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Synod remains divided over Church of Ukraine but majority won’t oppose Archbishop

The Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus remained divided on Wednesday over the Archbishop’s recognition of the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as a majority decision was taken not to oppose Chrysostomos.

The synod voted ten to seven “not to oppose the … Beatitude’s decision” a statement said, indicating that the rift, or schism, among the Church’s top clergy remained, though the statement avoided calling it as such.

The statement said the synod said it looked forward to wider consultations to overcome the “current crisis that threatens Christ’s Church with a schism.”

The latter referred to the problems between the Churches of Ukraine and Russia which spilled over to other Orthodox countries.

The division in Cyprus started after Archbishop Chrysostomos commemorated the Metropolitan of Kiev and of Ukraine Epiphany among the heads of the Churches, thus recognising the independence or autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine.

The Church of Ukraine was also recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in February 2019 but was excommunicated by the Patriarchate of Moscow, which considers Ukraine part of its canonical territory, by virtue of a concession from Constantinople dating back to 1682.

In 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church severed all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over its endorsement of Ukraine’s request for an autocephalous church.

One of the dissenters, Kykko Bishop Nikiforos had submitted a compromise proposal on Wednesday, which was rejected.

The proposal said the dissenters should not be bound by the Holy Synod decision when it concerns a matter of faith.

It also suggested not to oppose the archbishop’s decision provided he does not conduct liturgy with Epiphany, which would mean official recognition.

“The Holy Synod’s decisions — and it says so in our charter — are binding for all even if they are taken by majority,” Paphos Bishop Georgios said afterwards. “It is not a matter of faith it is a matter of commemorating the primate who will be commemorated by our primate and not us.”

“The matter is closed for the Holy Synod,” Georgios said.

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