Voting in the elections for a new Archbishop on Sunday, President Nicos Anastasiades said he hoped the “best would be elected”.
“Each Archbishop is also the spiritual leader of the country, for the Greek Orthodox people. Therefore, I hope that the best will be elected,” he said casting his vote at the Ayios Nektarios church in Limassol.
Asked whether he was sure of his choice in advance, he added, “I had crystallised an opinion. I live in this country. I repeat that I hope the best will be elected.”
In response to a reporter who said the president will not have the opportunity to work with the new Archbishop as his own term of office comes to an end in February, he said “I will have the opportunity, I believe, to be at the enthronement”.
Asked if at this point he would send his own message about what is expected of the new Archbishop, Anastasiades said “the role of the Church is a historical role, it is a spiritual role, it is social, it includes everything that God’s love teaches.”
Asked if this role is not political, he said “no, I don’t think that in modern times the Church can be involved in politics. An opinion, of course, he has always had and will have, especially on national issues. In politics, it is now purely a matter of the democratic freedoms of the people, of the institutions, as defined in each State and, therefore, I do not see the political role of the Church in terms of events in the State”.
Meanwhile, police were out in force to make sure the election of a new Archbishop went smoothly.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou said that officers are on the ground in all districts.
He said police patrols will monitor all election centres so they will operate “in conditions of normality, order and security”.
Christou added that police will take security measures in all possible venues or places they are needed.
He said a Crisis Situation Handling Centre has been established by police officers including MMAD officers.
The bishops standing for the post of Archbishop are Paphos Georgios, Kyrenia Chrysostomos, Limassol Athanasios, Morphou Neophytos, Constantia-Famagusta Vasilios and Tamassos Isaias.
The popular vote on Sunday will see the people pick the top three candidates, out of whom the Hold Synod will pick the new Archbishop in the coming days.
Voting at 942 centres around the island will close on Sunday at 6pm. A total of 549,000 people are entitled to vote.
Bishops Isaias of Tamassos called on people to vote whether they like the “Church or not”.
Despite following the work of the Church, he said those in the clergy had failed to shine the light of Christ on all its people.
Voting at the Apostolos Varnavas cathedral in Nicosia, Bishop Georgios of Paphos said “we must always think about the next day”.
Bishop Athanasios of Limassol was welcomed to the Ayia Napa church in Limassol by children with flowers. He said Sunday was a day of celebration as the people had been given the chance to select the top three candidates. He added that he had no idea who would come out on top but was not getting stressed about the results.
Archbishopric elections commissioner Ioannis Charilaou said all had started smoothly across the island with no problems reported at any voting centre. He also called on people to make sure they voted.