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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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