Meeting in Jordan: Will the Church of Cyprus be able to sit it out?
What is the diplomatic neutrality of Archbishop Chrysostomos on the "Ukrainian issue" fraught with?
The Primate of the Cypriot Orthodox Church (СOC), Archbishop Chrysostomos II, did not respond to the invitation of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to the Synaxis of Primates in Jordan. And recently, he has called the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew erroneous. Is such diplomatic equilibristics justified, and how long can it last?
At the end of December 2019, Metropolitan Sergius (Gensitsky) of Ternopil and Kremenets visited Cyprus, where he сoncelebrated the Divine Liturgy with the head of the Church of Cyprus.
At an official meeting after that, Archbishop Chrysostomos stated: “We are waiting and hope that the Patriarch of Constantinople will understand his error. Other primates are unlikely to recognize Epiphany (Dumenko, head of the OCU as Metropolitan of Kyiv – Ed.). Although there were attempts to put pressure on the Patriarch of Jerusalem, he did not yield.”
Nowadays, when representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople convince everyone that the Phanar’s head cannot be wrong in principle, this is a rather bold statement.
The Primate of the COC assured the delegation of the Ternopil Eparchy in support for the canonical UOC. He expects Patriarch Bartholomew to acknowledge the mistake and correct it.
It is more than a year and a half since Patriarch Bartholomew announced at a meeting with the then President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko that he was starting the process of granting the so-called autocephaly to the structure, which was later called the OCU. For this period, the Phanar not only failed to realize its error but with all its actions only made it worse.
Someone may say that a year and a half is a short time, but the Phanar’s papal ambitions, which served as the basis for its actions in Ukraine, arose 100 years ago when the Patriarchate of Constantinople, due to the brutal extermination of the Greeks in Turkey and the exchange of population between Greece and Turkey, lost almost all of its flock in this country.
For 100 years, the hierarchs of Constantinople have made many mistakes in different countries and not only failed to realize them but also theologically justified their right to do so. The heresy of Constantinople’s papism has ripened and developed since the beginning of the 20th century. In Ukraine, it found a very vivid practical embodiment. What does the Archbishop of Cyprus expect?
On January 1, 2020, the “Romfea” agency published a statement by Archbishop Chrysostomos that he left an invitation to the Synaxis of Primates in Jordan unanswered.
“I thought it reasonable not to respond. I did not consider this a serious act. I have not considered this since I received this question from my friend the Patriarch,” Archbishop Chrysostomos II commented on his decision, adding that "only the Ecumenical Patriarch and no one else has the right to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council of Primates."
For a year and a half, the Phanar not only failed to realize its error but with all its actions only made it worse.
But then what about error recognition? Indeed, only the conciliar opinion of the entire Church can really make the Constantinople hierarchs reconsider their decisions on Ukraine and understand that the Church will reject the pope of Constantinople just as it rejected the pope of Rome.
But the Primate of the COC for some reason refuses to participate in a conciliar discussion of the problem. Moreover, he joins the ranks of those who believe that the Phanar’s head has as the exclusive right to convene pan-Orthodox meetings.
Where does this conviction come from? After all, no church canon holds this right for the Patriarch of Constantinople. Logically, to acknowledge that only one person in the world can convene the Pan-Orthodox Council or Synaxis is the same as to recognize him sinless – the one that cannot be wrong. Indeed, in Orthodoxy all wrongdoings have been denounced and cut off from the Church only by the Council. But how can the Council expose the Phanar’s head of wrongdoing if only this patriarch can convene the Council? And naturally, he will never convene if it threatens him with condemnation.
The position of Archbishop Chrysostomos is understandable. He wants to sit it out and wait for the current church crisis to resolve itself. On the one hand, he doesn’t feel like breaking the church canons. On the other hand, there is a lot to do with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
It can be assumed that many other Local Churches take this position to one degree or another. It is very convenient because it seems to be conflict-free. And perhaps it really will allow you to survive the current difficult times without quarreling with anyone.
But there are two essential points.
Firstly, the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew in Ukraine caused real persecution of the Church. It has to defend the very right to exist as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Church communities are forced to fight for their temples, which they built, repaired and maintained. And in many cases, they fail. Temples are seized, and often this happens with violence and beating of parishioners and clergy.
No church canon holds this right for the Patriarch of Constantinople. To acknowledge that only one person in the world can convene the Pan-Orthodox Council or Synaxis is the same as to recognize him sinless.
Now the communities of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro are being persecuted. Although Patriarch Bartholomew said he was not going to grant the Montenegrin schismatics autocephaly, he had said the same thing about the Ukrainian dissenters. And it is unlikely that the Montenegrin authorities would have dared to begin these persecutions if they hadn’t been by the example of Ukraine. This means that both Patriarch Bartholomew and everyone who directly or by default holds for him the right to act in this way, take the side of the persecutors of the Church.
Secondly, to stay away from the current conflict in Orthodoxy and do diplomatic curtsies in one direction or another will be possible for a couple of years at most. 2025 is on the horizon, and with it the round date - 1,700 anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council. And the last statements of both Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew leave no doubt about where the Phanar’s head leads his supporters.
For example, in December 2019, the Apostolic Nuncio to Russia, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, answered the question about the possibility of holding the Ecumenical Council: “We hope that the Ecumenical Council will take place, but someone should convene it. It must be one person who will convene it.”
Perhaps this one person will be the Pope. Or maybe Patriarch Bartholomew. After all, the city of Nicaea, where the First Ecumenical Council was held, is located on the territory of today's Turkey and is called Iznik.
Сould all these assertions that only the Constantinople Patriarch is in power to convene Pan-Orthodox Councils come from here? Many statements of both the top officials of the Vatican and Phanar and people close to them say that in one form or another some kind of union is being prepared.
In a couple of years, if not earlier, all Orthodox Churches, and possibly every bishop inside the Local Churches will have to make a choice: to remain in Orthodoxy or to unite under the “wise” leadership of the Patriarch of Constantinople with Roman Catholics. Then to sit it out definitely will not work.