Former Kiti bishop Chrysostomos will be put on a sabbatical until his appeal against a guilty sexual assault verdict concludes, the Holy Synod decided on Tuesday.
Speaking after the meeting, Holy Synod secretary Archimandrite Georgios said until the appeal is examined, the former bishop will be placed on sabbatical.
“The Holy Synod authorises the Bishop of Kiti Nektarios to apply everything foreseen under article 15 paragraph 2 of the church laws for his relocation and rights,” the secretary said.
The article outlines a pay slash of up to 50 per cent.
The former Kiti bishop is also still living at the Kiti bishopric complex in Larnaca, but with the decision on Tuesday, he is set to be relocated.
Chrysostomos filed his appeal against the guilty verdict for sexual assault on Friday morning.
Last month the cleric was found guilty of assaulting a teenage girl, who was 16 years old in 1981, when he was still in his post.
After a lengthy trial that began in May 2022, the former bishop was convicted of the charge of indecent assault, as the court deemed the testimony of the now 58-year-old, as well as the defence witnesses, to be credible.
Speaking at a protest held as the synod was meeting, the general secretary of the of the women’s movement Pogo, Skevi Koukouma said that any decision aside from excommunication is a half measure.
“Whatever decision is made, except for excommunication, is a half measure that will disappoint us and sadden us and show that the Holy Synod failed to rise to the occasion following the situation that has been created and the court decision,” she told journalists.
Another protester Argentoulla Ioannou said that they gathered because they expected the Holy Synod to follow the decision of the court and defrock the cleric.
“The Holy Synod should finally send the correct message to the people that such actions are unacceptable,” she said.
Also present at the protest was the head of the animal party Kyriacos Kyriacou, who said that violence should be condemned in all its forms.
Dozens of people were protesting outside the archbishopric although their numbers were overshadowed by those of the police.
Commenting on the large-scale police presence, Koukouma said: “Of course, we are surprised by the stance of the police, which sent more officers than people gathered for the protest and put limitations on where we can stand and would not let us approach the fence.”
During the protest, women gathered read parts of the Larnaca district court’s ruling the day the former cleric was dealt his guilty verdict.
He was handed a one-year suspended sentence two weeks after the verdict, when the courtroom erupted into chants of “filthy rapist” as a loud protest took place outside. The bishop was escorted out surrounded by police officers, as demonstrators tried to attack his car while screaming at him.
“First you tell us to break the silence, then you whitewash a rapist,” demonstrators, including women’s groups, chanted.
During the trial, the plaintiff claimed that during her first visit to Chrysostomos’ office at the Kiti bishopric, the bishop sat down beside her on a sofa and began touching her hands.
He allegedly assaulted her on her fifth visit when the cleric shoved her, pressed himself on top of her and kissed her on the lips. She began repeatedly screaming “let me out,” at which point she claimed the bishop got off her and opened the door.
On Tuesday, the Holy Synod also decided that they will look further into the excommunication of theologian Andreas Pitsillides and the permanent sabbatical of Pangratios Meraklis, a former priest that was accused of homosexuality in the late 90s and put on sabbatical by Archbishop Chrysostomos I.
Speaking after the meeting, Archimandrite Georgios said that Pitsillides will be called to answer the questions of the five-member council of the church on his excommunication, while for Pangratios, the members of the synod will take time familiarise themselves with the details of the case.