Paphos Bishop favourite for Church leader

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Paphos Bishop Georgios is considered the favourite to become the next Archbishop of Cyprus, despite Bishop Athanasios of Limassol securing the lead in Sunday’s popular vote.

Cypriot churchgoers gave Limassol Bishop Athanasios a clear win with 35.68%, followed by Paphos Bishop Georgios with 18.39%, and Tamassos Bishop Isaias with 18.10%.

The three bishops form the triumvirate for the next Archbishop, to be elected by the Holy Synod before the end of the month.

Another three bishops were left out of the race.

Famagusta Bishop Vasilios, who was fourth, obtained 14.79% of the vote, followed by Neophytos of Morphou with 9.80% and Kyrenia Bishop Chrysostomos with 3.24%.

Sunday’s turnout was 30.2%, or 165,750 out of 548,793 eligible voters.

Only Cypriots registered with the state’s electoral catalogues had the right to vote.

A previous Holy Synod decision had excluded Russian Orthodox Christians living in Cyprus from the elections due to the lack of time to facilitate non-Cypriots.

The ball is now in the Holy Synod’s court, where a favourable climate for the Paphos Bishop is being formed.

Following the election, a three-day objection period will follow, and the Holy Synod will have a five-days to go through those objections.

After that, within three days, the synod meets to select the next Archbishop – meaning a final decision by the end of December.

“The peoples’ verdict needs to be respected,” said Bishop Athanasios of Limassol in his statements while thanking God and the people for the result.

Bishop Georgios of Paphos said, “there is no first or second” as the Holy Synod chooses the next Archbishop.

Young people

Bishop Isaias said it was the most peaceful election ever held in the Church of Cyprus, adding that the inclusion of a new bishop in the triumvirate shows the voice of young people was heard.

Paphos appears to have the backing of seven out of 16 members of the Holy Synod, which could increase to a possible nine after Constantias and Famagusta Bishop Vasilios and Morphou Neophytos were left out.

According to reports, Vasilios and Georgios had an understanding before the elections to support one another in case one was left out.

The seven votes that Paphos Georgios can count on are those of Kiti Nectarios, Trimithountos Varnavas, Karpasia’s Christophoros, Arsinoe’s Pakratiou, Chitron Leontios and Mesaoria Gregorios.

Athanasios is expected to garner four votes with those of Ledras Epiphanios, Neapolis Porfyrios, and Amathounta Nicolaos.

Tamassos Isaias is counting on the votes of Kykkos Bishop Nikiforos and Kyrenia Chrysostomos.

However, the last bishop’s vote cannot be taken for granted as Chrysostomos is also close to the Limassol Bishop.

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.

As things stand, Georgios has a good chance of being elected from the first round, as he needs just two more votes.

The Holy Synod convenes on Thursday to set a date for the first round, which is expected to be after Christmas Day.