Cypriot hierarch: Ukrainian issue must be solved urgently, crisis worsening
The bestowal of autocephaly to the OCU has poisoned inter-Orthodox relations, the crisis is rapidly deteriorating and threatens a new schism, says Cypriot hierarch.
Orthodoxy at the universal level is represented by unity, which has cracked, said Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos and Tillyria on March 17, 2019, after the festive Divine service on the Day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy in the Kykkos Monastery in Nicosia, the UOC DECR website reports.
In his speech, Metropolitan Nikephoros noted with regret that today “the issue of granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine caused serious, difficult side effects that poisoned inter-Orthodox relations and damaged the Body of Universal Orthodoxy. The emerging crisis situation is rapidly deteriorating and threatens, if not resolved in time, with the creation of a schism, which will significantly affect the unity of Orthodoxy and lead to unpredictable consequences.”
The bishop of the Cyprus Church noted that in the face of the current dramatic situation, none of the Orthodox Churches have the right to remain silent, because all the Local Orthodox Churches constitute one body of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and therefore, according to the Apostle Paul, “when one member suffers all the members suffer with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).
“Throughout its history, the Orthodox Church has confronted many crises. And this is not surprising since the Church has a divine-human organism and the outer, visible part of the Divine-human sacrament includes people with inherent imperfections. The main root of every crisis is the spirit of pride, selfishness and ambition of our bishops. Aren’t these reasons the terrible schism between the East and the West, between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which took place in 1054, is related to? ” said Metropolitan Nikephoros.
Vladyka stressed that “the solution of the problem that worries Orthodoxy is one thing, simple, and at the same time difficult to achieve, – that is the fulfilment of the commandment of love and humility. <...> Therefore, we, Orthodox hierarchs and, above all, Primates of Orthodox Churches, especially those who bear the responsible title of patriarch, must live every day of their lives in the same spirit of Christ’s love and humility that we experience during our Divine service if we want to avoid conflicts and schisms, and so that unity and consensus reign among us.”
Metropolitan Nikephorus noted that "the complete restoration of the unity of the Orthodox Church and the avoidance of a painful schism is an urgent need not only for Orthodoxy but also for culture and history". Therefore, according to him, all Orthodox hierarchs must “go beyond their own good,” act in the spirit of love and develop dialogue.
The Metropolitan of the Cyprus Orthodox Church emphasized that the only way to solve the Ukrainian problem and strengthen the unity of Orthodoxy is to convene the Pan-Orthodox Council as soon as possible, or, if it is very difficult, the Synaxis of the Primates of Orthodox Churches, which, outside the political pressure zone, must speak out in a spirit of prudence to resolve Ukrainian church problem that threatens the unity of Orthodoxy.
“For a long time, our Orthodox Church adheres to its own, conciliar decision-making system. Everyone knows that when a certain problem arose (heresy or schism), the fathers of our Church, taking into account the Orthodox spirit of conciliarity, convened Councils — first Local and then Ecumenical — to solve this problem. In addition, this ancient Orthodox church reality and tradition is expressed in the Epistle of the Holy and Great Council of Crete, which proclaimed that ‘the Orthodox Church embodies its unity and conciliarity in the ‘Council’. Conciliarity penetrates its organization and decision-making method, and determines its path’. And the ink with which this message was written has not dried yet,” concluded Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos and Tillyria.
As the UOJ reported, earlier the cleric of the St. Nicholas Church in Patras (Greece), Protopresbyter Anastasia Gotsopulos expressed concern over the decision of the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate to reinstate Filaret Denisenko, Macarius Maletich and their followers in a hierarchical or priestly rank, and also drew attention to the history of the ordinations of the OCU clergy to warn the Local Orthodox Churches against their hasty recognition, which may result in "the poisoning of the episcopate of universal Orthodoxy".