February 26, 2008

Archbishop Christodoulos, spiritual leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church, died January 28 of cancer. He was 69. Christodoulos’s decade as archbishop of Greece was marked by improved relations between Orthodox Christians and Catholics. In 2001 he received Pope John Paul II, the first pope to visit Greece in centuries, thawing tensions dating back to the 11th-century schism between the Eastern and Western churches. Five years later, Christodoulos returned the favor, visiting Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, where the leaders agreed to work together to combat abortion, euthanasia and the “de-Christianization of Europe.” Following his diagnosis last year, Christodoulos spent several weeks in Miami awaiting a liver transplant, but the operation was canceled in October when doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. He died at home in Athens.