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New Archbishop of Athens

28/02/2008: Greece

Metropolitan Ieronymos of Tebas and Levadeia was elected Archbishop of Athens and Primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece, during a two-ballot process among the Orthodox metropolitan bishops. The seventy year old new Primate was one of the candidates also ten years ago, at the election of Christodulos, who died of cancer in Athens and whom he now succeeds. Though Ieronymos did have some disagreements with Christodulos concerning the relationship between Church and State, he did support him in the last years in his new opening to the Catholic Church.

The coming of Ieronymos to the See of Athens is also a step forward in the relations with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) and Patriarch Bartholomew, who is considered the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church around the world. In spite of this traditional primacy, during his pontificate, Christodulos aimed rather at supporting the Russian Patriarchate, the most important Orthodox Church in terms of number of believers, but with a marked tendency at collaborating with the political power. It may be that for this reason, shortly after the news of the election was made public, the Patriarchate of Constantinople issued a release to express “its satisfaction and joy” for the election of Ieronymos.

The new Patriarch was born in 1938 in Boeotia, in the centre of Greece. He graduated in Literature and Pedagogy, and after specialising in Archaeology in Greece and Germany he taught at the Marist High School of Nea Smyrni. In January 2007 he presided over the celebration for the hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the Marist brothers in Greece.

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