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2017

May 2017: Bill removing religion from civil marriage documents
The Cypriot government wants to pass a bill removing religious affiliation from civil marriage documents. The bill was supposed to (...)

May 2017: Bill removing religion from civil marriage documents

The Cypriot government wants to pass a bill removing religious affiliation from civil marriage documents. The bill was supposed to be examined in commission at the House. The aim of this bill is to abolish the obligatory written statement concerning the religion of persons intending to marry. The government is following the recommendations of the Human Rights Commissioner in Cyprus, Eliza Savvidou (ΑΚΡ/ΑΥΤ. 1/2016, in Greek) According to the Ombudswoman’s report, the disclosure of religious beliefs in this context “violates human rights, exposes persons to discrimination and violation of rights of a person in respect of privacy and freedom of thinking, conscience and religion.” She also expressed deep concerns over personal data protection and the possible discrimination faced by people having to report their religious affiliation. A public consultation on the bill has now been undertaken by the Interior ministry.

March 2017: Inauguration of the 1st Russian Orthodox Church in Cyprus

In March 2017, the first Orthodox Church of the Russian tradition was inaugurated with the participation of Greek Cypriot and Russian hierarchs, in Episkopi, in the district of Nicosia. The presence of President Nikos Anastasiades showed the importance the event, in light of the growth in the Russian Orthodox community and the strategic ties between Nicosia and Moscow, all the more important in times of economic crisis. On inauguration day, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, declared: “From now on this church will be a spiritual home for thousands of the Russian-speaking people who reside in Cyprus or visit it. It will be a token of the lasting friendship between the peoples of Russia and Cyprus and of the centuries-old ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Cyprus.” (The Russian Orthodox Church).

D 21 July 2017    ANicolas Kazarian

2016

December 2016: The Church of Cyprus and the Reunification Talks
With a new round of talks on the reunification of the island planned to take place in Geneva a month later, the Holy Synod of the (...)

  • December 2016: The Church of Cyprus and the Reunification Talks

With a new round of talks on the reunification of the island planned to take place in Geneva a month later, the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus expressed its deepest concerns and asked the President of the Republic of Cyprus to inform their body about the development of the Cyprus issue. The statement of the Holy Synod reads: “Following a thorough discussion, all members of the Holy Synod expressed their deepest concern over what is seeing the public light regarding the forthcoming new round of talks in Geneva from January 9 to 12.” (Cyprus Mail) The Holy Synod also decided to invite other political leaders and hear their positions on the issue before taking a stand.

In September 2016, the Holy Synod had already expressed concerns over the direction taken by the talks, especially regarding the future of the Republic of Cyprus and the protection of Hellenism on the island. The September 2016 Statement reads: “If the Republic of Cyprus is abolished and replaced with a new nation based on two equal states, it is certain – Turkey’s policy throughout the years leaves no room for doubt – that very soon Turkey will lead matters to a dead end, and unable to resort to international organizations without Turkish consent, we will be held hostage, spelling the beginning of the end of Hellenism in Cyprus.” (Cyprus Mail) The debate recalls the central place of the Orthodox Church in the Greek Cypriot society.

  • October 2016: Religion in School

In October of this year, Eliza Savvidou, the ombudswoman of Cyprus, decided to take action concerning primary and secondary school children’s visits to religious events, regardless of their religious affiliation or non-affiliation. According to the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) policy, students of religious groups other than Greek Orthodox (i.e. Armenian, Maronite, and Latin Church) can be excused from religious education as part of their right to religious freedom. However, this right seems difficult to implement in schools of the Republic of Cyprus. Regardless of their religion or ethnicity, students are pressured to attend school-organized Church services or religion classes, despite the official neutrality of the State.

It is the official mission of the ombudsman to monitor the implementation of the MoE’s policy on exemptions, and to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the MoE on religious freedom in education. According to the Cyprus 2015 International Religious Freedom Report prepared by the U.S. State Department, the office of the ombudsman received complaints dealing with this issue in 2014.

