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Our View: Archbishop’s outlandish statements make mockery of his position

Archbishop Chrysostomos

Despite being seriously ill, Archbishop Chrysostomos still enjoys grabbing attention by opening his mouth and talking about matters he should stay clear of, like the presidential elections. In an interview in Politis on Sunday he took on the role of presidential election analyst, informing us who was the favourite, who had no chance and that Akel’s candidate would be tied up in knots by the party.

They were the kind of views that are aired among friends and acquaintances at cafés and bars, not what we expect to hear from the head of the Church. His remarks about the bishops who sided with Moscow against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the second part of the interview published on Monday, were also inappropriate. He accused the two bishops of being Protestants and one of them of siding with Moscow, because he needed money and a Russian had built a church in his diocese.

This makes great content for the media but at the same time the archbishop is making a mockery of himself and his position by interfering in politics in such a crude way. Then again, he has made a habit of interfering in politics because nobody has dared tell him to stick to church matters. Before the 2008 elections, he predicted Tassos Papadopoulos would win, not to mention his pronouncements about the Cyprus problem, which are anything but helpful.

In Sunday’s interview he came out in support of Nicos Christodoulides, while disingenuously claiming he was not close to any candidate. Christodoulides was the “only politician since Archbishop Makarios who has popular support,” he said, and blamed the theft of Ioannis Kasoulides’ first campaign speech by Christodoulides on his communications advisor; he said it was a trap to cause damage. Not even the spokesman of Christodoulides would have been so absolute in denying the candidate had any responsibility for copying big chunks of someone else’s speech word for word. He also defended the candidate’s choice of an English private school for his four daughters, at the taxpayer’s expense.

This does not suggest an archbishop that is not close to any candidate. In fact, his assertion that Disy candidate Averof Neophytou would not get enough votes to make it to the second round of the elections was also designed to assist the candidate he was, allegedly, not close to. There are eight months to go until the presidential elections, during which time a lot can change, so how could anyone make such a prediction without qualifications or caveats? According to election guru Chrysostomos’ logic we should not even bother with elections as one candidate has popular support, like Makarios had, while the candidate of the biggest party will not even get 20 per cent of the vote.

As if it were not bad enough having an archbishop interfering in politics, he has now decided to act like the cheerleader of a specific candidate.

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