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Archbishop branded anachronistic in ongoing spat on elections (Update)

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Archbishop Chrysostomos’ comments on the presidential elections, in which, among other things, he accused Akel of being British agents sparked widespread reaction, with some condemning him as anachronistic.

In a wide-ranging interview with daily Politis published in two parts, Chrysostomos praised presidential candidate Nikos Christodoulides as being the only person since Makarios to command popular support, even offering advice on how to campaign.

He claimed, however, that he did not support any single candidate, despite the praise for Christodoulides.

“I am not close to anyone, but I can see that since the Makarios era, only Christodoulides has popular support,” he said.

He further stirred the pot by stating that President Nicos Anastasiades’ children support Christodoulides, adding that it will be difficult for Disy candidate Averof Neophytou to make it to the second round.

Neophytou responded soon after, stating that the head of the Church of Cyprus has every right as a citizen of the nation to express his opinion, but emphasised that Disy was set up to counter the “populist methods and practices” of the Makarios era.

And while Akel was in the archbishop’s firing line, it was the Disy leader’s comments which proved the most explosive for the left-wing party.

Later on Monday, Akel’s spokesman Giorgos Koukoumas hit out – saying that Neophytou’s remarks echoed the “myth of Eoka B”, that the elected president at the time was a dictator and that’s why the coup occurred.

“Also opposed to Makarios was the treacherous Eoka B, as Disy headquarters would do well to remember,” Koukoumas said.

He further stated that: “Since they want to reopen a debate on the historical events, they should finally admit which side of history they were on.”

Across the political divide, former Greens party leader George Perdikis on Monday criticised the archbishop’s public statements as anachronistic, saying: “No, as the archbishop he does not have the right to get involved with such issues.”

New Wave presidential candidate Constantinos Christofides said that it appears some others running in the election have sought the church’s support.

“Our position is the implementation of the constitution as regards the relationship between church and state,” he said.

Elsewhere, the archbishop claimed that Akel were British agents and that everyone was aware of this. Akel said that such comments did not even merit a response.

And while the archbishop’s interview on Sunday focused on the presidential elections, in the second part, on Monday, he turned against the bishops that had sided with the Moscow patriarchate in the Orthodox Church’s dispute over the independence of the Ukraine church.

Chrysostomos and the majority of bishops followed the Ecumenical Patriarchate and recognized the Ukraine Church’s independence from Moscow, while two bishops adamantly refused to toe the line and refused to participate in services jointly with the Archbishop.

The Archbishop said he told the bishops, “you are not members of the Church of Cyprus, you are Protestants.”

Asked how he explained the stance of the two bishops, he said he thought they had been misled, but there was also the issue of money, about which he said:

“I do not want to believe that Bishop of Kykkos takes money or needs money from Moscow. He has no need. The Bishop of Tamassos might need it; a Russian built a church for him up there.”

Bishop of Kykkos, Nikiforos, issued a statement later on Monday saying the conversation the Archbishop claimed he had with him and the Bishop of Tamassos Isaias, never happened. As regards labelling them Protestants and claiming they did not belong to the Church, Nikiforos, this “contravenes every trace of church ethics and brotherly behaviour.”

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