Church-State Separation - Still A Good Idea
As soon as the leaders of Cyprus' largest communities announced that they were about to intensify negotiations in January with the aim of submitting a plan for reunification, Orthodox Church leaders started making statements against it.
On Christmas Day, Archbishop Chrysostomos used the occasion to pontificate against what he described as a 'plan worse than the Annan Plan', which would lead to the 'eradication of Hellenism' in Cyprus and legalise Turkey's occupation as well as give away human rights at a 'discount'.
Considering that no plan has been agreed upon or yet submitted to the Cypriot people, Mr. Chrysostomos is jumping the gun to say the very least.
Furthermore, the method that Mr. Chrysostomos used to send his message can be construed as undue influence of the Cypriot viewers. With access to the media (the Archbishop's speeches are transmitted by all media channels) and there is consequently high coverage of the Church's positions; such comments on the government's actions could influence the progress of the peace talks in a negative way.
Up until fairly recently, the Church ran the Cyprus government. Back in the days when its members were allowed political office, priests had a real say in how the country was run. However, those days are over.
In this writer's opinion, the separation of Church and State is a very good thing: the Church should pay attention to helping their congregations to overcome their daily problems, help with their spiritual lives and leave politics to the professionals.