By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ Orthodox Church has elected Paphos Bishop Georgios as its new leader. The 73-year-old cleric on Saturday received nine votes from the 16-member Holy Synod, the church’s highest decision-making body, against four for runner-up Limassol Bishop Athanasios. The Holy Synod’s decision followed a Dec. 18 lay vote among all Orthodox Christians on the east Mediterranean island nation in which Athanasios topped the poll. According to the Church’s constitution, a lay vote is held to select the top three bishops and then the Holy Synod holds its own secret ballot to elect the new archbishop. Georgios had been pegged as the favorite to win the Synod’s vote despite Athanasios’ lay vote victory.