Archbishop Chrysostomos II: I would even back a black man
In February 2013, Cyprus will take part in its Presidential elections. Although a few months away, the elections have gained global attention this week because of comments by Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.
In an interview with the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, the Archbishop was questioned about who he would be supporting in the forthcoming elections. Chrysostomos II stated that he had the most in common with EDEK-backed candidate Giorgos Lillikas. When pressed further if he would ever support a left wing President, provided they had the same views, the Archbishop replied:
“I would even back a black man, if we had the same views.”
Such blatant racism is shocking and from the head of the Church is unforgiveable. The presumptive use of the word ‘even’ clearly demonstrates his disdainful attitude towards black people. The Christian doctrine espouses equal treatment of all, and in his role as head of the Church, not only should Chrystostomas II treat people equally, but through the vehicle of the Church, he should actively be combatting all forms of inequality.
Moreover, this is not the first incident which he has been involved in. Chrysostomos II is known for his right-wing nationalist views and has been previously been accused of purposely stoking a culture of racism. He branded illegal immigrants in Cyprus as, "interlopers who do not belong on the island". He admits espousing several other political ideas of the Cyprus' National People’s Front (ELAM), a fanatical movement whose members wear black uniforms and whose literature is being investigated for violating anti-racism laws.
His comments give a revealing insight into how deeply seated racism is within society. Although his views may not be representative of the Church, his position as Archbishop of Cyprus gives his vile beliefs an impression of legitimacy as well as a dangerously powerful platform from which to espouse them. He may be a man of the cloth, and an Archbishop too, but he is also a racist. He should not be allowed to warp a position designed to serve the community, to instead divide and damage it.