United and closer than ever before
Maronite and Orthodox Chris tians with th e p opulation: the view of A rchbisho p S oueif
The shockin g news f or Cypriots arrived only a few days ago, when the Eurogroup
announced its intention to tax bank deposits on the island to hand le the economic-
f inancial emergenc y in Cypru s. Th e P arliament in Nicosia immediately voiced its
oppositio n a nd yes te rda y morn in g the second in ch ief of the democra tic group at the
government Averof Ne ophyto u said tha t Cyp riot p arty leade rs unanimous ly decided to
create a “solida rity f und ”, s ta ting pled ge Sta te goods f or an eme rgency loan . The
announcemen t was mad e b y th e o ff ice of pres ident Nikos A nastas ia des, on the wake
of tensions trigge red after ECB sa id it wou ld grant “eme rge ncy liquidity assistance”
(ELA), re ques te d b y Cyprus’ Centra l Bank, “until Monda y, March 25 ”. D eta ils on the
so lidarity f und are yet unkn own with the risk o f emergency withd rawals f rom Cypriot
bank deposits , poten tially facing a 9.9% levy f or dep ositors with ov er €100 ,00 0. The
climate in Cyprus remains tense and the island’s citizens are wo rrie d, the archbish op
of the Maronite Church, Youss ef Soueif
told Nike Giu rlani fo r SIR Europe.
In this time of gra ve financia l diffic ulties in Cyprus wha t are the fe elings that
pervade the Maronite community in Cyprus a nd the population as a whole?
“The Cypriot po pulatio n fee ls deep bitterness, no t only f or the delicate eco nomic
situation but also f or the decisions that have been taken a few d ays ago, linked to the
ec onomic emergency. Indeed, th e nature of th e E uro pean Fund is solid arity, b ut it
sh ould equa lly be bo rne in min d tha t certain d ecisions h ave an impac t on globa l
ec onomy, and on ind iv idu als in pa rticular. The Cyp riot population cannot pay such a
high pric e fo r th is crisis. Mos t imp ortan t, ma ny fa milies hav e modes t amounts o f
savings an d withdra wals f rom their deposits would seriously imp act the ir liv ing
co nditions on a daily basis. Eu rope’s modes o f in te rve ntion should be promptly
What c an the Church do in this situation?
“Giv en this crisis it’s important for the co mmunity to stay united. The Orthodox Church ,
the la rgest in th e island, sa id it wou ld off er its assets to the Cypriot g ove rnme nt to
help pu ll it o ut of the f in anc ia l cris is . This is a s ignifican t prophe tic, evange lical and
human gesture. As a Ca tholic Maronite Ch urch rep resenting a min ority commun ity on
the is land, we f ollo w this same direction and thro ugh ou r ecc lesial ne two rks , especially
thro ugh Caritas , we se ek to prov ide g rea te r visibility to solidarity in our sufferin g
society. Tod ay more than ever it’s important to sho w s olida rity towa rds o the rs . Hard
times lie ahead, bu t Cyprus has already faced serious d if f iculties before. Proba bly the
ongoing cris is is th e most serious of the pas t decades, bu t in the sp iri t of so lidarity, at
intern al and Euro pean lev el, with a clear and tran sparent manag ement of the cris is , we
will be able to overcome this diff ic ult economic situation ”.
What do y ou imagine in the future ?
“This crisis is an occ asion f or ev eryone - a t in dividual and societa l level - to p romo te a
tran sf orma tion, to reth ink and to rec onside r priorities. We must distance ourselves
f rom consume rist c rite ria and emb rac e a n ew v ision of life, base d on essentia ls .
Ov e rcoming the c risis will n ecessarily bring about a ra dical change in ou r lifestyles .
We must a im at a simple life, more huma n and dee per, bas ed on the values of
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