Cyprus Mail

Ex-bishop objects to Holy Synod’s forced sabbatical

former bishop of kiti chrysostomos
Former bishop of Kiti Chrysostomos during a court appearance

The former Kiti bishop has spoken out against the Holy Synod decision to put him on forced sabbatical, decrying it as “void” and inconsiderate to his needs.

His lawyer Yiannis Polychronis, confirmed to the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday that he had sent a letter to the Holy Synod on behalf of his client, detailing that the former bishop Chrysostomos should have been called before the synod to give his own version of events.

“They didn’t take into account his serious medical issues, or the issues of his security. There is so much anger against him.”

Asked if he believed the development could be seen as provocative considering the former Kiti bishop was found guilty of sexually assaulting a minor, Polychronis said the bishop was entitled to his rights.

He argued the constitution of the church specifies that the former bishop should have been called before the Holy Synod.

Chrysostomos also argues he should be allowed to continue living in the current Kiti bishopric complex in Larnaca. The Holy Synod decision ordered him to move out, but the bishopric agreed to cough up the rent of his new place.

“He can’t possibly be living in a public space. It will be too dangerous for him with how angry people have been with him. What is he supposed to do, walk around with armed bodyguards?” Polychronis argued.

The former bishop was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for three years. When asked that had the bishop been sent to jail he would have been immune from the protection he now seeks, Polychronis stressed “this would have been a matter we would have taken up with the prisons director.”

Theologian Theodoros Kyriacou told the Cyprus Mail the former bishop was still speaking “as if we’re still living in a time of despots. He thinks his word has the same weight it used to. Things have changed.”

Kyriacou also said it was disrespectful of the former bishop to call the Holy Synod’s decision improper.

“No one asked him if he accepts it. He doesn’t have the means to revoke it.”

The ex-bishop was placed on forced sabbatical last week, and will see his pay cut up to 50 per cent, following a criminal court decision that found him guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl 40 years ago.

Polychronis has taken up the appeal of the case to the Supreme Court.

Kyriacou explained the Holy Synod is the executioner of the church rules and there is no avenue for the former bishop to take the case to a district court.

The lawyer admitted it “would be extremely difficult” to take measures against the Holy Synod, even though he argued the church rules had been “violated” in the case of his client.

Chrysostomos is also being stripped of perks such as having a driver and a cleaner.

Responsible for executing the Holy Synod decision is the existing Bishop of Kiti Nektarios. Due to the fact that the former bishop had not moved out all these years, Nektarios was living in the Agios Georgios monastery.

“This belittles the image of the church,” Kyriacou concluded.

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