The Orthodox Church has called for demonstrations against the ombudswoman’s claim of State neutrality. Archbishop Chrysostom opposes the ombudswoman’s authority to monitor whether or not children in school should go to church. The head of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus declared: “It is not her business whether children should go to church or not. The education ministry has its program, and it will not ask the ombudswoman if it should apply it or not.” (See Cyprus Mail). The issue of State neutrality in the context of public education is perceived by the Orthodox Church as a secularization of the Cypriot society imposed by the European Union.

  • March 2016: Church opposes abortion bill

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus is opposed to a proposed bill allowing abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy with no requirement either for an explanation or a medical condition that would prevent carrying to term. The current legislation on abortion in Cyprus allows termination of a pregnancy in case of rape, or if the life of the mother is in danger, or if it could cause "physical and mental damage" to her or to her other children. The proposed bill was discussed at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

In response, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus issued an Encyclical disseminated in all the parishes of the island and calling abortion murder. The document states: "We call on the competent service of the state that have prepared the submitted bill without the required religious and ethnic sensitivity, and without due regard to the traditions of our people, to be prepared to take their responsibilities before God and our nation for changing the national practice."

D 20 December 2016    ANicolas Kazarian

2015

Update July 2015: The 2015 Law on Civil Partnerships
A bill for the civil partnership has been discussed for several years, but has never reached the House of Parliament for approval. On May 6, (...)

Update July 2015: The 2015 Law on Civil Partnerships

A bill for the civil partnership has been discussed for several years, but has never reached the House of Parliament for approval. On May 6, the Minister of Interior Socratis Hasikos announced that the relevant draft bill concerning both heterosexual and same-sex couples was approved by the Cabinet, and would next be sent to the parliament to be discussed and put to a plenum vote.

The Church of Cyprus has been the biggest opponent to the recognition by the State of any union outside traditional marriage between a man and a woman. When asked about the bill, the Archbishop stated that "the Church neither consents nor congratulates the Council of Ministers for the proposed legislation on Civil Partnership, nor will fight against it". At the same time, however, he expressed his concerns on the matter of adoption as he "does not believe that such couples can raise healthy children". In an official statement made by the Holy Synod on June 22, the Church stated that cohabitation in same-sex couples constitutes “a perfect perversion” and urged homosexuals “to fight against and get rid of their passion”.

On July 5, the local newspaper Phileleftheros reported that the Archbishopric had sent to all the churches a circular letter to be read during the Sunday service. The letter said, “in our small homeland that [the civil partnership] is not needed, since we know the behaviour of our people and the love it has towards family”. Furthermore, the strong objections of political parties, and the Church in particular, on the issue of adoption, has led to amend the legislation and include a specific provision explicitly excluding adoptions from the expected bill. It has been announced that the bill will be discussed again in the plenary on Thursday 9 July.

D 15 December 2015    AEleonora Kyriakou

2014

November 2014: Archbishopric of Cyprus to invest in a € 7bn project
According to the Archbishop of Cyprus, a Hungarian businessman expressed interest in a € 7billion leisure investment in the area (...)

  • November 2014: Archbishopric of Cyprus to invest in a € 7bn project

According to the Archbishop of Cyprus, a Hungarian businessman expressed interest in a € 7billion leisure investment in the area of Yeroskipou, which will include four hotels, a marina and an artificial reef. Plots which are earmarked for this investment will be provided both by the Church and the State. The Council of Ministers (on 05/11/2014) decided in favor of a land license/lease agreement of Yeroskipou state property as part of the state’s policy for the revival of the economy.

The decision of the Council of Ministers caused the reaction of the public, unhappy both for the convenience that was given to the Archbishopric regarding the states land, as well as for its intentions. Local newspaper Phileleftheros (in Greek), claimed the government had already negotiated the lease directly with the Archbishop Chrysostomos, and through him, with his Hungarian partner, without announcing tenders, as required by EU laws. The Minister of Interior was called to give explanations, and stated that many media reports are misleading and that the Republic of Cyprus will announce an open tender procedure for the privatization of state land, as required by the law (see ant1news, in Greek).

  • May 2014: Church of Cyprus against homosexuality

Accept-LGBT Cyprus, an NGO that protects and promotes the rights of the LGBT community, organized the first Gay Pride Festival, which was held in Nicosia on 31 May 2014. Participation exceeded all expectations as many thousands, among them MPs, ambassadors and public figures from the cultural scene, showed up and marched for the right to equal treatment. The festival managed to attract international publicity as many famous artists, such as the stars of Hollywood Whoopi Goldberg and Olympia Doukakis, publicly supported the Pride parade.

