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16 June, 2024
 
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Blurred lines between the church, state, and scandal in Cyprus

Unraveling the web of church corruption and political intrigue

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Last week, amid the shadow of scandals in the Church, ELAM President Christos Christou ensured to provide full coverage to Metropolitan Isaias, publicly admitting that he was present in the Diocese of Tamassos on the afternoon of March 5th. However, March 5th was not an ordinary day for either the Church or the Metropolis itself. According to the monks' complaint, 30 hooded individuals, accompanied by clergymen from the Metropolis of Tamassos, raided the monastery of St. Avvakoum, allegedly abducted them, and transported them to the Metropolis. There, as they claimed, in front of Metropolitan Isaias and through threats, they coerced them into signing false confessions of financial and sexual scandals.

What exactly was unfolding all this time at the Abbey of Avvakoum, and whether the monks were defrauding the faithful by extorting money from them, was the responsibility of the police to investigate and the duty of the Legal Department to appoint criminal investigators to unravel the case. However, Metropolitan Isaiah arbitrarily assumed the role of the investigative and prosecutorial authorities. On his side were individuals representing institutions, willingly providing cover and legitimizing his actions. For example, former Police Chief Kypros Michaelides asked what was wrong with being in the Metropolis, while the president of the Bar Association explained that he was a lawyer for the Metropolis.

The hooded men guarding the Metropolis and, by extension, safeguarding the money, were captured on cameras. The movement of the monks along with hundreds of thousands in cash in a safe was confirmed by those present. Additionally, a closed-circuit surveillance system recording the monks' activities for months, which largely served as a blackmailing tool, happened to leak to the media.

A shadow state appears to have been easily established in the Diocese of Tamassos. A shadow state that not only places Metropolitan Isaiah at the center but also ELAM leader Christos Christou.

The president of ELAM, who had been trying for some time to convince that he fights against the establishment, that the far-right aims to defend the poor and the weak, rushed to support the ultimate representative of the establishment, Metropolitan Isaiah.

Cyprus is small, and the rumors of relations between Isaiah and Russia are very strong. Cyprus is small, and obviously, the wealth of the Metropolis did not go unnoticed. Wealth that raises questions about the actions of the Metropolitan of Tamassos.

From the entire Church, Christos Christou chose to not only support but also protect Isaiah, whose Metropolis is involved in a financial fraud scandal, along with hooded individuals. However, at the same time, questions arise about the wisdom of the Metropolitan of Tamassos having Christos Christou by his side. While claiming to proclaim the word of God, he chose to legitimize what was done by appointing Nikos Michaloliakos' guard and shield. Thus legitimizing a party that has been spreading hatred, racism, and discrimination for years. Isaiah's need to justify Christ's presence in the Metropolis, to legitimize what happened, was so great that he appointed him a member of the Throne Committee. Did the Metropolitan of Tamassos not see all this time the setup of an operation by the monks in Fterikoudi? Shouldn't Christos Christou, otherwise a member of the Throne Committee and president of ELAM, have known about the mismanagement of the Metropolis' finances all this time?

So, the question that arises is whether we ultimately have a rule of law or not. What unfolds with the Monastery of Saint Avvakoum and what involves the Metropolitan of Tamassos should have already been clarified by the Police, who not only awkwardly observed the scandals leaking but were found to participate through two policemen in all this gathering. However, along with clarifying this financial fraud scheme that was set up, it would be good for the Authorities to investigate the relationship between ELAM and the Metropolitan of Tamassos. Is it a mutual service of interests, a mutual cover-up, and if so, with what exchanges? The demonstrated zeal of both parties in this case, combined with the sack of money that the party had to distribute food, to do philanthropy, and even to embark on an expensive campaign of spreading fake news about immigration, might be the beginning of the thread.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and may have been edited for brevity and clarity] 

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