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Cypriot Voters Pick 3 Finalist Bishops in New Archbishop Race

NICOSIA – Voters on Cyprus have narrowed to three finalists the field of six Bishops hoping to be the new Archbishop in the wake of the death of Chrysostomos II, who died on Nov. 7  after a long battle with cancer.

The results of a Dec. 19 primary followed opinion polls and saw 35.68 percent voting for Limassol Bishop Athanasios, followed by Paphos Bishop Georgios with 18.39 and Tamasou Bishop Isaias with 18.1 percent, said In-Cyprus.

Following the election, a three-day objection period will follow, and the Holy Synod will have a five-day period 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.

There was little interest among the public who it is, however, with turnout at only 30.2 percent, more than two-thirds of Cypriots not interested in the outcome enough to vote.

A woman casts her vote during the church elections for the new Archbishop at Saint Barnabas Cathedral in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. The Archbishop in Cyprus is elected by lay voters in combination with a college of senior clerics, a tradition that goes back centuries. The college of clerics selects the new Archbishop from the top three candidates who garnered the most lay votes. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

This means that 165,750 people out of the 548,793 who were able to cast a vote, according to Archbishopric Elections Commissioner Ioannis Charilaou the vote said of the apathy among the electorate.

A Holy Synod decision barred Russian Orthodox Christians living in Cyprus from the elections which overturned initial plans to allow anyone Christian Orthodox and a citizen of Cyprus for at least a year to vote for a new Archbishop.

The three bishops who did not make it to the next stage are Constantia-Famagusta’s Vasilios, Morphou’s Neofytos, and Kyrenia’s Chrysostomos.

The Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus is one of the few Orthodox Churches worldwide to recognize the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in a move which triggered a rift within the Cypriot church in 2020, noted Reuters.

Christian Orthodox Bishop Neapoleos Porfirios casts his vote during the church elections for the new Archbishop at Saint Barnabas Cathedral in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. The Archbishop in Cyprus is elected by lay voters in combination with a college of senior clerics, a tradition that goes back centuries. The college of clerics selects the new Archbishop from the top three candidates who garnered the most lay votes. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Chrysostomos had recognised the independence of the Ukrainian church away from Russia’s influence, butting heads with clerics considered pro-Russian even during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine bringing division.

Athanasios and Isaias opposed Chrysostomos’ decision to recognize Ukraine’s split from Russia’s influence, though both have said the difference is now in the past, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Christian Orthodox Bishop Neapoleos Porfirios leaves a booth before casting his ballot during the church elections for the new Archbishop at Saint Barnabas Cathedral in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. The Archbishop in Cyprus is elected by lay voters in combination with a college of senior clerics, a tradition that goes back centuries. The college of clerics selects the new Archbishop from the top three candidates who garnered the most lay votes. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Christian Orthodox Bishop Neapoleos Porfirios casts his vote during the church elections for the new Archbishop at Saint Barnabas Cathedral in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. The Archbishop in Cyprus is elected by lay voters in combination with a college of senior clerics, a tradition that goes back centuries. The college of clerics selects the new Archbishop from the top three candidates who garnered the most lay votes. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

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