The festival also sparked many angry reactions from the Orthodox Christian Church of Cyprus. The Holy Synod stated in an announcement (in Greek) made prior to the festival that “Church and science consider homosexuality a disease of the humankind and an abnormal and unnatural way of life. Therefore they recommend proper treatment and therapy, as well as they object institutional and social support and acceptance”. This gave rise to a public controversy concerning legislation for further gay rights, including a civil partnership law. The Pancyprian Orthodox Christian Movement organized a protest against the Pride parade, and announced its "strong indignation and opposition to the incident". Local and international press made special references to the Church’s opposition, especially after the Bishop of Tamasos and Orinis, Isaiah, petitioned the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to oppose any legislation that would allow gay couples to adopt children (see Philenews).

  • Spring 2014: the Fiasco of the Epitaph Procession

In the spring of 2014, a major announcement brought religion into the heart of the Cyprus issue. It was announced that for the very first time since 1974 (when Turkey invaded Cyprus), Greek Orthodox clergymen and pilgrims would be allowed to celebrate the procession of the Epitaph (an important part of the Orthodox liturgy of Good Friday) through the city of Famagusta (or more precisely, in the Greek part of that city, usually referred to as “varosha” [suburbs]). The “ghost city” of Famagusta remains empty of its former citizens since 1974, and access is controlled by the Turkish army. Its Greek Cypriot inhabitants harbor to this day the dream (or delusion) that they will one day be able to return to their former place of residence.

The announcement about the Epitaph procession was made after meetings held between the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II, and the Muslim mufti of the Turkish Cypriot community. This announcement was soon followed by a publicity campaign that promptly announced that 3,000 people would participate in the procession – an interesting figure, given that the event had not even taken place. International media and journalists were involved in the publicity drive for the event, and the event itself was presented as part of efforts for confidence-building measures between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides. The event of April 18th 2014 was promptly reported by the international press (see for instance in Reuters). The stories circulated left much to be desired – as they failed to report the negative publicity caused by the whole affair as well as the politically irrelevant nature of the religious ritual.
In fact, in spite of the show of good intentions between the island’s religious leaders, the Cyprus’ issue has never been a conflict based on religion as such. Moreover, the two religious leaders are not the leaders of the respective political communities, nor do they participate or are otherwise involved in the ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus’ issue. Third, liturgies have been held in churches in the northern part of Cyprus for several years, and strictly speaking, this was not a completely novel event.

According to news’ reports, the event was promptly attended by representatives of the major political parties of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as many high dignitaries. The impression left by the event was not however uniformly positive: shortly afterwards, the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus made public statements that condemned this effort at religious diplomacy (see Philenews in Greek). The Archbishop considered the event an action that served Turkish interests, and while he declared to remain hopeful of a future “fair” settlement to the Cyprus’ issue, he could not endorse these actions. A few days later, it was announced that additional liturgies – due to be performed in churches in the northern part of the island on April 23rd and May 4th – were postponed.

D 8 December 2014    AEleonora Kyriakou AVictor Roudometof

2012

22 November 2012 : financial matters
In 2012 the island’s economy deteriorated leading to a request of the government for assistance by the EMF, the EU Commission and the IMF. The Church of (...)

  • 22 November 2012 : financial matters

In 2012 the island’s economy deteriorated leading to a request of the government for assistance by the EMF, the EU Commission and the IMF. The Church of Cyprus was severely impacted by the economic crisis taking place in the Republic of Cyprus. In an interview in the daily Kathimerini (Nov. 22, 2012), the Archbishop pointed out that the Church lost nearly 60% of its income due to the financial fallout.
The conclusion (in March 2012) of a major agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the Church of Cyprus concerning taxation is of critical importance for the future standing of the Church of Cyprus. The issue of taxation has been a major bone of contention between the Church and the State, with the Left accusing the Church of trying to avoid the tax of its income. An interim 2005 agreement between the Minister of Finance and the Church was never forwarded to the government for approval, and it was only in March 2012 that Minister of Finance K. Kazamias and Archbishop Chrysostomos II announced that a final agreement – largely based on the previous 2005 agreement – had been reached. According the Finance Minister, the State would receive 10 to 20 million euros as a result of the agreement. The Archbishop noted the significance of the agreement for concluding this vexing issue.

