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 Archbishop Christodoulos dies at 69

St. Simon's Island, Ga., January 28, 2008  ̶  The general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA has added his voice to the chorus of condolences and expressions of grief over the death today of Archbishop Christodoulos, 69, who headed Greece's Orthodox Church for 10 years.

"Archbishop Christodoulos reached out to his Christian sisters and brothers in a truly ecumenical spirit," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon from the NCC's quadrennial commissions meeting at the Epworth By the Sea conference center in Georgia.

"I particularly remember his warmth and collegial spirit at the World Council of Churches' Conference on World Mission and Evangelism  in Athens in May 2005," said Kinnamon, who attended the conference as a professor from Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis.

Kinnamon said Christodoulos had reminded the conference that the Greek Orthodox Church had suffered in the past of what the archbishop called "aggressive missionary activities and hostile actions," but he had expressed "a determination to join forces with other Christians in dialogue and common witness."

Christodoulos, who was elected archbishop in 1993, is widely credited with giving new life to the church that includes 97 percent of the population of Greece.

In 2001, he welcomed Pope John Paul II to Greece, the first time a Roman Catholic pope had made the trip in 1,300 years. In 2006, the archbishop made his own historic visit to the Vatican, where he and Pope Benedict XVI signed a joint declaration calling for inter-religious dialogue.

World Council of Churches photo by Peter Williams.



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