Leader of Greece's Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, dies
File - Athens - April 5, 2001
1. Mid of the late Pope John Paul II meeting with Archbishop Christodoulos
2. Archbishop Christodoulos addressing Pope John Paul II
File - October 21, 2007
3. Mid of Archbishop Christodoulos arriving at St. Sophia church
4. Mid of Christodoulos walking along, UPSOUND: (English)
(Reporter Question: How are you feeling?)
5. Archbishop addressing the church during mass
6. SOUNDBITE: (Greek) Archbishop Christodoulos, the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece:
++TRANSLATION NOT AVAILABLE++
7. Archbishop Christodoulos leaving church and embracing man
Greece's Orthodox Church leader, Archbishop Christodoulos, who eased centuries of tension with the Vatican but angered liberal critics who viewed him as a reactionary figure, died of cancer on Monday aged 69.
Christodoulos, who led the church for a decade, was first hospitalised in Athens in June before being diagnosed with cancer of the liver and large intestine.
He spent 10 weeks in a hospital in Miami. In October a liver transplant operation was cancelled when doctors discovered the cancer had spread. He refused hospital treatment in the final weeks of his life. He died at his home in the Athens suburb of Psyhico, church officials said.
Greek authorities announced three days of national mourning. Across the country flags flew at half-mast, including on top of the ancient Acropolis and on the parliament building. The archbishop's body will lie in state until the funeral, which will likely be held on Thursday, church officials and local authorities said.
Christodoulos was elected church leader in 1998 and is credited with reinvigorating the vast institution that represents 97 percent of Greece's native born population.
He was one of several leaders of national Orthodox churches across the world. Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians.
Christodoulos helped create church Web sites and radio stations, and frequently issued detailed checklists on how black-clad Orthodox priests should conduct themselves in public.
In 2001, Christodoulos received the late John Paul II, the first pope to visit Greece in nearly 1,300 years, in Athens despite protests from other members of the Orthodox church.
The archbishop followed up in 2006 with an historic visit to the Vatican, where he and Pope Benedict XVI signed a joint declaration calling for inter-religious dialogue and pledging opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis paid tribute to the bravery the archbishop showed during his sickness in a statement released on Monday.
Christodoulos was born Christos Paraskevaidis in 1939 in the northeastern Greek city of Xanthi, one of two sons of a wholesale food importer and devoutly religious mother.
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