Early on the morning of January 28, 2008, His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, fell asleep in the Lord after a seven-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years of age.
Archbishop Christodoulos was born in north-eastern Greece in 1938. The author of numerous books, he held degrees in Theology, Law, French and English. He also spoke Italian and German.
In 1961 he was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood in 1965. In 1974, he was elected Metropolitan of Demetrias. In 1998, when he was elected Archbishop of Athens at age 58, he became the youngest hierarch ever to be Primate of the Church of Greece.
As Archbishop of the Greek Church, His Beatitude showed himself to be a leader who was not reluctant to address difficult issues. He stressed the importance of the Church’s pastoral and social ministries, establishing Church-based ministry groups to reach out to underprivileged people in various circumstances, among them abused women, single mothers, the homeless, and those suffering from addictions.
Archbishop Christodoulos was an outspoken defender of the Orthodox identity of the Greek nation. He often criticized secular leaders and educators in the country who sought to keep the Church at arm’s length from state affairs.
In the summer of 2007, Archbishop Christodoulos was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. After successful treatment of the colon cancer, he traveled to the US in for a liver transplant. In October 2007, he returned to Greece after his surgery was cancelled due to the advanced stages of his cancer.
In his last days, His Beatitude declined to be hospitalized, choosing instead to die at home.
Funeral services for His Beatitude, Archbishop Christodoulos will be held Thursday, January 31, 2008. Until that time, his body will lie in state at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Athens.
May Archbishop Christodoulos’ memory be eternal!