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Our View: Church scandals raise questions of integrity and accountability

holy synod
Meeting of the Holy Synod

With one of Christianity’s most important dates fast approaching, several church scandals have dominated the headlines during the Lenten period that again raises the question of how much longer this institution that is rife with corruption will enjoy the impunity it has had for centuries.

There is literally no difference between scam artists sending out phishing texts or fraudulent emails making various promises to gullible people, and monks promising miracles for donations, except in the case of the latter the scamming has been legitimised.

The church does have a role in society, and it could be a positive thing. Also, if people want to believe in a God, it’s their absolute right to do so.  But the litany of church scandals down the years culminating in the almost unbelievable goings-on at the Avakoum monastery that were uncovered recently, ought to give many Orthodox believers at least pause for thought, and not the bit about two monks having sex.

The list of transgressions by the church, in terms of violating the law, especially when it comes to its business dealings, is too long to recount and the monastery’s financial scandal is no doubt the tip of the iceberg. It’s also worth mentioning the monastery construction that recently sprang up in Cape Greco that the church was told specifically not to build on a Natura site.

And it’s not only a case of ‘a few bad apples’. The leadership of the church protects its own for as long as they can get away with it as witnessed during the trial of the former Kiti bishop for sexual assault last year.

Despite the church scandals that have been in the public eye for decades now, according to a quick poll following the news about the Avakoum monastery, 50 per cent of those surveyed said it had not affected their view of the church.

It is only when the faithful come to their senses that the church might start scrambling to clean up its ranks as it begins to lose followers and ultimately revenue.

People the world over are rejecting Christianity due to the actions of those within its various denominations, the Catholic Church being a prime example.  The Church of Cyprus will not be immune to this decline but it’s likely to take another generation if not two.

Cypriots have become inured to corruption whether it be in the political sphere or in the church. It’s part of life. This is Cyprus. It is within these parameters the church operates and is itself part of the problem. What example does it set when it comes to honesty, truth, morals and ethics when it does not respect the laws of the state and does whatever it wants?  Is it any wonder that many individuals do the same?

The authorities have a chance to teach the church a lesson if they come down hard enough, as they should, on the most recent scandals involving the monastery’s financial dealings, its illegal construction, and the new one at Cape Greco. The question is, will they have the guts?

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