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Les finances de l’Eglise de Chypre

The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus states that the autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus has the exclusive right to regulate and administrate its interior affairs and property in accordance with the ecclesiastical law and the Church’s own Charter. Since the Church is not obliged to disclose its financial assets, information regarding income, expenditure and contributions are limited and are mainly stemming from the Archbishop’s interviews.

Nevertheless, the Church of Cyprus is considered to be one of the wealthiest organizations in the country. The main source of income for the Church comes from the banking and tourism sectors. The Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus has for many years been the main shareholder of the Hellenic Bank (currently holds the 7.15%), which is the second largest bank in Cyprus. The Church is also the main shareholder (27.09%) of KEO Plc., the largest beverage company on the island. The Church further holds stakes in Vasilikos Cement Works Ltd., a cement factory that is the largest heavy industry in Cyprus. In addition to being a major shareholder, the Church is one of the biggest property owners on the island, offering immovable property for long term rentals. Many hotels are owned by various monasteries and the Archbishopric itself. A portion of the Church’s budget has always been derived from the candle counter, religious ceremonies (weddings, baptisms, funerals), donations made by the faithful and other similar sources.

The 2013 banking crisis significantly reduced the Church’s revenue. The Archbishop announced recently that the Church had no interest in participating in the planned recapitalization of the Hellenic Bank because it could not afford the €16 millions that the bank needed. In 2014, it is estimated that the Church’s losses from its investments in local banks amounted to more than €10 millions. All dioceses and monasteries are currently facing similar economic problems, however the Archbishop publicly clarified that these financial difficulties would not affect the Church’s social work & charitable activities (see Cyprus Mail).

Part of the aforementioned revenues is spent to cover administrative costs, clergy and personnel payroll, maintenance and construction of churches. The Constitution of Cyprus exempts the Church from taxation but the Church, following protracted negotiations with successive governments, has agreed to pay its taxes to the State. A respectable amount of money is being allocated by the Church to third parties : people with low income or unemployed, sick people, charitable organizations and various educational institutions providing scholarships for needy students. Of course, precise financial details on the breakdown of this amount are not publicly available.

Source : Archbishop – Statements/Press Conferences.

D 11 décembre 2014    AEleonora Kyriakou

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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