Some 38 academics from across the world appeared on Monday to have signed an open letter in support of the Bishop Neophytos of Morphou as a police investigation into the controversial comments he made over homosexuality is set to be complete this week.
“The Bishop of Morphou gave a possible scientific explanation of homosexuality without offending individuals. For the church, all individuals are pictures of Christ therefore holy and beloved. Sin however is not acceptable because it destroys a person,” said the letter, which was posted on the website of the Morphou Bishopric, sourcing another blog.
In a bizarre twist, however, one of the signatories, Alexandros Kapsokavadis, denied he had ever signed any such letter and said no one had even asked for his permission to include his name. In a furious post on his Facebook page he said he wanted to report whoever included his name. Kapsokavadis has a Phd in ethnomusicology and is also a musician and teacher.
“What business do I have to publicly express my opinion over matters of the church? What would the church care for my opinion anyway? Since when would I ‘support’ a man that I haven’t even heard of!”
This immediately cast doubt on whether the remaining signatories were also authentic. However several hours after Kapsokavadis’ denial, the letter was still posted on the bishopric’s website, as was the original link of the blog it was sourced from.
The investigation into the bishop centres on statements he made in public that gay men give off a nasty smell and that homosexuality is transferred to a foetus when a pregnant woman has anal sex and enjoys it.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that the investigation was taking place in cooperation with the attorney-general’s office to determine whether comments the bishop had made would be classed as hate speech.
If the legal service determines that the bishop has committed an offence, he will be questioned by officers rather than simply give them an open statement of his own volition.
The letter, supposedly written by the 38 academics, suggested that behind the investigation against the bishop was an attack against Orthodoxy and faith.
Condemning what they called an attack against the bishop, they said the bishop had simply stated the obvious, what the church believes in and what society (in Greece and Cyprus) had accepted until a few years ago.
A bishop speaks with love, they said, seeking to protect his flock. “In no way does this suggest an incitement to hatred or violence towards others!”
The academics also questioned where some saw the ‘offence’ ‘incitement of hatred’ and ‘racism’.
“We believe the orchestrated attack against Morphou wants to drag Cyprus’ justice system into criminal prosecutions…so as to frighten Prelates and the faithful not to speak the Word of God.”
The academics named in the letter – all with Greek names – appear to hail from universities ranging from Greece, UK, France, Germany, the US and Australia with specialties ranging from dentistry, engineering, medicine, economics and theology.
The bishop had also linked the murders of five foreign women and two children by serial killer Nicos Metaxas to abortion. “In a country that carries out so many abortions and murders its children, is it impossible that a murderer could be among us?” he said.
The bishop said it was hypocritical to be saddened by the death of the two children killed by Metaxas when Cyprus carries out so many abortions.
He said that the “murders” were finished and that Metaxas asked for forgiveness from a priest, and confessed to the priest. Metaxas was earlier this summer sentenced to seven life sentences for the murders.