+ Christodoulos

ATHENS: Bells tolled and canon shots rang out in tribute as the Greek Orthodox Church head, Archbishop Christodoulos, was buried in Athens yesterday.

Christodoulos, who mended ties with the Vatican but clashed with the Greek state, died after a seven-month battle with cancer on Monday at the age of 69. The Church said a successor would be elected by the Holy Synod on February 7.

Public offices and schools were shut on a day of nationwide mourning. Thousands of mourners followed the funeral procession. Black-clad mourners, many weeping, sat quietly for hours on the pavement.

Dressed in white clerical robes in an open casket, the body was carried from the Athens cathedral to the cemetery on an army truck. Onlookers threw flowers on his casket amid shouts of “axios” (worthy) and “athanatos” (immortal).

“This man needs to be made a saint,” an elderly Greek said.

He is credited with improving ties with the Vatican, agreeing to a 2001 visit by Pope John Paul that marked a turning point in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

A bitter feud with the government over new ID cards, which no longer listed religion, his tirades against the EU and European culture and negative references to Turks and homosexuals affected his popularity.

President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and a 12-member delegation from the Vatican, attended the funeral mass.

His remains were buried in the First Cemetery, the historic Athens graveyard, where all leading Greeks are lain to rest.

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Military pic SOURCE
Pic with clergy procession SOURCE

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