Church of Cyprus crisis deepens
- 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
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
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
"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
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
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 © Cyprus Mail 2005