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Cyprus Church crisis deepens

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  • J Schroedel
    Church crisis deepens By Jacqueline Theodoulou THE CRISIS in the Church of Cyprus deepened yesterday in the wake of the Ecumenical Patriarch s intervention in
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2005
      Church crisis deepens
      By Jacqueline Theodoulou

      THE CRISIS in the Church of Cyprus deepened yesterday in the wake of
      the Ecumenical Patriarch's intervention in the dispute.

      The Church is bitterly divided over whether or not to replace the
      ailing Archbishop Chrysostomos, who suffers from Alzheimer's and has
      for years been unable to perform his duties. The latest crisis was
      sparked by the visit of three bishops to the Patriarch, appealing
      for his intervention. The three - Morphou, Kykkos and Trimithounda -
      oppose the majority view than no elections should be held for as
      long as the Archbishop is alive. Patriarch Bartholomew has responded
      by inviting the Cypriot synod to the Patriarchate next week,
      sparking accusations of infringement on the independence of the
      Cypriot Church.

      In an interview given yesterday, Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos said
      the three had gone to Istanbul without respecting the majority of
      the Holy Synod.

      He added that when the invitations had been received from the
      Ecumenical Patriarch, he would call for a Holy Synod in which the
      next steps would be decided.

      He went on to add that there was no crisis within the Church and
      that any actions taken were silent and peaceful.

      Talking of the three bishops' actions, the Bishop said the Cyprus
      case was not of the same order as the crisis in the Church of

      "In the case of Jerusalem, the vast majority of the Synod had gone
      to the Ecumenical Patriarch. Fifteen out of 18 had voted for it. The
      Bishops of Trimithounta and Kykkos have no vote or right, even
      though they are members of the Holy Synod."

      The bishop added that the synod was acting in the Church's best
      interests and not in the interests of whoever was aspiring to become
      the new Archbishop.

      And he rounded on Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos for calling him a
      "He gave no examples. How did I act like a Pharisee, I don't
      understand," he said.

      "I supported the Bishop of Kykkos a year and a half ago for the
      Archbishopric throne because I believed in him them. But when I
      realised he was unsuitable for the position, I stopped supporting
      him", he continued.

      When asked why he had changed his mind he said such things weren't
      for the public's ears. "He himself knows why I left his side. And so
      does the Holy Synod."

      Following the return of Bishops of Morphou Neophytos, Trimithounta
      Vasilios and Kykkos Nikiforos, hierarchs surfaced their real
      feelings on the matter and sparked rumours of a civil war within the
      Cypriot Church.

      Returning to Larnaca Airport on Wednesday night, it was clear the
      three rebel bishops were pleased with the outcome of their visit.

      In statements, they responded to comments made by Bishop
      Chrysostomos of Kiti, who said on Wednesday that the help of the
      Ecumenical Patriarch had not been requested.

      "It is sad to see the Ecumenical Patriarch portrayed as an invader
      or as a Turkish citizen. have mercy," said the Bishop of Morphou.

      The Bishop of Kykkos also referred to Bishop Chrysostomos' comments,
      talking of "hypocritical and pharisaic attitudes" that the bishops
      would need to overcome.

      According to the Bishop of Morphou, the Patriarch was stunned at the
      suggestion that his action might undermine the autocephaly of the
      Cyprus Church.

      "If I came and established myself in Cyprus and started to ordain,
      then yes, I am interfering, but if I am offering my services, as I
      did in the past to Jerusalem, then that is considered a deaconship,
      not an intervention," the Ecumenical Patriarch reportedly told the

      But the Bishops of Paphos and Kiti have the majority of the Holy
      Synod on their side and are seemingly unwilling to accept the
      validity of Bartholomew's invitation, even if it is issued on a
      personal basis.

      The Bishop of Kiti said the Church had not asked for the Ecumenical
      Patriarch's help and reasoned that the current crisis was due to the
      three Bishops' wish to conduct elections while the current
      Archbishop is still alive, something he is categorically against.

      Asked whether the autocephaly of the Church was in danger, the
      Bishop of Paphos said:

      "We didn't say, either that the Autocephaly is in danger, or that it
      isn't." He added that he was going to fight for the good of "our

      He stressed that he would like to believe that the Ecumenical
      Patriarch "wants to offer his good services and love to the Church
      of Cyprus."

      President Tassos Papadopoulos has expressed his desire for a rapid
      resolution of the matter, not just for the benefit of the Church but
      also for that of the Cypriot public.

      Copyright C Cyprus Mail 2005

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