Head of Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, dies aged 81

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis walks with Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II during a meeting with the Holy Synod at Apostle Varnavas Cathedral, in Nicosia, Cyprus, December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou/

NICOSIA — The head of Cyprus’s independent Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, died early on Monday, his doctors said. He was 81.

A forceful character who stared down pro-Russian elements in the Church, Chrysostomos was among Orthodox leaders to recognize the independence of the Church of Ukraine from the Orthodox Church in Moscow in 2020.

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He had been critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Mr Putin can go to Church, he can take communion, but at the same time kills. Is that his Orthodoxy?” He said in an interview to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation earlier this year.

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Chrysostomos was elected Archbishop in 2006. The Church of Cyprus is an independent branch of the Eastern Orthodox communion.

Diagnosed with cancer four years ago, Chrysostomos took a dim view of clerics resisting vaccination to the coronavirus pandemic, threatening to fire those vocal against the jab. He was also fiercely critical of Turkey, which invaded the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 after a brief Greece-inspired coup.

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