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REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
World News

Cyprus Church picks theologian and chemistry teacher as new leader

by Reuters Journalist

The Church of Cyprus's ruling body on Saturday elected Georgios, a theologian and former chemistry teacher, as Archbishop of the centuries-old Church, replacing the late Chrysostomos II.

Georgios, 73, will lead the Greek Orthodox Church, which has wide political and social influence on the east Mediterranean island and interests from real estate investments to businesses.

Having read chemistry in Greece and Britain and later taught at high schools, Georgios was elected by a majority on the 16-member Holy Synod.

Custodian of the Church since Chrysostomos's death, Georgios was close to the late Archbishop, who notably recognised the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from Russia.

It is one of a handful of Orthodox Churches worldwide to do so, even though it triggered a rift within its ranks.

The selection process was among three frontrunners from a Dec. 18 public vote. Georgios came second in that vote, trailing by a wide margin behind Athanasios of Limassol.

Athanasios, viewed as ultra-conservative by detractors but enlightened by supporters, also topped the public vote in the last Archbishop elections in 2006, but was edged out then by manoeuvring from other clerics.

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