A scandal has erupted at the Monastery of Saint Avvakoum (Habbakuk) in Fterikoudi village, Cyprus, involving allegations of misconduct and financial exploitation by two monks.

The incident has rocked the Church of Cyprus, leading to police and internal investigations as well as calls for defrocking.

The protagonists of the scandal are two monks from the Monastery of Saint Avvakoum, who are accused of engaging in sexual activities within the monastery premises. Despite their denial of the accusations, evidence, including video recordings from security cameras installed by the monks themselves, suggests otherwise.

The Bishop of Tamassos and Oreinis, under whose jurisdiction the monastery falls, has taken decisive action by closing the monastery and referring the matter to the Holy Synod.

The Holy Synod is expected to defrock the two monks, who reportedly requested defrocking themselves to avoid further scandal and restore trust within the community.

Apart from the sexual misconduct allegations, the scandal also involves financial exploitation.

The monastery was reportedly attracting thousands of believers with claims of miraculous occurrences, such as images shedding tears and dripping myrrh by using a mechanism that secretly dispensed myrrh onto the images. These “miracles” were often showcased in videos on YouTube, and the monks were active on social media and in the mainstream media. Visitors to the monastery were encouraged to leave offerings, and substantial amounts of money, as well as valuable items, were found in the monks’ cells, totaling around €1,000,000 (AU$1,653,380).

The monks were also found to have bank accounts with large deposits and had invested in real estate in Piraeus and Cyprus, using the apartments for their personal use.