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  • 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

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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