‘The Church will not let anyone starve’

Stefanos Evripidou – 13/12/12

THE Archbishopric in Nicosia was briefly evacuated yesterday as three fire engines were used to put out a fire in the historic building’s basement.

Fire Service spokeswoman Liza Kemidji said yesterday that the fire broke out at 9.55am in the basement where the Church keeps its archives and old computers, leading to the evacuation of the entire building. The fire was brought under control by 10.15am after three fire engine units were dispatched to the scene.

The Fire Service and Department of Electrical and Mechanical Services of the Communications Ministry are examining the cause of the fire, though Kemidji ruled out foul play.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said a short circuit was the likely cause of the fire, noting that the electronic installations of the Archbishopric date back to the 1960s.

“A lot of files were burnt containing receipts of the last decade, not recent ones,” he said.

The fire caused a blackout at the building which houses the offices and residence of the Archbishop.

Speaking to reporters after the fire was brought under control, Chrysostomos called on the Cypriot public to work towards getting the country out of the crisis.

He sent a message to public servants to bite the bullet of austerity, noting that a wage reduction was not the end of the world.

“Everyone must understand that they will face difficulties in the next two, three years, but I don’t believe any public servant will starve if a part of their wages is cut,” he said.

“We need to get a grip on reality and not have our heads in the clouds if this country is to move forward. We need vision, not short-sightedness,” he added.

The Primate highlighted that the church will not let anyone starve, and has ordered its clerics to identify those who are in need of help.

Regarding the government bill prepared to increase immoveable property tax (IPT), Chrysostomos said the church would also be paying the IPT as part of the government’s austerity measures.

“Some bills have been made in haste, but there is time to correct them,” said the head of the church.