D 10 December 2012    AVictor Roudometof

2011

11 July 2011 : Explosion at a munitions depot
The year was dominated by the explosion at a munitions depot in the village of Mari in July 11. Not only did the explosion cause several dead and (...)

  • 11 July 2011 : Explosion at a munitions depot

The year was dominated by the explosion at a munitions depot in the village of Mari in July 11. Not only did the explosion cause several dead and injured but also extensive damage to the nearby generating station, whereby leading to extensive problems with the island’s electrical grid. Power outages having occured repeatedly for several weeks, the issue became a central point of reference to the island’s cultural, social and political debates for many months. Harsh accusations were made against the President of the Republic, who was accused of gross incompetence in mishandling the entire issue.

In the aftermath of the explosion and because the Republic’s electricity needs could not be met, arrangements were made for purchasing electricity from the North (the non-recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). This action provoked sharp criticism by the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus. The Archbishop did not hesitate to accuse the AKEL-led government President of the Republic D. Christofias of major moral failings in their dealing with the entire issue.

This criticism was in accordance with the political platform the Archbishop announced in the course of the year – namely, to look for a suitable candidate for the next presidential elections that would “unite” the people. This is in the ligne of the Archbishop’s persistent negative criticism against the President with regard to his handling of the “Cyprus issue” in inter-communal talks, but it drew sharp criticism by the island’s two main political parties– the right wing DISY and the left-wing AKEL.
However, to a degree, the Archbishop’s proposal coincided with efforts undertaken by the rest of the political parties, which have since attempted to flesh out an agreement among them in order to rally behind a single candidate in the next presidential elections.

D 8 August 2011    AVictor Roudometof

2010

6 May 2010 : Visit of Pope Benedict XVI on the island
There were two important ecclesiastical events in Cyprus in the year 2010. The first was the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on the island (...)

  • 6 May 2010 : Visit of Pope Benedict XVI on the island

There were two important ecclesiastical events in Cyprus in the year 2010. The first was the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on the island (06/05/2010). In spite of small groups who protested against the visit, both state and ecclesiastical leadership met and honored the Pope in his visit on the island. Some 4,000 people (mostly Catholics living on the island) attended the Pope’s speech. The Pope also met with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, D. Christofias during his two-day visit.

  • 14 September 2010 : New Constitutional Charter of the Church of Cyprus

The other major event was the announcement (on 14/09/2010) of the new Constitutional Charter of the Church of Cyprus (see previous debates, 2009). The new Charter includes several changes in the operation of ecclesiastical affairs. A key provision is a new way of electing bishops and archbishop. While the laity will continue to participate in elections for these posts, power shifts more on the side of the Synod who becomes the principal institution in the appointment of new hierarchs. This change signifies both the attempt to have the Church recover from the bad publicity caused by the full scale competition of the 2006 archiepiscopal elections, as well as, the fact that the Orthodox Church of Cyprus currently has a full Synod consisting of 13 bishops. It is possible therefore for the Church to administer its own affairs without the necessity of calling for higher clergy from other territories to intervene in decision-making. Additional provisions in the new Charter call for the establishment of ecclesiastical courts for clerics. Still, the Church guidelines concerning divorce rules (in which the Church is deeply implicated as a matter of law) in the new Charter maintain the tenor and orientation of the previous Constitutional Charter (1980). Accordingly, divorce is granted after four years of marital separation.

D 12 October 2010    AVictor Roudometof

2009

October 2009 : Revision of the Church’s Constitutional Charter
In the Fall of 2009 the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus appears to have reached an agreement with regard to revisions to (...)

  • October 2009 : Revision of the Church’s Constitutional Charter

In the Fall of 2009 the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus appears to have reached an agreement with regard to revisions to the Church’s Constitutional Charter. These revisions aim at rectifying various problems that became evident in the course of the 2006 Archiepiscopal elections.

