The Law on Religious Groups states that each religious group is represented in the House of Representatives by an elected Representative. The participation of the Representatives, who act as a liaison between their respective group and the state, has a consultative nature. They enjoy the same privileges as other MPs, they participate in the Parliamentary Committee on Education and they attend the plenary meetings of the House. Although they can express their views on matters relating to their respective religious group, they do not vote. The voting representatives of the religious groups are those elected by the entire Greek Cypriot community, where these groups belong.

 

Latins


The first Latin Archbishopric in Cyprus was established in Nicosia in 1196 during the Frankish rule on the island. However, the present Latin community of the island, as regards both its clerical and secular members, came into being during the early Ottoman period and it began to increase notably in numbers during the late Ottoman and early British periods. It had a nationally heterogeneous composition, with its members originating from Venice, other areas of Italy, Malta, France and even Dalmatia. Most of the Latins on the island not belonging to the clergy were engaged in commercial pursuits, but nonetheless also developed notable initiatives in other fields such as agriculture and education, and thereby made a significant contribution to the life of the island. The religious leader of the group is a Patriarchal Vicar General accountable to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and ex officio representative of the Holy See pro-Nuncio in Jerusalem.
Internal aspect of the church of the religious community of LatinsInternal aspect of the church of the religious community of Latins

The Latins of Cyprus form a compact but steadily increasing community differing markedly from the Armenians and the Maronites insofar as they are not nationally homogeneous. Today, it is estimated that traditional Latins number about 1.000 persons, while the last 25-30 years have seen the arrival of thousands of Roman Catholics from countries of the former Soviet bloc, western Europe, south – east Asia and Latin America.

 

Armenians


The presence of Armenians on the island dates back as early as the sixth century, while the number of Armenians in Cyprus significantly increased following the massive forced deportations from Ottoman Turkey and the massacres and genocide they suffered by the Ottoman Turks during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to the Constitution (Article 2 § 3), the Armenian-Cypriots are recognised as a religious group, while the Western Armenian language is recognised and protected by the Cyprus government as a "minority language," according to the provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The religious leader of the group, the Archbishop, is accountable to the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias. Currently, Armenian-Cypriots, who number about 3.500 people, live mostly in the urban areas of Nicosia, Larnaka and Limassol.

The Armenian school 'Narek' in NicosiaThe Armenian school 'Narek' in Nicosia

Through their churches, schools, clubs, radio programme, monthly newspapers and websites they try to preserve their very rich cultural heritage, language and religion. As a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion, the Armenians lost significant properties, such as the Sourp Magar Armenian Monastery in the Halefka area and the Ganchvor Sourp Asdvadzadzin Monastery in Famagusta, a primary school and church in Nicosia, and several other vital sites and assets.

Today, there are three Armenian churches and primary schools in Cyprus, one of each in each town. In addition, the Armenians have a secondary school in Nicosia, the world renowned Melkonian Educational Institute, which was established in 1926 by the Melkonian brothers and was the only remaining boarding school servicing students of the Armenian Diaspora from nearly forty countries. It is currently not in operation.

 

Maronites


The Maronites derive their name from Saint Maron (350-410 AD) who lived in the region of Apameus in "Syria Secunda", an administrative division of the Byzantine Empire. The history of the Maronites in Cyprus goes back many centuries. Maronites moved to Cyprus from the ancient territories of Syria, the Holy Land and Lebanon in four principal migrations between the eighth and the thirteenth centuries. The Maronites who now live in Cyprus consider themselves of Lebanese origin and they are Christian Catholics. They have a Maronite Archbishop who is elected by the Holy Synod of the Maronite Church in Lebanon and confirmed by His Holiness the Pope.

Although the Maronites are educated in Greek schools and speak fluent Greek, they have their own language, they practice their own Catholic Maronite religion, they use the Aramaic language in their liturgy and they have their own culture and customs. The Cypriot Maronite Arabic Language is recognised and protected by the Cyprus government as a "minority language," according to the provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In 1960, the Maronites living in Cyprus were approximately 2.750, living mainly in the four villages of Kormakitis, Asomatos, Karpashia and Ayia Marina. As a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974, most Maronites were displaced and became refugees, whereas a small number remained enclaved in the three Maronite villages of Kormakitis, Asomatos and Karpashia. Today, there are about one hundred enclaved Maronites, while it is estimated that Maronites number about 6.000 persons living all over the island.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic Church TimiouStafrou (5 June 2010)His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic Church TimiouStafrou (5 June 2010)
 
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