The Associated Press
Greece’s Orthodox Church leader, Archbishop Christodoulos, who eased centuries of tension with the Vatican but angered liberal critics who viewed him as an attention-seeking reactionary, died Monday at his home of cancer, church officials said. He was 69.
Christodoulos, who headed the church for a decade, was first hospitalized in Athens in June before being diagnosed with cancer of the liver and large intestine.
He spent 10 weeks in a hospital in Miami but an October liver transplant operation was canceled when doctors discovered the cancer had spread. He refused hospital treatment in the final weeks of his life.
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 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. They held the landmark meeting in Athens despite vigorous protests from Orthodox zealots.
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 stating opposition to abortion and euthanasia.