These revisions include the following points. First, henceforth the Archbishop will be elected via majority vote by the members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The participation of the laity in the process is confined to the selection of the three frontrunners and on the basis of the principle of “one person, one vote”. The Church is empowered to ask the State’s assistance for the purposes of holding the elections at the level of the laity. Second, all members of the high clergy – inclusive of the Archbishop – are appointed for life. Third, the Synod reserves the right to vacate the throne if the Archbishop becomes incapacitated, but only if 75% of its members agree with such a proposal. Fourth, the Synod is endowed with the right to dispose members of the clergy for whom there are indications that they might have committed crimes or otherwise scandalized their flock. Finally, the Church proclaimed its right to have a saying in the teaching of religious education in schools. This last point is related to statements made by the Archbishop in early 2009 that the Church’s intention is to create and operate its own school system, independently of the State.

The Church’s reasserted right to discipline members of the clergy has to be placed into context. Between October 16-23 2009, the Church of Cyprus hosted the meetings of a joint Committee on Interfaith dialogue between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The event triggered vocal protests by more austere members of the clergy and the faithful who protested against the dialogue. Some minor violent incidents took place in Paphos, where the event was taking place and the police had to intervene in order to prevent protesters from disrupting the meeting. In the aftermath of these events, the Archbishop made public statements to the effect that such actions are contrary to the intentions of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, and that clergymen who had participated in the events should be disciplined.

D 3 November 2009    AVictor Roudometof

2008

September 2008: School history curriculum
The beginning of the new school year in the fall of 2008 has brought with it a heated controversy involving the government, political parties and the (...)

  • September 2008: School history curriculum

The beginning of the new school year in the fall of 2008 has brought with it a heated controversy involving the government, political parties and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The cause was a circular issued by the Minister of Culture and Education, Andreas Dimitriou, proposing new guidelines for schools as part of a comprehensive educational reform. The circular put forward a program of cross-cultural education in history lessons that is in line with the current government’s attempts at reconciliation with the Turkish Cypriot community.

The new school curricula should focus on cultural traditions common to both communities thereby advancing an education in the spirit of peaceful coexistence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The minister also suggested inter-communal projects between schools on both sides of the border. The central task of the reform is the revision of the history books currently in use. Despite wide implementations of new history teaching practices throughout Europe, the curricula in Cypriot schools have remained unchanged for decades. The presentation of the history of the Cyprus Conflict is often biased and over-emphasizes certain events to conceal or justify others.

Typically, the Greek Cypriots have focused on the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 as the central problem of the crisis, while the Turkish side has emphasized the attacks on Turkish Cypriots in the 1960, presenting the invasion of 1974 as a peace operation. But while the Turkish Cypriot schools have recently adjusted their school books towards a better presentation of elements of peaceful coexistence between the communities, the Greek-Cypriot curricula continue to teach history as a means to strengthen ethnocentric pride.
The new guidelines for educational reform have caused an outcry in the conservative quarters of the Greek Cypriot society. The Archbishop Chrysostomos II, as well as the party of DISY (Dimokratikos Synagermos) have accused the minister of meddling with history. A major bone of contention is the discussion of the responsibilities of extremist groups for the inter-communal violence of the early 1960s and the ensuing military crisis. The responsibility of groups such as the TMT, but also the EOKA B, is not adequately stated, while the blame for the plight of Cyprus is exclusively assigned to outside forces, such as American imperialism and Turkey.

The suggested correction of history curricula has led the Archbishop, the Bishop of Paphos and members of the previous government to accuse the current administration of wanting to demolish Hellenism and to corrupt the youth. In a rather dramatic response, the Archbishop pledged his unfaltering opposition to the reform, to the point that he would encourage pupils to dispose of their history books, should history be ‘distorted’. With regard to the planned inter-communal projects he also threatened to close the checkpoints.

D 14 October 2008    AIrene Dietzel

2007

January 2007 : Re-establishment of ancient bishoprics of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus
During the last year, a process was completed that begun immediately after the end of the archbishop (...)

  • January 2007 : Re-establishment of ancient bishoprics of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus

During the last year, a process was completed that begun immediately after the end of the archbishop elections in Cyprus and concerned the re-establishment of ancient bishoprics of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. With this reconstitution, the members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus significantly increased, making it complete in terms of church rules and the Church of Cyprus should be able to govern itself without the need for mediation of neighboring patriarchies.

