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Cyprus' Archbishop Chrysostomos threatened

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  • Nina_Dimas_42
    http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp? idCategory=33&idsub=128&id=15841&t=A+Schism+in+the+Orthodox+Church%3F A Schism in the Orthodox Church? Russian
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2008
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      http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?
      idCategory=33&idsub=128&id=15841&t=A+Schism+in+the+Orthodox+Church%3F



      A Schism in the Orthodox Church?

      Russian secular and religious leaders may be ganging up to pre-empt
      what they see as a bid for influence in Ukraine on the part of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Church in Russia is seen
      as "department" of government.

      A high-level source at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople
      has told this newspaper that Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus
      cancelled his participation in a pan-Orthodox celebration after
      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened to withdraw support
      of Nicosia on the Cyprus problem.

      Negotiations between Cyprus and the Turkish-Cypriots for political
      reunification are about to reopen on July 25 after more than four
      years in abeyance (see article on page 8).

      "Chrysostomos was subjected to raw and clear blackmail," the source
      said.

      "The Cyprus case proves clearly now that, essentially, the Church of
      Russia is a department of the Russian state. It is not an independent
      church. It is a state organ that expresses Russian state policy at
      the church level," the church source told the Athens News.

      The alleged blackmail from Lavrov came two days ahead of a letter
      dated July 20 from Patriarch Alexei of Moscow to all Orthodox
      patriarchs and archbishops. In the letter, Alexei warns them not to
      attend celebrations for the 1020th anniversary of the
      Christianisation of Ukraine because that could produce a schism like
      the one that split Christendom into East and West in 1054.

      Alexei accuses the ecumenical patriarch of talking to Ukrainian
      schismatics in a bid to undermine Moscow's authority in Kiev.

      The Ukrainian Church (about 9.5 million faithful) is under the
      canonical jurisdiction of Moscow, with Metropolitan Vladimir, but two
      breakaway churches (14.5 million faithful combined) developed after
      the fall of the Soviet Union.

      The one led by Filaret of Kiev seeks independence from Moscow with
      the blessing of Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko. Alexei was
      reportedly enraged when Filaret and Yushchenko's brother visited
      Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on July 14 at the Phanar.

      Another schism?

      Alexei's four-page letter and Lavrov's alleged warning to
      Chrysostomos have opened an explosive rift between the Ecumenical
      Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow. Patriarch Theodoros of
      Alexandria, who once served as church envoy to Moscow, will not go,
      and Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem was hedging until the last
      minute.

      But Archbishop Anastasios of Albania will attend, and Archbishop
      Ieronymos of Greece called an emergency synod on July 22 before
      deciding to go. The patriarchs of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania will
      not attend due to advanced age or health problems.

      Alexei's letter narrowed his earlier invitation for the other
      Orthodox churches to send delegations, asking the leaders of the
      churches "to avoid your personal participation in the celebrations so
      that your presence cannot be interpreted as a show of support for
      possible anti-canonical acts".

      Vartholomeos responded angrily to Alexei on July 22 that his letter
      was "insulting to my person" and included threats based
      on "indiscriminate rumours". Vartholomeos underlined that he had no
      intention of praying with the schismatics, and he again invited
      Alexei to celebrate the liturgy with him in Kiev.

      The Ecumenical Patriarchate privately expressed its outrage to this
      newspaper.

      "The source of the clash between the two patriarchates is precisely
      the significance of Ukraine, which for the Orthodox Church is as
      great as the geostrategic, political, energy and defence importance
      of Ukraine is right now. Ukraine has shifted Westwards in all these
      areas, and it is doing the same ecclesiastically. The West for
      Ukraine means Constantinople, the opposite pole from Moscow, which
      also happens to be Kiev's mother church," the high-level Ecumenical
      Patriarchate cleric told the Athens News.

      Church sources told the Athens News that on July 23 Metropolitan
      Kyril of Smolensk, the Moscow Patriarchate's foreign minister who
      hopes to succeed Alexei, offered autonomy to the canonical
      metropolitan of Kiev, but he refused. He then offered autonomy to the
      schismatic churches, and they also refused, showing that Moscow is
      losing ground rapidly in Ukraine.


      George Gilson writes for Athens News and appears here with permission.
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