Archbishop Georgios has officially assumed his duties following Sunday’s enthronement ceremony at Nicosia’s Cathedral of Apostle Barnabas.
The Paphos Bishop is now the leader of the Cyprus Orthodox Church following the death of his predecessor Archbishop Chrysostomos II in November.
He said in his enthronement speech: “For Cyprus and its Archbishop, the cross remains a cross of martyrdom, the chlamydia becomes a cloth with which it covers the wounds of the people, the crown of thorns becomes a visible sign of the burdensome slavery of our homeland”.
He is particularly concerned about the issues of education as an essential element of life and survival of a people.
“We are not asking, nor are we attempting to blackmail the country’s government on education, nor on other issues.
“We do not deny ourselves the right to have an opinion on the most important issues of the country and to express it freely, as such a right is enjoyed today by all citizens.”
On the Cyprus issue, he said Ankara does not hide its aspirations for the “conquest and Turkification” of the whole of Cyprus, “the Church cannot remain in the stands as a mere spectator”.
“The government of the Republic can also count on our support in seeking to restore the rights of our people and liberate our occupied territories.”
He added that the Church would actively contribute to the defence of Cyprus, while he called for the activation of the defence pact between Greece and Cyprus, which would “satisfy the sense of security of the people, prevent new expansionist moves by Turkey”.
Messages on behalf of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis were read out.
In his message, the Pope referred to Archbishop Chrysostomos, who “remained steadfast in his commitment to improving relations between churches.”
“I know that your beatitude will continue in this commitment to fostering the unity of all Christ’s disciples”.
President Nicos Anastasiades, House Speaker Annita Demetriou, the Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All of Greece attended the enthronement ceremony.
Georgios was elected Archbishop last month following the death of his predecessor Archbishop Chrysostomos II after a long battle with cancer.
The new Archbishop studied chemistry and theology in Greece and later in the UK before rising through the ranks within the Church to be elected Paphos bishop in 2006.
The Church of Cyprus is one of the oldest autocephalous churches.
In 478 AD, the Archbishop of Cyprus Anthemios, following a vision, found the tomb and the remains of the Apostle Barnabas, on whose chest was a copy of the Gospel according to Matthew.
Archbishop Anthemios offered this Gospel to the Byzantine Emperor Zeno, who granted the well-known three imperial privileges to each Archbishop of Cyprus: To sign with cinnabar (red ink), to wear a purple mantle during the rites and to hold instead of the episcopal crosier, an imperial sceptre.