By Paul Goble
Christos II, the primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, has recognized the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, making his ancient church the fourth to do so since Constantinople extended the tomos two years ago and constituting another defeat for Moscow which continues to try to prevent such actions.
At a service today, Christos signaled this breakthrough by mentioning Metropolitan Epifany, the head of the autocephalous Ukrainian Church, as the leader of one of ten autocephalous churches in the world (gordonua.com/news/society/eshche-odna-cerkov-priznala-avtokefaliyu-pcu-1524402.html).
This is an especially important development for two reasons. On the one hand, Moscow has been working hard at all levels in the other autocephalous churches to prevent them from moving in this direction. And on the other, the Russian authorities have particular influence in Cyprus because of the large Russian business and financial presence there.
In fact, while Christos II has now recognized the Ukrainian church, one of his subordinates, Metropolitan Afanasy of Limasol, opposes this move and in protest walked out of the service when the primate mentioned Ukraine (rossaprimavera.ru/news/035881c7).
In response, Christos said that he would convene the synod of his church to confirm what he has done, clearly confident that he has the backing of a majority of his church’s 16 bishops and accept his argument that what he is doing is for the good of the Orthodox Church and Christianity more generally.
Russia’s Credo.press portal reports that the dissident metropolitan Afanasy is reported by many Cypriot media outlets as having become dependent on Russian contributions to his church and that he may have used them in a corrupt manner by keeping them in offshore accounts (credo.press/233647/).