Church condemns monk’s theft of woman’s remains
Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos this week condemned as sacrilege, the theft of a woman's remains in Greece by three Cypriots, including a monk, who claimed they did it because she was a saint.
The prelate said he suspected this was an act of quackery with financial motives.
The trio were arrested at the Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens while preparing to board a flight to Cyprus on Sunday evening after police officers found the remains in their luggage. Chrysostomos condemned the act, describing it as sacrilege.
"In my opinion this cleric should be punished; the situation is unacceptable, it is sacrilege," the Church leader said.
"They are probably acts of quackery by some aiming to make financial gains. That is my suspicion."
The 42-year-old monk, who lives at the Kykko Monastery has been suspended for three months.
Greek prosecutors have charged him, another man, 54, and a 60-year-old woman - both from Larnaca - with theft and desecrating the remains of a deceased person.
The three suspects denied the charges and were released to appear in court later this month.
Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said the three returned to Cyprus late on Monday.
The trio stole the remains of Eleni Vathiadou after a memorial service held by the woman's family at a Nikea cemetery on Sunday to mark four years since her death.
She had once been a nun at a Cypriot monastery but had lately been living in Greece.
Vathiadou was never officially declared a saint by the Cypriot or Greek Orthodox Churches.
"Our compatriots claimed that they dug up the remains because they considered the deceased a saint," Katsounotos said.
He added that before her death, Vathiadou, from Livadhia in the Larnaca district, had had frequent contacts with the suspects during visits to the island.
The police spokesman said Kykko Bishop Nikiforos confirmed that the monk belonged to the monastery and he "authorised me to announce that he has suspended him for three months because he left the monastery without permission."
Katsounotos said the force has asked their counterparts in Greece for an official briefing in order to inform the Kykko Bishopric "so that it carries out the necessary actions".
Source: Cyprus Mail, ANA, Reuters
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