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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Hippy message of love from church frontrunner

athanasios (limassol)
Bishop Athanasios of Limassol

‘MACHIAVELLIAN’ was how one newspaper described the bishops’ wheeler-dealing and plotting, which began as soon as the funeral orations for Archbishop Chrys II were completed, and the battle for his succession commenced.

Every day there have been long press reports about the shenanigans of the bishops, the misinformation about alliances, the preference of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the involvement of the Greek government and so forth.

This is before the candidacies of the bishops have even been submitted. This is scheduled for Tuesday, and from what we read and hear, it would be no surprise if every member of the Holy Synod is a candidate to become archbishop.

Enjoying the power and status of archbishop until you draw your final breath is a temptation not even those closest to God have the strength to resist. Ambition and thirst for earthly power are human weaknesses that cannot be suppressed, no matter how holy you are.

Our establishment is praying that the most unpopular and devious bishop wins because the last time a popular bishop became archbishop, he managed to lose half the country to Turkey, and we carried on praising him to high heaven.


THE MOST popular is said to be the bishop of Limassol Athanasios, who was edged out by the devious and unpopular Chrys II in the last elections.

Athanasios, who has been marketing his humility and devoutness ever since he appeared on the church scene, giving regular public lectures about the faith (was it a form of campaigning?), has gathered around him an army of zealots, willing to climb Mount Golgotha for his sake.

For now, the zealots, have set up a website under the name, ‘Support group for bishop of Limassol Athanasios,’ which features the cheesy slogan, “In these elections, you have a say! The say of love!” Love is the slogan of the campaign.

Anyone who had listened to him being interviewed on Trito radio on Thursday would have heard his message of love in almost all the answers he gave. He sounded like some loved-up geriatric hippy, who had never left the 60s.

The website also gave figures of Athanasios’ charity work with the bishopric’s money, another show of his love. “3,000+ daily meals to students and our poor fellow citizens; 35 social programmes; 50,000+ visitors to bishopric camps in the last 20 years.”

If his unqualified love for everyone leads to an expansion of these charity programmes to cover all Kyproulla, when he becomes archbishop he could bankrupt the church.


THE ZEALOTS of Athanasios, unable to campaign for him while waiting for the archbishop to die, were reportedly campaigning for the devout churchgoer Nicos Christodoulides, another Machiavellian operator who appears to have reached some deal with the bishop of love.

This could partly explain why he enjoys such a strong following in Limassol, even though he is a Paphite that has been living in Nicosia. Mrs Future President, who is more devout and God-fearing than her hubby, could have had something to do with forging the alliance as she is from Limassol and a loyal member of the churchgoing set. Then again, she has been filmed attending a demented sermon by the bishop of Morphou who will also be standing.

Will the two candidates be running on the church and state unity election ticket? Probably not, but if the religious, dream team is elected, nobody could bet against them running the show as a holy triumvirate (Mrs President will join), declaring the country the Theocratic Republic of Kyproulla and using the Athanasios zealots to enforce religious law.


IN A THROWBACK to the political backwardness of the 70s and 80s, 12 retired ambassadors issued a statement supporting the Christodoulides candidacy that was published in Phil. The declaration of support reads like an hagiography of the man which any self-respecting person would have been embarrassed to be associated with, let alone sign.

“We had the opportunity to get to know him as a friend, colleague, associate and minister and to appreciate his ethos, his insight, his integrity, the broadness of his understanding and his dedication to the interest of the country,” said the 12 ambassadors.

“We consider Nicos Christodoulides a modern Cypriot politician, with a European orientation, who commands recognition and respect abroad and wide acceptance domestically.”

That Christodoulides sanctioned this laughable ode to his perfection proves beyond any doubt that, like the ambassadors say, he is “a modern Cypriot politician, with a European orientation”. The only thing more laughable is that anyone would vote for him because he has been endorsed by 12 superannuated, self-regarding, retired ambassadors.


THE ABOMINATION of a winter World Cup in the great footballing nation of Qatar is upon us. Everyone knows how the mega-wealthy Qataris secured the right to stage the world’s biggest tournament, and if they do not, they could get a detailed account watching the Netflix documentary series Fifa Uncovered.

We should also thank the Cypriot member of the Fifa executive committee, Marios Lefkaritis, who voted for the World Cup to be staged in a tiny desert state, with no football stadiums, no football tradition and in the middle of the league seasons in most countries, because it would be too hot in the summer.

Unlike many of his colleagues on the Fifa executive committee who took bribes to vote for Qatar and some ended up in prison, Lefkaritis voted for Qatar because he believed it was the ideal country for the World Cup. The Qataris bought some overpriced real estate on the Larnaca seafront from Lefkaritis, but this was after the World Cup had been secured and had nothing to do with his pro-Qatar vote.


IN 2010, when the World Cup was awarded to Qatar Fifa also voted for the country that would stage the 2018 competition, which was Russia. No surprises for guessing who Kyproulla’s member of the executive committee voted for, especially as the rival bid was from perfidious Albion.

Before the vote, a delegation of parliamentary party leaders visited Moscow where they met Vladimir Putin, who was serving as prime minister at the time. A member of the delegation recounted how the only thing Putin was interested in was the World Cup.

After the head of the delegation thanked him for Russia’s principled stand on the Cyprob and his country’s support, Putin did not beat about the bush. “Your executive member on the Fifa committee will vote for Russia to stage the World Cup,” he told them. It was an order, not a request and the message was conveyed to Lefkaritis, who made the patriotic choice.


HEALTH minister Michalis Hadjipantela, spoke frankly about how industrial disputes in the public sector are resolved. Asked last Monday what he would do about the planned three-hour strike by doctors at public hospitals, he said he would hold meetings in an attempt to find a compromise acceptable to the doctors.

“When there are problems we always step in and find solutions,” he said, citing as an example the case of the specialist doctors who had complained about long hours and working conditions. After a meeting with them, a compromise was found. “We agreed on the timetable and on a significant pay rise,” said Hadjipantelas.

The minister should consider writing a book on his ingenious formula for securing a compromise with troublesome workers.


I SEE the Akel youth did not miss the opportunity to stage a demonstration outside the US embassy on the anniversary of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising against the country’s military Junta. These kids weren’t around at the time so why do they care?

It was the Greek military that quashed the uprising, not the Yanks. But the anti-US hostility cultivated, encouraged and funded by the Soviet Union in the days of the Cold War has successfully been kept alive by the comrades of Akel, even though the number of kids willing to take part in these ludicrous protests has drastically declined.

In fact the only incentive for participating in the November 17 protest at the US embassy is that they miss a day of school.


PREZ NIK had his prayers answered last week when he was finally visited by the UN Assistant General-Secretary for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenca, to help along the theatre that he was working on the resumption of the talks.

Jenca underlined the UNSG’s “commitment to staying engaged in the process of searching for common ground and finding understanding to move forward the issue of the settlement….” This must have been very reassuring for Nik, who can leave the presidency with a clear conscience, knowing the search for common ground will continue, after he’s gone.

That it will never be found is not a concern as long as the search continues.


THE ELECTION campaign for archbishop has produced yet another ‘only in Kyproulla’ occurrence. The spokesman of the crackpot Bishop of Morphou, Neofytos, will be the presidential candidate Christodoulos Protopapas, who will perform this job right up to the elections for archbishop, before reverting to his role as presidential candidate. And if Neofytos is not elected, will he be appointed spokesman of the Protopapas campaign?



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