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Cyprus

Russian ambassador hopes church schism won’t affect relations

Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy

Russian ambassador to Nicosia has blamed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the crisis among Orthodox churches and the division in the Holy Synod over the recognition of independence of the Church of Ukraine and expressed the hope that it would not affect relations between Russia and Cyprus.

“We are sure that the problems caused by Patriarch Bartholomew will not have negative results in relations between Russia and Cyprus,” Stanislav Osadchiy told the Cyprus News Agency.

The division in the Church of 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.

Observers suggested Chrysostomos did so at the behest of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is at odds with the Russian Orthodox Church.

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.

Osadchiy said what the patriarch did was unacceptable.

“We think Bartholomew violated the canons of the Orthodox Church, he acted unilaterally and has not engaged in consultations with other Orthodox churches on this matter,” the ambassador said.

“It is very obvious that he did this after pressure from outside,” the ambassador said without elaborating. It has been previously suggested that bigger, geopolitical interests were at play behind the crisis.

Osadchiy said he had caused a schism in the Orthodox Church, which continued.

On Wednesday, the Cypriot Holy Synod voted 10 to seven not to oppose the archbishop’s decision, but dissenters did not appear prepared to comply, despite the decision being binding.

The ambassador expressed hope that the schism would not become worse and that the Church of Cyprus would overcome the differences among its clergy.

Wider consultations in a bid to overcome the crisis, as the Holy Synod urged on Wednesday, would only be possible through a return to normal order, the ambassador said.

 

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