Cyprus religious leaders issue statement on historic Church of St James

Posted on Feb 21, 2019

World Council of Churches, 15 February 2019 – On 14 February, the religious leaders of Cyprus issued a joint statement on the historic Church of St James in the Buffer Zone. Torrential rains over the past weeks caused the collapse of the bell tower and part of the wall of the 10th century church.

Religious leaders and others had been calling for reinforcement of the structure. As restoration begins, religious leaders urged that the rightful owners of all religious monuments in Cyprus be directly involved and consulted.

“With faith in God, we renew our joint plea since 2014 for the urgent need to appropriately reinforce and restore not only the historic monument of St James but also St George, both found in the green line of the Buffer Zone,”the statement reads. “The significance of a place of worship reaches far beyond the stones it is built of and its destruction disrespects our shared religious and cultural heritage.”

The leaders represent the five main religious communities of Cyprus. “In front of this tragedy, we ask once again for the full cooperation of all those involved and pray that the efforts of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, that has agreed to take over the responsibility of these two Byzantine monuments since March 2017, are renewed with urgency with the support of all stakeholders including the rightful owner,”the statement continues. “Expressing our hope for a constructive and proactive way forward in protecting the historic monuments in the Buffer Zone, we pray to be spared from witnessing another place of worship in Cyprus fall to ruins.”

WCC member churches in Cyprus

The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process