of the Church of Cyprus and of our people, during this difficult period and for the time being, following the practice according to economy taught and practiced by the Fathers of the Church, I will not cease commemoration of the Archbishop of Cyprus, but concelebration with the Archbishop it is left to my archpriestly conscience on account of his insistence on commemorating Epifany.

As a bishop of the Apostolic Church of Cyprus, I submit the above with great pain and agony and with a heightened sense of responsibility before my archpriestly conscience for the flock with which we have been entrusted by God’s mercy, for pan-Orthodox communion and unity far removed from ethnophyletistic, economic or other extra-ecclesiastical dependency, pettiness and expediency, seeking exclusively to safeguard the “faith given once to the saints” (Jude 3) and the peace of the Church “which the Lord purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

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