The Russian embassy in Nicosia has distanced itself from a Russian clergyman operating as the head of a parish in the north of the island, saying he was never ordained by the Russian Orthodox Church.
A spokesperson for the embassy said the cleric has no ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, adding that it fully respects the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus on the island.
The embassy republished a missive – dated February 4 this year – by the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, noting that the priest, who runs a parish in Kyrenia, “is not and has never been a cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, has no canonical ordination and is not in communion with the Plenitude of the Orthodox Church.”
It said the same information had been communicated to the archbishop of Cyprus.
Moscow’s embassy added that official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church conduct services in the south of the island only, and with the assent of the Church of Cyprus.
The priest in question is Alexei Ivanov, who the embassy noted “calls himself a clergyman of the ‘Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’.”
The matter surfaced after daily Phileleftheros reported on the operation of the self-styled ‘Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus’, of which Ivanov is said to be a member.
The daily said Ivanov presides over services at two churches in Kyrenia. It also posted a link to the website of the ‘Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus’ (https://pravkipr.ru/).
According to the report, Ivanov was ordained in 2014 in the north of the island by Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa, the current head of the ‘Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’.
According to Wikipedia, the ‘Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’ is composed of parishes from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or ROCOR, a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).
It consists of parishes from ROCOR who refused to enter into communion with the Moscow Patriarchate in May of 2007. Unlike ROCOR, they are not in communion with any canonical Orthodox Church, while even prior to reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate, ROCOR had maintained communion and concelebrations with the Church of Serbia, and the Jerusalem Patriarchate.