Cyprus in mourning before Archbishop’s funeral

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Archbishop Chrysostomos II’s funeral will be held on Saturday, following a six-day mourning period, as the Church leader will lay in state and the search for his successor begins.

The head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church died on Monday, aged 81, after a four-year fight against cancer.

His funeral is to be held at the cathedral of Apostle Barnabas, recently constructed in Nicosia, next to the Archbishopric.

Following the service, he will be buried in a crypt located under the cathedral, built as a burial site for Chrysostomos and future archbishops.

Flags outside churches will be flying half-mast and on all public buildings.

During the funeral, all churches across Cyprus will ring bells and hold a service in his memory on Sunday.

A book of condolences is open at the Archbishop’s office from 10 am on Tuesday until noon on Friday.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople announced he would travel to Cyprus for the funeral.

He will lead the procession along with the members of the Holy Synod.

Bartholomew’s visit to Cyprus will mark the first time an Ecumenical Patriarch has done so.

The Cabinet has declared a six-day public mourning from November 7 to November 12.

During this period, the Republic of Cyprus flag will fly at half-mast in all schools and public buildings.

Acting President, and House Speaker Annita Demetriou, decided to postpone all official events during the public mourning.

President Nicos Anastasiades will deliver the eulogy during the Archbishop’s funeral, to be attended by government ministers and other dignitaries.

They have also started signing the book of condolences for the Archbishop.

Succession

Paphos Bishop Giorgios, under Church rules, is the caretaker leader until a new election takes place within 40 days after the throne is declared vacant.

The Holy Synod changed procedures on the election of a new archbishop in 2010, with the Orthodox faithful called to cast a vote for the cleric they feel is fit to become Archbishop.

All people of the Orthodox faith aged 18 and above, residing in Cyprus for the past year at least, are eligible to vote.

Under the amendment to the Church charter, people vote in their registered parish.

Unlike general elections, there will be no formal ballots, but parishioners will be given a piece of paper to write the name of their preferred clergyman.

Once the ballots are counted, the top three become official candidates for the throne.

Then the Holy Synod will convene to choose one of the three clergy members proposed by the faithful.

The Church’s top decision-making body comprises 17 senior clerics; after the Archbishop died, there are 16 voters.

In the first round of voting, if one of the candidates acquires 50% plus one vote, he is declared Archbishop. That means the new Archbishop needs the backing of nine clergy members.

If the first round fails to produce a victor, it goes to a run-off between two candidates who got the most votes.

In the case of a tie, a simple lottery is held to determine the next head of the Cyprus Church.