On 21st July 2021, His Grace Porfyrios of Neapolis participated in the “8th Summer School on Human Rights, 20-23 July”, which is co-organized by CEC (Conference of European Churches) and EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) and focuses on “Ensuring Security of Worship Places & Religious Communities”.
His Grace represented the Church of Cyprus at the 3rd Webinar (“Voice of Churches”), on the “Challenges for CEC churches in the protection of the worship places (II)”, and gave an informed report about the “Case of Cyprus” and the challenges that the Church is facing, regarding the 47-year-long military occupation of the northern areas of the island by Turkey.
His Grace made an introduction on the history of religious tolerance in Cyprus, up until the Turkish invasion, which brought about an unprecedented ongoing desecration, destruction and looting of more than 520 churches, 17 monasteries, as well as cemeteries, belonging primarily to Orthodox Christians, but also to Armenians, Maronites and Latins. He went on to describe the main actions of the Church of Cyprus before the involved international organizations, such as the United Nations (including UNESCO), the European Union, and other European Institutions.
He explained how the Church of Cyprus, in cooperation with these institutions, struggles to protect her worship places and other religious sites from the aggressive policy of cultural and religious cleansing deployed by Turkey and the occupying regime. It is a very challenging situation, he said, even more so because some member-states of these organizations are unwilling to exert pressure on Turkey to abide by international law and human rights.
The Webinar continued with presentations on the “Case of Armenia” by Dr. Christina Maranci for the Armenian Apostolic Church, the “Case of the UK” by the Rt. Reverend Nicholas Baines for the Church of England, and the “Case of the Vatican” by Dr. Mattia Ferrero, National Point of Contact on Hate Crimes of the Holy See. Each case concluded with an interesting discussion and exchange of views moderated by Dr. Vasiliki Stathokosta (Church of Greece).