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【覚え書】Greek Orthodox Leader Dies at 69

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NYTに訃報ですが、興味深い記事があったので、覚え書風に以下の通り紹介。

Greek Orthodox Leader Dies at 69
By ANTHEE CARASSAVA
New York Times,January 29, 2008.

ATHENS — Archbishop Christodoulos, the charismatic leader of the Greek Orthodox Church who worked to heal centuries-old grievances with the Roman Catholic Church but stirred controversy with his politically tinged statements and tireless interventions in state affairs, died on Monday at his home in the Athens suburb Psychiko. He was 69.

His death followed a seven-month battle with cancer, church officials said. By Sunday, they said, he was slipping in and out of consciousness amid hepatic failure.

Enthroned in 1998, he led Greece’s 10 million Orthodox Christians for a decade, raising church attendance, preaching reform in a stuffily old-fashioned church and becoming one of the most popular, albeit divisive, figures in the country’s recent history.

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said in a statement: “The archbishop brought the church closer to society, closer to modern problems and to the youth.” The government declared three days of official mourning.

The son of a local mayor, Archbishop Christodoulos first trained as a lawyer but switched to the priesthood in 1961. He was a polyglot who surfed the Internet, instituted sign-language liturgies for the deaf and made plans for a religious television station.

He buoyed the faith’s dwindling numbers with the aura of a rock star. He enlivened sermons with humorous one-liners and animated antics. He cheerfully allowed teenagers to wear miniskirts and body-piercing jewelry to religious services. He embraced AIDS patients.

In his most momentous step as the church’s leader, he mended rifts with the Vatican, receiving Pope John Paul II in Athens in 2001, on the first visit to Greece by a pontiff in nearly 1,300 years. The divide between Rome-based and Eastern European Christianity dates from 1054, but it deepened in the 20th century.

The archbishop, who was schooled by Catholic monks in Athens, made a historic visit to the Vatican last year, meeting Pope Benedict XVI, despite widespread opposition to his visit from conservative adherents of the Orthodox faith.

Senior prelates will have 20 days to elect a new church leader in an election process shrouded in secrecy.

More than 90 percent of Greece’s 10.2 million people are baptized into the church, and at least 5 million more adherents live abroad.

Championing a more liberal image for an institution often considered a bastion of conservativism, Archbishop Christodoulos enjoyed a popularity rating of nearly 75 percent — far higher than any Greek politician.

Even so, he remained a controversial figure.

To his critics, he was the definitive conservative — a nationalist who ruled the church with an iron grip and meddled in public affairs with the intent of becoming a national political leader.

His blasts of nationalist rhetoric, most strikingly against the European Union and the Turks — he called them “eastern barbarians” — irritated Greece’s partners in the European Union and hindered the country’s efforts to improve relations with Ankara.

A vocal critic of NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign against the Serbs in Kosovo, Archbishop Christodoulos and the Greek Orthodox Church provided funds and relief aid to Orthodox Serbia.

He denounced some aspects of popular culture, leading protests against the Greek version of the television program “Big Brother,” and in 2001 he caused shock waves when he said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York were waged by “despondent men who acted out of despair caused by the injustices of the Great Powers.”

Five years later he retracted the remark but continued to rail against his favorite targets: globalization, the European Union and other institutions that he feared would strip Greece of its Orthodox Christian character and see Hellenism “sucked into the European melting pot.”

To his critics, such populism would have mattered less if Orthodoxy were not the established religion in Greece. But in 2001, Archbishop Christodoulos set the country’s most powerful institution on a collision course with the government, rallying millions of the faithful against plans by the Socialists, then in power, to remove religious affiliation from state identity cards.

The crusade, as he called it, failed to avert the plan, but the showdown precipitated a political crisis, contributing to the Socialists’ electoral downfall in 2004.

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著者:高橋 保行
販売元:講談社
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