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Cypriot Clergy in Sex Scandal

Published: October 17, 2000 (Issue # 612)


NICOSIA, Cyprus - Greek Cypriots are watching in horror as an ugly power struggle plays itself out in their scandal-tainted Church.

Already suffering from the fallout of earlier financial scandals, the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus is now having to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its highest-ranking clerics.

Perhaps more damagingly, the crisis has revealed an institution where relations between its bishops - they call themselves saints - are tinged with venom, and where some have gone to great lengths to smear their adversaries.

In one such case, a man maintained he had sexual relations with a senior male cleric and told a local radio station that he could describe every inch of his lover's body beneath its black vestments. Another has been accused of fathering two children with a devout parishioner.

The accusations, which have been appearing in the media for months, have rattled a society which is conservative by nature and in which sex is a hush-hush subject and homosexuality is definitely taboo.

"People don't want to see the leaders of their church falling to such depths. We don't even see this sort of behavior even during a political election campaign," said theologist Kostis Kyriakides.

Widely credited with preserving the island's Greek Cypriot community during the dominance of numerous conquerors over the centuries, the church, an independent branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is now the butt of crude jokes.

Barnabas, one of Christ's first companions and founder of the Church of Cyprus almost 2000 years ago, would be turning in his grave.

The main feud pits Athanassios, the Bishop of the Limassol district, against his "brother" Bishop Chrysostomos, of the neighboring Paphos district.

Athanassios swept to victory in elections for the bishopric of the sprawling southern port city two years ago, pulling through a campaign tainted with allegations that his mentor was an old man with a particular fondness for young nuns.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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