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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-29

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Holy Synod to elect new Archbishop on Feb. 7
  • [02] …nner Cabinet convenes
  • [03] FinMin: We can do more
  • [04] Energy conservation in Larissa
  • [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Holy Synod to elect new Archbishop on Feb. 7

    The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece will convene on February 7 to elect a new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, following the passing away early Monday of Archbishop Christodoulos, after a seven-month battle with cancer.

    The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece held an extensive meeting on Monday following the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, during which it set the date for electing a new Archbishop.

    The session, which ended late in the afternoon, discussed details of the four-day mourning period, during which the archbishop's body will lie in state at Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, and decided that the funeral that will be held on Thursday at 10:00.

    Christodoulos will be buried at the Athens 1st cemetery immediately after the funeral procession, while the Holy Synod has requested those wanting to send a wreath to instead make a donation to some charitable cause or foundation.

    Thessaloniki's metropolitan Anthimos announced that the election for the new head of the Greek Orthodox Church will be beld on February 7 at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral.

    Archbishop Christodoulos passed away on Monday at 5:15 a.m. (3:15 GMT) after battling cancer for the past seven months. Earlier, his attending physicians, close associates and numerous clerics hastily assembled at the Archbishop's official residence in the Athens district of Paleo Psyhico, as Christodoulos had declined to leave his home for a hospital in his last days.

    The late Archbishop was born Christos Paraskevaidis on January 16, 1939 in the northeastern city of Xanthi. He studied law and theology, obtaining a doctorate in theology,along with degrees in French and English. A young Christodoulos was ordained as a deacon in 1961 and as a presbyter (senior priest) in 1965.

    He served as a homilist (preacher) at an influential parish in southern Athens (Paleo Faliro) for nine years, before holding the important position of Holy Synod secretary for seven years.

    At the age of 35 in 1974 Christodoulos was elected as the Metropolitan of Dimitriada, the bishopric based in the central Greece port city of Volos, where he served until his election, in 1998, as the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, becoming the Church's youngest ever Archbishop at the age of 59.

    Christodoulos was a prolific writer and columnist, penning numerous scholarly articles in both church publications and periodicals around Greece and abroad. His best-known works include ?Hellenism Proselytised: The Passage from Antiquity to Christianity?, ?The Soul of Europe?, and his opus ?Historical and Canonical Consideration of the Old Calendarist Issue During its Emergence and Development in Greece?, which was his doctoral dissertation. He also participated in missionary work overseas.

    Christodoulos‚ presence in the predominately Greek Orthodox nation of 11 million was immediate, as his rhetorical skills and amiable personality were employed as potent communication tools to reinvigorate the Greek Church‚s venerated but often uninspiring role in the country, and especially its emphasis to reach out to younger generations.

    The influential Christodoulos‚ call towards teenagers to ?come as you are, even with your earring? and his frequent visits to schools caused his popularity to soar in his first years on the Archbishop‚s throne. Along with an emphasis on reaching out to younger people, Christodoulos was also credited with establishing and further strengthening Church-affiliated charities, including ones aiding people on society‚s fringes, such as drug addicts, unwed mothers and battered women. The culmination of heightened philanthropic efforts under Christodoulos' tenure came with the establishment of the Greek Church NGO ?Allileggii? (Solidarity), which quickly engaged in humanitarian relief efforts on a global scale.

    As the ?cyber era? exploded throughout most of the world in the late 1990s, Christodoulos cast aside the Church‚s usual cautiousness vis-?-vis modernity to eagerly embrace new communication technologies, promoting the establishment of the Church‚s first-ever website, a digital library available in nine languages that includes art and music archives, as well as a portal for cultural news in Greek and English.

    Heading towards the dawn of the new millennium, Christodoulos became even more outspoken in his views - whether from the pulpit or in statements at well-attended events -- regarding the Church and its relations with the state and society, with reactions ranging from jubilant enthusiasm, by the Orthodox faithful, to cries of obscurantism by his secular critics in the country.

    Two major clashes punctuated Christodoulos‚ tenure as head of the Greek Church: his quarrel, often taking on a personal tone, with the Simitis government, shortly after the general election in 2000, over the issue of a religious affiliation listing on police-issued ID cards; and, in 2004, a ?chill? in relations between the Autocephalous Church of Greece and its spiritual elder, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, the world‚s most ancient Orthodox Church. The latter dispute was ostensibly over canonical jurisdiction in a number of northern Greece bishoprics.

    The socialist government more-or-less ignored heated Church protests and proceeded with the removal of the religious affiliation from ID cards and essentially ended the controversy, whereas a full rapprochement between the ?sister Churches? of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate was achieved in late 2004, following mediation by the education and religious affairs minister at the time, Marietta Yiannakou.

    A milestone in Christodoulos‚ tenure came with the unprecedented official visit of late Pope John Paul II to Athens in 2001, a visit that had appeared unthinkable decades before.

    The Archbishop brushed aside heated protests from within the Church‚s more zealous quarters and lent his support for the pontifical visit, personally taking the podium at a Holy Synod session to win over the Greek Church‚s sceptical bishops.

    With a gracious Christodoulos at his side, John Paul II expressed the Roman Catholic Church‚s historic apology for past wrongs, a defining moment in recent ecclesiastical history, and one that essentially allowed for a genuine thaw in 21st century relations between the Churches of East and West. Christodoulos reciprocated in 2006 with an official visit to the Vatican and an audience with new Pope Benedict XVI.

