The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, died yesterday, aged 69. He had been suffering from cancer. The Archbishop was hailed as "an enlightened church leader" by Greece's Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Greek President Karolos Papoulias said the way he dealt with his last illness and imminent death sent "a unique message of courage and dignity." Archbishop Christodoulos was elected in 1998 to lead the Greek Orthodox Church. He met Pope John Paul II in 2001, marking a turning point in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. During a visit to the Vatican in 2006, Archbishop Christodoulos signed a joint declaration with Pope Benedict, pledging "fruitful collaboration," "dialogue in truth" and joint action to strengthen Christian values in Europe. Greece's Catholic bishops called his death "a great loss for the Greek Orthodox Church and for the ecumenical movement," and called Archbishop Christodoulos a "great pastor" and "ardent supporter of Christian unity."
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