In the first centuries of its existence, the Church of Cyprus had a total of 14 bishops. These were the episcopes Tamasou, Lidras, Trimythountos, Karpasias, Chytron, Kyrineias, Lampousis, Solon, Kitiou, Amathountos, Kourou, Neapolis, Paphos and Arsinoe. Most of these episcopes were dispensed with during the Frankish period (1192-1489) in 1222 with a papal edict (Bulla Cypria of 1260). During the Ottoman period (1571-1878) and during the colonial period (1878-1960) the Church of Cyprus beyond the Archdiocese throne also had the metropolis of Paphos, Kyrineias and Kitiou. Partial increase of metropolitan thrones is noticed after the 1973 religious crisis, when with the initiative of the Archbishop Makarios III, the bishoprics of Limassol and Morphou were created.

With this latest process of re-establishing ancient bishoprics of the Church of Cyprus, the following ancient episcopates were once more reconstituted:

- Metropolis Constantias and Famagusta, established in Famagusta and with a temporary see in Paralimni;
- Metropolis Kykkou and Tillyrias with a See at the monastery Kykkou;
- Metropolis Tamasou and orinis with see at the village Episkopio;
- Metropolis Trimythountos with a See in Trimythounta and with a temporary See in Dali;
- Chorepiskopi of Karpasia;
- Chorepiskopi of Arsinoe;
- Chorepiskopi of Amathouse;
- The Hegymens of the monasteries of Machera and of Saint Neophyte were promoted to the rank of bishop of Lidras and Bishop of Chytron respectively.As the reader may imagine, the formal process of reconstitution of these seats took several month.

The full list of the members of the current Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus is available as a pdf document.

Michalis N. Michail; translated from Greek by Margarita Mino.

D 15 March 2007   

2006

September 2006 : Election of the new Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus
From September 24 2006 until November 12 2006 three successive rounds of elections took place for the election of the new (...)

  • September 2006 : Election of the new Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus

From September 24 2006 until November 12 2006 three successive rounds of elections took place for the election of the new Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus [see August 2006 update for background ]. During the first round of elections – which took place nation wide on September 24 2006 – the laity elected 1,400 representatives. In the next round of the elections, these representatives elected 100 electors who together with 31 clergymen formed the electoral body that was responsible for electing the new Archbishop.

According to the Constitution of the Church of Cyprus, in order for a person to be elected to the throne it is necessary to obtain a majority of votes both among the laity and the clergy. If no candidate is successful, then the leading candidates of the laity and the clergy move on to the next round of voting, where simple majority rules apply.

The three main contenders that emerged from the September 24 2006 popular vote were the bishop of Kykkos Nikiforos, the bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos and the bishop of Limassol Athanasios. While all believers could cast a vote, participation rate was only approximately 50%. The bishops of Kykkos and Limassol took the overwhelming majority of popular vote, thereby controlling 90 of the 100 laity electors. The bishop of Paphos, however, controlled the majority of the votes among the clergy.

After some ingenious political moves, the final two candidates were the bishops of Paphos Chrysostomos and Limassol Athanasios. Just prior to the final vote, though, the bishop of Paphos met with the bishop of Kykkos and the majority of the Synod’s members. The two sides reached a formal agreement. The agreement stipulated that the bishop of Paphos would receive the bishops’ electoral support during the final round of voting in exchange for upgrading the role of the Synod and increasing the number of bishoprics in the island. Subsequently, the bishop of Paphos was promptly elected to the throne as Chrysostomos II. His ascent took place on November 12 2006.

The bitter public rivalry among the bishops, the heated electoral campaign and the Byzantine voting system did not contribute to uplifting the Church’s image among the public. Following his ascent to the throne, the new Archbishop publicly commented on the need for the Church to smooth out the bad impression caused by the “excesses” of the electoral campaign and for revising the Church’s Constitutional Charter in order to avoid the possible repetition of such an open competition among the higher clergy. Despite these problems, Chrysostomos II’s election ended – for the foreseeable future – the bitter rivalry between Nikiforos and Athanasios. It also signified a continuation with the Church’s past public involvement in the island’s national life.

