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The Church of Cyprus chooses theologian and chemistry teacher as new leader

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NICOSIA (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The governing body of the Church in Cyprus on Saturday elected Georgios, a theologian and former chemistry teacher, as archbishop of the secular church, replacing the late Chrysostomos II.

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

Having studied chemistry in Greece and Great Britain and later taught high school, Georgios was elected by majority vote to the 16-member Holy Synod.

Guardian of the Church since the death of Chrysostomos, Georgios was close to the late archbishop, who especially recognized the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Russia.

It is one of the few Orthodox Churches in the world to do so, even though it has triggered a rift within its ranks.

The selection process was among the top three in a December 18 public vote. Georgios finished second in that voting, trailing Athanasios of Limassol by a large margin.

Athanasios, seen as ultra-conservative by detractors but enlightened by supporters, also won the public vote in the last archbishop’s election in 2006, but was then maneuvered out by other clergymen.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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