By Stefanos Evripidou
KYKKOS Monastery, the wealthiest of Cyprus, has been crippled by the ongoing economic crisis, forcing it to carry out a series of cutbacks, including layoffs, it was reported yesterday.
According to a report in yesterday’s Alithia, the once wealthy monastery has a debt of €50 million to contend with, causing Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos and Tylliria to have sleepless nights as a result.
The bishop informed staff earlier this week that the monastery would have to suspend the operation of a number of services, mainly: the social and spiritual support centre; a scientific foundation on global religions and culture; a centre for studies; a centre to preserve the Cypriot Greek language; a spiritual centre; and the restoration unit and offices of a museum.
Nikiforos told the paper that it was with great pain of heart that he had to take these measures, under which between 40 and 50 people will be laid off.
He said the initial idea was to suspend these services completely, but then the monastery decided to keep on the directors of the various centres in the hope that they could secure European funding to avoid shutting shop completely.
The bishop said he does not sleep at night from the pain and sadness of the actions he had to take but the monastery simply could not do otherwise as it saw a massive reduction in revenues, which currently represent less than half of costs.
Tenants of the numerous properties under the monastery’s control do not pay their rent, even when court orders are issued against them, said the Kykkos bishop.
Any revenue coming in is used to pay salaries, he said. Staff will be reduced from 256 to around 210 under the new measures.
Nikiforos noted that the monastery suffered a huge blow as a result of the Eurogroup’s decision in March 2013 to ‘bail-in’ Cypriot banks’ deposits, including their own.