Human Rights Seminar: Religious Freedom and Holy Sites in the Republic of Cyprus

14 April 2010
Contributions to the seminar organised in the European Parliament by the Church and Society Commission of CEC and the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the EU.

Contribution from Rev. Rüdiger Noll, Director of the Church and Society Commission of CEC and the Associate General Secretary of CEC.
“… No wonder, therefore, that the Conference of European Churches at almost all of its Assemblies and at almost each meeting of its governing bodies addressed the issue of the divided Cyprus. And from their own involvement in the history of a divided Europe, the churches knew very well that where there is a political division, justice suffers, the implementation of human rights suffers, people suffer, peace is in danger.”

Contribution from the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II
“… We ask the European Union to support our demand strongly and powerfully and to work systematically and effectively in order to restore and ensure respect for religious freedoms in the occupied part of our island; to put an end to the looting and plundering of our sacred sites and monuments and to protect our religious sites. In order for this to be achieved, we repeat, it is necessary that the occupying troops and settlers withdraw from Cyprus.”

Contribution from H.E. Youssef Soueif, Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
“… When dealing with such situations in countreis like ours, and in front of so many political and social complications, it is very correct and wise to provide open access to all the religious places that remain signs of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is both a humane and a religious gesture.”

Contribution from Dr. Antranik Ashdjian, Chairman of the Executive Council of the Armenian National Administration of Cyprus
“… Under UN protection, our community has twice so far been allowed to hold pilgrimages to the Monastery of Sourp Magar, on the First Sunday of May 2007 and 2009. The date was symbolic, as it coincided with the traditional feast of the Monastery, but the pilgrimage and subsequent assembly in the desecrated church of the Monastery fell short of the religious ceremonies that were performed during that day prior to the Turkish invasion of 1974.”

Contribution from His Grace Bishop Porfyrios, Director of the Office of the Church of Cyprus to the European Institutions
“… The contents of religious monuments have been stolen and a large number of these have been exported for sale to collectors and auction houses. More than 15,000 icons, iconostases, holy implements, gospels, mosaics and murals dating from the 6th to the 20th century have been removed and have disappeared. Only a very few items have been discovered and repatriated.”

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