By Constantinos Psillides
The church is forgiving by nature and obliged to spread that forgiveness, Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Tuesday, responding to accusations by AKEL general secretary Andros Kyprianou that the primate forgave those who took part in the July 15 coup in 1974.
“We all make mistakes. We all commit sins. The church is forgiving and he who asks for forgiveness and repents shall be embraced because we are all children of God. This is the church’s stance and as responsible representatives of the church, we cannot do anything else than to follow,” Chrysostomos said after a memorial service for the 21 commandos that were part of the team that launched an assault against the presidential palace and attempted to murder then president Makarios.
Attending the memorial service of the 22 has been a point of friction between AKEL and Chrysostomos since 2007, a year after Chrysostomos was elected head of the Cyprus church.
Until 2007 it was customary for the Archbishop to attend the memorial service of those who fought against the coup, at the Ayios Constantinos and Ayia Eleni cemetery in Nicosia.
The 22 commandos are buried in the same cemetery and in 2007 Chrysostomos also attended their memorial service, despite fierce protest from AKEL who saw the act as equating those who tried to overthrow the government with those that tried to defend it.
Chrysostomos then told the press he had been approached by relatives of the 22 commandos who implored him to attend their memorial service. The Archbishop has been attending both services since.
“We can only wish that the events that divided our country in half never happen again. But we still don’t how this will end. So we have to be cautious, we have to be united and we have to have a clear mind so we can exit the national and financial dead end,” said the Archbishop, when asked what his message was for the anniversary of the coup.
The memorial service was also attended by ruling DISY head Averof Neofytou, Interior minister Socratis Hasikos and EVROKO head Dimitris Syllouris.