  • August 2006 : Archbishoprical elections, the candidates’ electoral image

By mid-August, the electoral campaign for the archbishopric throne of the Church of Cyprus is in full swing. Four hierarchs appear to be the main competitors at this point in time. Candidates use various leaflets and pamphlets to publicize their own profiles. These are circulated in churches or just dropped off in individual homes and appartment complexes. Based on an examination of these pamphlets, there follow the electoral self-images of the four main competitors, as they have been reported by the newspaper Phileleftheros (Aug. 13th 2006).

- Chrysostomos, Bishop of Paphou. In addition to his post, Chrysostomos serves as the Chairperson of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus. His electoral pamphlets highlight his key role in safeguarding the archbishopric’s property during reports of financial mismanagement in the last few years. Moreover, the Bishop is fairly well known for his strong opposition to the 2004 Annan Plan.

- Chrysostomos, Bishop of Kition (a. k. a. port of Larnaca). Leaflets and ads circulated on his behalf stress the modernist and open-minded orientation of this hierarch. Prominently displayed are also his close relationship with legendary archbishop and former President of the Republic Makarios III. Additional patriotic credentials include photos from his 1989 arrest by Turkish Cypriot authorities, when, while leading a women’s protest, he entered the Church of St. Kassianos, which is located in the occupied territories.

- Athanasios, Bishop of Limassol. Leaflets and articles in the bishopric’s journal highlight the “spirituality” of Athanasios but also his activist and energetic role in strengthening the status of lower clergy. The Bishop has been on the forefront of consecrating young priests with higher education credentials, supporting efforts to create a rehabilitation center, contributing to the creation of an unemployment center and a family support center, supporting conferences on divorce rates, etc.

- Nikiforos, Bishop of Kykkou. By most accounts, Nikiforos remains the most popular bishop among the Cypriot public (see the June 2006 report). However, because the electoral system is based on the election of representatives both from the laity and the priesthood, it is not possible to predict the election’s final outcome. Leaflets circulating on his behalf stress the wide appeal of Nikiforos as someone who transcends provincialism and who is capable of providing leadership that encompasses the vast majority of the Orthodox population. His activities are voluminous, inclusive of his multifaceted support toward efforts to build good community relationships with the Turkish Cypriot community, his long standing charity work, etc.

According to journalists´ reports, of the above mentioned hierarchs, the bishops of Kykkou and Limessol appear to be willing to stay in the race until the Sept. 24th elections.

  • May 17th 2006 : Elections for the Archbishopric of the Church of Cyprus

An expanded Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus was held under the auspices of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Synod decided to vacate the throne of the Archbishopric of the Church of Cyprus, due to the chronic illness of Archbishop Chrysostomos.This decision was the culmination of several years of internal discussions within the Church of Cyprus´ hierarchy about when, how, and under what circumstances the throne ought to be vacated. According to the Constitution of the Church of Cyprus, following the vacation of the throne, it is necessary to proceed with elections for a new Archbishop.

Unlike several other Eastern Orthodox Churches, in the Church of Cyprus, both the local bishops and the Archbishop (who acts as the head of the Church and presider of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus) are elected from the laity. Elections for these positions are a regular feature of Cypriot ecclesiastical life.Following this decision, the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus has initiated the necessary steps in order to organize the electorate that is set to elect the new Archbishop. The necessary encyclicals have already been circulated. Currently, the elections have been set to take place on September 24th 2006.

There are several contenders among the higher clergy of the Church of Cyprus. However, according to recent polls, the frontrunner is Nikoforos, Bishop of the Kykkos Monastery. The Kykkos Monastery is one of the most well known and prestigious monasteries in the island but also throughout Eastern Orthodoxy. The Monastery enjoys extensive property holdings and is party to several entrepreneurial activities, all of which contribute to its ability to conduct charity work, to collect and display Cypriot artwork from the Byzantine times, and to have its own Cultural Foundation.

For further information, see:
- A brief overview of the history of these elections in 20th century Cyprus : Archbishopric Elections in Cyprus: A Historical Overview of the 20th Century , Nicosia: Power Publ., 2005 (in Greek).
- The Church of Cyprus´ official website (in Greek).
- A presentation of the Kykkos Monastery (in Greek).

D 20 December 2006   

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