Cyprus also recognizes the Ukrainian Church of Epifanyj
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II mentions the Metropolitan of Kiev during the Divine Liturgy in Paphos. So far there have been three Orthodox Churches that recognize its autocephaly: Constantinople, which granted it, then Athens and Alexandria of Egypt. Cyprus was evangelized by Paul and Barnabas. Its prestige could lead other autocephalous churches to recognize the Church of Kiev. The Metropolitan of Limassol, Athanasios (Nikolaou) abandoned the celebration in Paphos and four Cypriot bishops contested the recognition of the Ukrainian Church.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - On October 24, during the Divine Liturgy in the monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God in Paphos the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II (Englistriotis, see photo) also commemorated the Metropolitan of Kiev and of Ukraine Epifanyj (Dumenko) among the heads of the Churches.

Epifanyj presides over the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church recognized by Constantinople in February 2019, but excommunicated by the patriarchate of Moscow. Thus, the liturgical proclamation, inserted in the rite of consecration of Bishop Pankratios of Arsinos, implied the rupture of relations with the patriarchate of Moscow, which does not recognize the autonomous Ukrainian Church. The gesture created a certain surprise: The Metropolitan of Limassol, Athanasios (Nikolaou) abandoned the celebration in Paphos and four Cypriot bishops contested the recognition of the Ukrainian Church.

The Archbishop of Cyprus was considered a faithful ally of Moscow, which has always supported the Orthodox Cypriots against the Turks, who occupy more than a third of the territory of the bi-continental island. Cyprus is also one of the favourite "free ports" of wealthy Russians, who deposit their money there and buy Cypriot nationality at a high price, which gives them access to the European Union. Lately this practice has been subjected to various international investigations. The ecclesiastical choice somehow confirms the attempt of the Cypriots to free themselves from the accusations of subjection to the Russians.

The Church of Cyprus is the fourth Autocephalous Orthodox Church to recognize the Ukrainian Church, which ranks fifteenth in the list of national Orthodox Churches. Before Cyprus, the leaders of the Churches of Constantinople (which granted autocephaly), Athens and Alexandria in Egypt, the seat that presides over the entire African continent, proclaimed communion with Kiev.

The patriarchate of Moscow continues to consider Ukraine part of its canonical territory, by virtue of a concession from Constantinople dating back to 1682, the year of "eternal peace" between Russia and the kingdom of Poland-Lithuania.

Indeed, according to some recent rumours, the Moscow patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) has the intention of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian part of the Moscow Church, putting the other Orthodox Churches in serious embarrassment; Russian jurisdiction in Ukraine still has a majority in the country.

So far Moscow has used a "hybrid" system in breaking up relations with other Churches. In the face of the total break with Constantinople, for Athens and Alexandria the Russians distinguish between the various bishops and priests who commemorate or do not commemorate Epifanyj during the liturgies.

With Cyprus, this system is more difficult to apply, as the Cypriot Church is much smaller than the others, with only a dozen ecclesiastical circumscriptions, despite being one of the oldest of the Church.

According to tradition, Cyprus was evangelized by Paul and Barnabas during one of the first apostolic journeys to Antioch in the year 46. The hagiography attributes one of the episcopal sees, that of Citium (Larnaca), even to Lazarus, "the friend of the Lord” Which he resurrected in Bethany. The prestige of the Cypriot Church, which has "betrayed" its loyalty to Moscow, could induce other autocephalous churches to recognize the Church of Kiev.

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