Two monks are set to be defrocked after allegedly being found with €800,000 in cash and captured on camera engaging in sexual activity with each other, it emerged on Thursday.

According to two sources speaking to the Cyprus Mail, the Holy Synod will convene on Friday in a snap session to address the allegations surrounding the Osiou Avvakoum monastery in Fterikoudi village.

Although no report has been filed with the police, the sources indicate that the synod may request their involvement, along with that of the attorney-general.

‘Show me the money’

According to two sources close to the matter, both monks admitted to engaging in sexual relations with each other – a statement refuted later in the day by the monks’ lawyers.

The men of the cloth were found to own property in Greece and Limassol and were found with €800,000 cash in a safe box, the sources specified.

They “did not provide sufficient explanations” for how they came to have this much money and property in their possession.

Nonetheless, “after their admission, the Holy Synod can now take a decision,” a source said.

Victims of criminal behaviour?

In a surprise twist, lawyers for the monks, Adrianna Klaedes and Nikolaos Koulouris, outright rejected the allegations, saying, “No financial mismanagement and no scandal have affected the monastery since its foundation in 2020.” They demanded the Synod must have a hearing and allow the monks to present their side of the argument.

They argued that the data used against the monks was “fabricated and the result of criminal behaviour,” including illegal recording and processing of audiovisual material.

The lawyers said the monastery has been “a spiritual beacon and place of peace… for the Orthodox Christians of Cyprus.”

Tamassos Bishop Isias shut down the monastery earlier in the week after the investigation began two months ago.

It takes a village

“He went to the monastery without notice to surprise them and acted immediately, to make sure the evidence is not tarnished,” a church source said. The bishop was accompanied with a team including economists and financial advisors who could help with the property and cash investigations.

The two monks could not answer for their “unethical acts”, the source said, referring to how they broke their vow of celibacy.

Theologian Theodoros Kyriacou said suspicions and rumours “had been circulating for a long time” though he could not recall exactly when.

Nonetheless, there had been “warning signs” including “repeated calls for donations” made by the monastery.

“This is basically begging.”

Silencing opposition?

Another source hinted some of the cash may have come from the finances given for renovations at the monastery.

Kyriacou said he had raised the matter to the church and the monks moved to sue him a year ago. They were urged to withdraw the lawsuit by Tamassos Bishop Isias, but they did not.

“Disobeying the order results in an immediate defrocking,” Kyriacou said.

He underlined the monks are in their 30’s and 40’s.

“This is a homosexual scandal.”

Residents were also deeply upset by the monastery “because it shut down businesses in the village,” Kyriacou added.

This is because the monks allegedly got involved in businesses competing with the villagers such as halloumi or pitta, leading many to lose their livelihoods, he specified.

Fake miracles for money

A resident in Fterikoudi village said “we are not surprised by this.” Speaking on condition of anonymity she said none of the allegations have shocked the residents.

Reports said the monks would use artificial myrrh on a cross that would have a stream eject from it, which they allegedly claimed was a sign of a miracle. This attracted more people – and more donations to the church.

Surveillance cameras also captured the monks having sex with each other, sources said, with one report claiming there was a camera in a bedroom.

The bishop’s office said no comment would be made until the Holy Synod decision tomorrow.