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Archbishop not surprised by Ayios Mamas liturgy refusal

Archbishop Chrysostomos: sick of the constant criticism of the church

The Turkish Cypriot unrecognised government’s refusal to allow a liturgy at Morphou’s Ayios Mamas cathedral in the north was not surprising, since most such requests are denied, Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Thursday.

“We continuously request to go to all our villages [for religious services] and most of the time the Turkish side’s reaction is to refuse,” the Archbishop told reporters after a meeting with environment commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou.

“We hear ‘no’ very often,” he added.

The Archbishop said the government sometimes goes out of its way to accommodate Turkish Cypriot requests.

“While the government does not allow [Turkish] settlers to cross to the [government-controlled] areas, I have asked the Foreign Ministry to let Turkish pilgrims to pass through the crossing points straight to the mosque and return, without any stops,” he said, adding that the government had approved the request.

“We had a deal with the [Turkish Cypriot] Mufti. It was a concession from our side to let the settlers pass through – they are here illegally. Yesterday I was thinking of saying ‘if you won’t let us [hold the Morphou mass] they will never be allowed to cross over to visit the mosque’. Of course, I didn’t, in hopes that this will be the last time they refuse.”

The former inhabitants of Morphou, Chrysostomos added, don’t ask to go to Ayios Mamas every day, but just once a year.

The Turkish side’s refusal was “unacceptable”, he said.

“It’s not a big deal to allow our villagers to visit their villages once a year and see the church where the oldest have been christened or married – a church they have a relationship with,” the Archbishop said.

“And if the church needs a bit of maintenance, we shouldn’t let our temples collapse, especially the stone-built ones, because if they collapse they can’t be rebuilt. It’s not easy to build a stone temple, because there simply aren’t builders who can build stone anymore, nor technicians to carve stone, create arches, and so on. We told them this thousands of times.”

Chrysostomos said the key issue is the Cyprus problem, which he doesn’t see a solution to.

“If we don’t reposition the national issue on some other basis, I don’t think we’ll get to the end. This is the key.”

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