    The Archbishop‚s life was forever changed on a sunny Saturday, the 9th of June, 2007. Christodoulos fell ill while preparing for a visit to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Immediate medical tests revealed that he suffered from advanced cancer in the large intestine and an unrelated malignant growth in the liver.

    A first operation to remove the intestinal cancer was deemed successful, while consultations amongst his attending physicians finally led to a decision to seek treatment in the United States, and specifically at an internationally acclaimed clinic in Miami, Florida.

    Initial despair with the news of the cancer turned into guarded optimism after the first operation and quickly manifested into a strong conviction amongst the public opinion and Christodoulos‚ close associates that the Archbishop was on the road to a full recovery with a pending a liver transplant in America.

    Christodoulos departed Greece on Aug. 18 aboard a state executive jet, headed for Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Greek-American transplant specialist Andreas Tzakis waited.

    Fifty days later Christodoulos is quickly prepared for surgery when a donor match is found, only to be whisked from the operating theatre without the hoped-for procedure taking place - a dejected Tzakis merely announces to waiting cameras that the liver cancer has spread to the chest cavity, making the transplant impossible.

    Christodoulos returned to Greece shortly afterwards, where he spent his days at home in prayer and contemplation, interspersed with visits by government and political officials, church officials and friends, refusing to be admitted to hospital but opting instead for treatment at home.

    Caption: File photo of the late Archbishop Christodoulos (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

    [02] …nner Cabinet convenes

    [03] FinMin: We can do more

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that the country was entering a new phase in the coordinated efforts between the authoritative ministries and the business community aimed at boosting exports, in his opening address to the 12th conference of the National Exports Council.

    Alogoskoufis said that the new market trends would be taken advantage of, adding that exports were expected to reach 9.8 percentage points of GDP in 2008, compared with 9.6 percentage points in 2007 and 8.4 percentage points in 2004.

    "We can do more," Alogoskoufis said, although noting the uncertainties over the international economy, and called on the business world and agencies to submit proposals and ideas so as to strengthen the efforts for increasing exports, while leaving open the prospect of the government offering tax incentives to boost exports.

    Referring to the Hellenic Exports Promotion Organisation (HEPO), he said that the organisation has evolved into a spearhead of the effort, carrying out 115 related activities in 2008 and 140 in 2007.

    Over the past two years, with HEPO's help, approximately 1,200 Greek enterprises came into contact with 3,000 foreign businesses, the minister said, stressing that the increase in exports was continuing.

    In particular, he said, Greek exports to Romania jumped by 33 percent in 2007 against 2006, while exports to China increased by 21.7 percent during that same period.

    For 2008, HEPO has planned 175 activities in 58 countries, Alogoskoufis said, calling it the "most ambitious programme" developed by the organisation to date.

    Addressing the Council, deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas said that many steps have been made for the growth of the Greek economy and its extroversion.

    He also noted the difficulties and obstacles at international level, such as spiralling oil prices, increased prices of farm goods, and the parity of the euro against foreign currencies, to name a few, but nevertheless expressed confiction that the increase in esprots would continue, particularly given the high growth rates in the wider region of southeastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf.

    Doukas further highlighted the business missions being planned abroad by the foreign ministry's relevant department, which included Algeria, Egypt, the Emiraes, Oman, Qatar, China, Russian, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Vietnam, the US, Brazil, Venezuela, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis

    [04] Energy conservation in Larissa

    Energy conservation pilot programme in Larissa The municipality of Larissa, central Greece, is a pioneer in energy conservation with the implementation of a pilot programme in 17 city streets. The programme, complying with relative EU directives on energy conservation, is being implemented in Larissa on a pilot basis for the past three years. Roughly 500,000 KWH of electrical energy were saved, corresponding to 43 percent of the overall consumption, estimated at 600,000 euros. In addition, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is down 350 tons on an annual basis.

    [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The deep sorrow over Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos' death on Monday after a 7-month battle with cancer and the procedures for his succession mainly dominated the headlines of Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Just before his death the Archbishop said :Don't be sad, I'm ready to hand over my soul to God - Massive turnout of people at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral to pay last respects to Christodoulos".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The end...Last words of the Archbishop: I deliver body and soul to the hands of God - Strong emotion nationwide over Archbishop's loss".

    AVGHI: "New Democracy and PASOK ministers took money under the table from SIEMENS - Testimonies before German justice over the international scandal".

    AVRIANI: " Siemens gave money under the table to the parties considering their electoral power- Very soon henchmen will attempt to fall off balconies".

    CHORA: " Love each other and the Church - The Archbishop's spiritual will".

    ELEFTHEROS : "Government worried over the prospect of New Democracy MP Costas Koukodimos declaring himself an Independent deputy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Lord, I'm coming to You" - The final farewell, the change of times, the election of the new Archbishop".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "End of era - Christodoulos 1939/2008: The Archbishoop that united and divided".

    ESTIA: "Christodoulos of all Greeks - Deep grief over his loss".

    ETHNOS: "Public lament over Christodoulos- The fighter of the Orthodox church passed away with dignity".

    KATHIMERINI: "Eminent personalities' and peoples' praises for the late Archbishop - The battle for his succession opens".

    LOGOS: "Charismatic and beloved - Lament over Christodoulos' death".

    NIKI: " On the 7th of February the election of the New Archbishop - Two leading candidates and 3 outsiders - The contenders".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Rift with the employers' interests and policy".

    TA NEA: "Christodoulos faced his imminent end with dignity - Emotion and massive turnout of people at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral".

    TO VIMA: "The 7th of February will be a super Thursday: A critical day for the Church, politics, and the Zachopoulos DVD affair"

    VRADYNI: " The candle has gone out, but the light remains".

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