Georgios of Pafos is the new Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - On Christmas Eve, the synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus elected its new archbishop: Metropolitan Georgios of Pafos, who succeeds Chrysostomos II, who died Nov. 7.
Founded by the apostle Barnabas, the Cypriot church is the oldest autocephalous church in the Christian world, as sanctioned by the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.
According to the very ancient tradition, which is still valid today, all Christians in Cyprus entitled to vote are invited to elect from among the candidates a trio of bishops; this is then submitted to the synod, which proceeds to choose the new archbishop.
For the election of the trio, 30 percent of Cypriots eligible to vote participated on December 18. Six candidates ran in these primaries, in a campaign enlivened by various debates and polls. In the end, the vote awarded Lemessos Metropolitan Athanasios (35.68%), Pafos Metropolitan Georgios (18.39%), and Isaias, Metropolitan of Tamasou (18.10%).
Athanasios and Isaias, from the so-called pro-Russian party, were the most active in the primaries: they extolled a traditionalist mentality, devoted to the constant search for fanatical supporters. Especially Athanasios, according to whom the winner of the primaries was to be proclaimed the winner immediately, regardless of the status of the Cypriot Church.
As noted by several observers, the real winner was the abstention of Cypriots, which reached 70 percent: voters are opposed to religious fundamentalism and bigotry, phenomena alien to true Orthodox ecclesiology.
Following the will of the Cypriots, the synod composed of 16 metropolitans (according to statute) elected Georgios on the first ballot: 11 votes in his favor, four to the other candidates and one blank ballot.
The newly elected archbishop expresses the will to adapt the Church of Cyprus to the challenges of the world, in full continuity with his predecessor Chrysostomos II. Georgios III was born in 1949. He became a priest in 1984, at the age of 35, after completing his studies in chemical engineering and theology with doctorates.
Over the years he has been active in pastoral work and is a fervent supporter of dialogue with the Catholic and ecumenical churches in Constantinople. One of the most active members of the Pan-Orthodox synod in Crete, he is opposed to the senseless ambitions of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Politically, Georgios is in favor of a fair settlement of the Cyprus issue (between Greek Cypriots and the population of Turkish origin), while respecting international canons and the island's membership in the European Union.