MPs have heard how some clergymen are allegedly ignoring the wishes of bereaved families with regards to which charities should receive donations given at the funerals of loved ones.
In many cases, the House Committee on Human Rights and on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women heard how the church was even pocketing the money according to the same allegations.
Speaking before the committee, Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council (PVCC) Vice President Elias Demetriou revealed that church councils, depending on the Bishopric they belong to, follow specific procedures irrespective of a family’s wish.
In some Bishoprics, councils ignore the wishes of the bereaved and give the donations to organisations of their choice, while in some cases; church councils do not even permit non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from entering the church yard during the funeral service.
“We have received dozens of complaints. It is an issue which must be solved because NGOs and charities shouldn’t be the centre of rows between church committees and the relatives of the deceased,” said Demetriou.
“One Bishopric has made funerals a business,” said Demetriou explaining that the bishop in question has decided to keep 40% of the donations while giving the remaining 60% to the bereaved or the organisation of their choice.”
“In another Bishopric, the NGO was not allowed onto the church premises during the funeral service and the relatives of the deceased were informed that the church council would hand over a sum of 20%-30% of the donations to the charities,” said Demetriou.
“Another Bishopric has prohibited any NGO or charities and keeps the money for itself,” added Demetriou.
However there does seem to be one Bishopric that has kept its humanity by allowing the relatives of the deceased to arrange collections for charities and NGOs of their choice without claiming any of the money.
“One Bishopric has indeed sent a circular to all the churches within its jurisdiction which informs them not to interfere with the wishes of the bereaved with regards to NGOs and charities and not to take any of the money collected,” said Demetriou.
Committee members were of the opinion that amendments to the relevant bill were necessary while they would proceed to ask for legal counsel over the issue from the Legal Services.
“The aim and decision of the Committee is to regulate the issue in such a way that the family of the deceased have the right to decide where the donations should go,” said Committee President Stella Kyriakidou.