By Jean Christou
ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos celebrated his name day on Thursday, giving out free cake at the Archbishopric, having lunch with the President, and weighing in on issues ranging from poverty to politics.
He also received visits from members of the public, officials, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim and other religious leaders, such as Turkish Cypriot Mufti Talip Atalay.
The Primate said the financial crisis had forced the Church to put on hold some development projects so that it could tend to the poor.
“Unfortunately, some of our people are hungry,” he said, adding however that the Church was engaged in investment efforts to try and create jobs.
Referring to the Turkish violations of the island’s exclusive economic zone, he urged that the issue be approached calmly by the Greek Cypriot side because “Turkey was daily exposing itself”.
He himself was working closely with the Mufti, he said, to bring peace. In that respect, he said, he had spoken with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides giving his blessing to a visit to the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca for Turkish Cypriots on November 22. He said the minister had agreed.
The Mufti wished the Archbishop a happy name day and thanked him for his intervention in the Tekke visit. “This is particularly important for the Muslims of the island,” he said. Atalay said he and the Archbishop would continue to work together to achieve a lasting peace in Cyprus.
The Mufti declined to comment on the EEZ issue, saying he did not wish to become mixed up in it.
“It is not our job, as religious leaders to get involved in politics, but the cooperation of the religious leaders can facilitate the work of the politicians,” he added.
At the palace, the Archbishop and President Nicos Anastasiades both spoke of the close cooperation between Church and state.