Orthodox Church at odds over 'gay' bishop

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Orthodox Church at odds over 'gay' bishop
11/15/00 at 14:34:58
Leaving the gay side of this story aside, notice how religion has turned into mere politics for them. Sad.

Orthodox Church at odds over 'gay' bishop

By Paul Wood in Athens

15 November 2000

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church met yesterday in Cyprus for only the second time in two millenniums, to discuss allegations that one of the island's bishops is secretly gay, a claim that has split the church on the island.

Greek Orthodox bishops and patriarchs gathered in emergency session in Nicosia to rule on one allegation, that Bishop Athanassios of Limassol seduced a novice monk 20 years ago. If found guilty he would have to resign.

The allegations are strongly denied by Bishop Athanassios, whose supporters say he is the victim of a plot to stop him becoming archbishop. They claim senior clerics conspired against him by trying to bribe witnesses to tell lies.

Bishop Athanassios, a former monk of the all-male commune of Mount Athos, in Greece, is said to be viewed as a threat by the more established bishops in Cyprus. The church is one of the island's most affluent institutions, owning hotels and other property and having a range of commercial interests. Christos Clerides, the bishop's lawyer, said: "This pits the old guard associated more with business against bishops like Athanassios, who is bringing the church closer to the people."

Black-robed and bearded, the clerics arrived in Nicosia, from Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Damascus. They were given an armed police escort to the archbishopric for the second meeting of a Major Holy Synod on the island in 2,000 years, the third anywhere this century.

The Greek Orthodox Church does not approve of homosexuality, which was legalised in Cyprus three years ago. But it has become the butt of jokes on Cyprus after a series of scandals. Bishop Athanassios'spredecessor resigned amid allegations that he tried to con more than 2m out of a British businessman in a bank fraud.


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