The mother of a monk who is suing Bishop Athanasios of Limassol told Limassol court on Monday that her son was brainwashed and recruited by ‘confessors’ working with the bishop.
Maria Theodoulou is the mother of a 43-year-old monk and is suing the bishop, other leading clergymen and the attorney-general for actions and omissions that led to her son’s decision.
From the witness stand, Theodoulou, who filed for damages up to €2 million, said that Athanasios placed her son in his crosshairs before the two even met.
She told the court that investigations by her and other monks’ parents led them to the conclusion that children’s confessions with other priests “usually” come before Athanasios takes over.
The bishop’s defence attorney, Marios Hardjiotis, asked Theodoulou when her son may have been targeted, and she replied it was during a series of lectures Athanasios gave at the University of Cyprus in around 2001.
She added that Athanasios knew her son from the university, although he didn’t yet know Athanasios.
“[Athanasios] saw him, spotted him, gathered information about my son,” the woman said.
“The information was processed – the bishop gets information from universities on the people that interest him, whom he wants to lure to his fraternity. Giorgos was unaware. Before Giorgos met Athanasios, Athanasios already knew Giorgos.”
Hardjiotis suggested that Theodoulou has concocted a science-fiction scenario in her head to prove that her son was the “victim of the bishop’s associates and recruiters”.
He submitted that much of the plaintiff’s written statement in court was fabricated and designed to convince the court, as, for example, the serious affair her son had with a woman, which he broke off when he entered the Macheras monastery.
Theodoulou had said that the relationship had been very serious, and her son had intended to marry the woman, but he ended it abruptly in 2003.
“I happened to go the same gym as the woman, and she told me that Giorgos had ended because, he said to her, he decided to take a different path,” Theodoulou said.
Hardjiotis countered that the relationship was ended in 2001.
“It is a fabrication that your son broke off the relationship at Athanasios’ urging, because your son met the bishop seven months after he broke up with the woman,” he said.
With regard to the diary Theodoulou claimed she kept since early 2002, when she first noticed her son “showing symptoms”, Hardjiotis said her writings were the result of her “obsessions”.
“Someone had to pay for your obsession, and that was the bishop,” he charged.
The chronology, he added, suggests that she made a big mistake.
“I had no obsessions or anything of the sort,” she countered.
“He is my son and I know him much better than you.”
She recounted New Year’s eve of 2002, when her son told her he wouldn’t join them at a new year’s party, but would instead go to a vigil.
“I know my son well, and it was odd that he wanted to go to a vigil,” she said.
“I conclude that something triggered this. He had no such tendencies. His behaviour at that time had been incompatible with his life.”
The lawyer told Theodoulou that her son will come to the courtroom and answer any questions she may have, suggesting that he will contradict 90 per cent of her claims.
The hearing continues on Wednesday.