CONSTANTINOPLE – His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate upon the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and concelebrated the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
The Ecumenical Patriarch expressed joy when he saw Archbishop Chrysostomos after the latter’s recent health problems that made him travel to the United States for medical treatment.
Archbishop Chrysostomos said that he thanked God for deeming him worthy to make his first trip to the Holy Center of Orthodoxy, saying, “I am grateful the Ecumenical Patriarch invited me to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sunday of Orthodoxy. This is even more important to me after travelling to the United States for my treatment.”
He stressed that the relations of the Churches of Constantinople and Cyprus “will always be fraternal” and noted that he and the Patriarch have been friends for over 42 years.
“We got to know each other when we both were new Bishops in Switzerland at the Pan-Orthodox Conferences.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos stated that “the problem of Orthodoxy for me, and I believe for His All-Holiness too, is not whether I will recognize the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It makes no sense. The problem for me is the problems of Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, some have not realized it yet. I have realized that they have not understood the problems of Orthodoxy. They have not understood what we were doing at the Pan-Orthodox Council. We have done enough, of course, but we do not apply them.”
Concerning the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate beyond its territory and the granting of autocephaly to the local Churches which clearly define their boundaries, the Archbishop said that in recent meetings with other primates he urged them not to exceed those limits, nor did they send their Bishops to foreign jurisdictions, on the pretext that there were many of their compatriots in that region, thus opposing ecclesiastical order and tradition.
Archbishop Chrysostomos in his homily during the Divine Liturgy on Sunday of Orthodoxy at the St. George Patriarchal Cathedral told Ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew that “you are not alone and we are not going to leave you alone.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos also said that “nothing can be challenged. If we look back into the past, there is no Church which has not benefited from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In addition, it is the Ecumenical Patriarchate that established the new Churches. It is ignorance to say something different. The Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople is canonically responsible for Church life. You, the Ecumenical Patriarch, are the one who makes many sacrifices and bears the heavy Cross of all responsibilities of the Orthodox world.”
The Archbishop of Cyprus also referred to the discussions about a new collaboration between Orthodox Churches in order to preserve unity. He said, “had we not had a ‘First’ in the Orthodox Church, we would institute one. We do have a First, but there is equality. The Orthodox Church has chosen him.”
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also referred to the matter of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He said, “any opposition to the matter of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is not canonical. However, there are some who intend to harm the Orthodox Church, aiming at creating a secular institution, which, on the one hand, will be operating in contrast with Church principles and Tradition and, on the other hand, it will be serving foreign interests in clear contradiction with Orthodox ecclesiology and the Synodical character of the Orthodox Church.”
In another instance Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made clear one more time that the decision to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “brought to light the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Throne and gave prominence to the canonical decisions taken at the Ecumenical Synods” and that “it is a long time since they have been applied. The recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the other Orthodox Churches is the basic precondition for achieving unity with the Orthodox world.”
Before Archbishop Chrysostomos departed to return to Cyprus on March 9, at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew he attended, as co-chair, the proceedings of the Holy Synod during its regular monthly meeting for the month of March.
The Ecumenical Patriarch cordially welcomed the Archbishop of Cyprus, pointing out that “today reminds us of the old times when the Primates of the Ancient Patriarchates, who were sojourning for long periods in Constantinople, for several reasons, were invited by our predecessors and participated in the local Synods, contributing to their works. By analogy today, here is the Primate of the ancient Church of Cyprus whose autocephaly goes back to the Third Ecumenical Council.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos reiterated his full support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, pointing out the inalienable spiritual and historical links that link the Mother Church of Constantinople with the Church of Cyprus. Then the Archbishop of Cyprus, and his entourage, joined the Patriarchal ‘Trapeza’ (luncheon).
Out of courtesy, the Ecumenical Patriarch with the Synodal of the Holy Synod and the Patriarchal Court saw off the Primate of the Church of Cyprus on his departure from the venerable Center of the Mother Church with the ringing of the bells of the Patriarchal Church of St. George.