Russian community on Cyprus wants its own church
Limassol's Russian community wants its own church
By Anna Hassapi
PLANS BY Limassol's Russian Orthodox community for their own place of worship are being held up by an ownership row between the local Church and the Moscow Patriarch.
Limassol's burgeoning Russian community has been asking for a Russian Orthodox Church for years. In the meantime, the Russian congregation has been granted use of the small chapel of Ayios Stylianos in Linopetra. The chapel, however, is too small to fit all the churchgoers, who are forced to stand in the yard, raising issues of safety, as well as causing complaints by local residents over traffic and lack of parking.
"Winter is coming and we cannot have people standing in the church yard. Last year we covered some of the open space next to the chapel with nylon to have some basic protection from cold and rain.
"Then we installed loudspeakers outside, so that people in the yard could follow Sunday service. There's just too many people! This situation cannot continue," said Father Savvas Michaelides, the priest at the Russian Orthodox Church.
The dispute has been going on for four years and is essentially about who will have jurisdiction over the church, the Bishop of Limassol or the Patriarch of Moscow?
The Patriarchy of Moscow argues that as the people who will build and congregate the church are Russian immigrants living in Limassol, and that as such the church should be under the control of the Russian Church.
The Patriarch even offered to compromise by allowing the church's priest to be under the authority of the Limassol Bishop, while the property itself remained under the control of the Moscow Patriarch.
The offer was rejected. According to the Bishop of Limassol the issue cannot be solved at the local level. So, the dispute should be taken before the Holy Synod to reach a decision.
Adding to the problems, are the complaints of the local residents living next to the chapel of Ayios Stylianos at the Linopetra refugee estate. The residents say they are tired of the mass arrival of the congregation [!!!], particularly every Sunday, which they claim has been causing traffic congestion and even taking up the estate parking spaces.
The Russian community has already raised a significant amount for the construction of a larger church. The Archbishop of Cyprus has already granted a piece of land at the exclusive Kalogiroi area of Yermasoyia.
Construction of this church has already begun, but it is uncertain when the project will finish.
What is certain is that the Church of Cyprus must give its blessing before this happens.
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