After the 1917 revolution in Russia, communism spread to most of the countries of Eastern Europe. By 1953, at the time of Stalin’s death, the division between Eastern and Western Europe seemed absolute. However, the advent of perestroika at the end of the 1980s brought about political changes that have enabled the Orthodox Church to develop once again in Eastern Europe.
The foundation of the European Union in 1993 has had a broader significance for Orthodox communities, who can now participate in the future development of Europe. Some Orthodox Churches already have their representatives at the European Union in Brussels. These include the patriarchates of Constantinople, Russia and Romania, along with the Church of Greece and the Church of Cyprus.
Today, Europe is becoming increasingly religiously diverse, even within Christianity itself. A growing number of Orthodox Christians have come to work and settle in Western Europe. An understanding of the history of the Orthodox communities in Eastern Europe in the twentieth century will contribute, in a spirit of informed dialogue, to the shaping of a new united Europe that is still in the process of expansion.
This book is translated from the French version (published 2009).
Andreas N. Mitsides - 3 The Church of Cyprus during the Twentieth Century 69
Andreas N. Mitsides 3 The Church of Cyprus during the Twentieth Century The period from 1900 to 1960 On 12 July 1878 Cyprus was liberated from Ottoman domination and passed under British rule. The transfer of the administration of Cyprus to a Christian power was very well received in the island, bringing great joy both to the church and to Cypriot lay circles. Everyone expected that the English would soon grant the people of Cyprus their freedom, so as to enable them thus to fulfill their long-held desire, the unification of Cyprus with their mother, mainland Greece. However, all such hope was in vain, because the state of af fairs at that time did not favour such an outcome. The new masters of the island not only failed to respond to the expec- tations of the Cypriot people, but as time passed imposed increasingly heavy taxes constantly and restricted personal liberty. From the first days of occupation of the island, they began to interfere even in internal af fairs of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The fact that the church was successful in preventing this situation from becoming fully established, was mainly due to the position adopted by Archbishop Sophronius III, who governed the Church of the Apostle Varnavas (Barnabas) with great wisdom for a full thirty-five years (thirteen under Turkish rule and twenty-two under British, i.e. from 1865 to 1900). Sophronius III led a delegation to London in 1889 to request the British government to take appropriate action for...
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