(ANA-MPA)--The funeral of the late Archbishop Christodoulos will be held on Thursday at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, with full honours of Head of State, followed by the burial ceremony at Athens' First Cemetery. A four-day period of national mourning has been declared, with flags flying at half-mast on all public buildings, while on Thursday all public services and schools will remain closed.
The late Archbishop's body will lie in state for three days, with the Cathedral remaining open throughout the day and night to enable the people to pay their last respects. Flags on all public buildings will be flying at half-mast.
The Greek people were in mourning over the loss of their beloved and charismatic Archbishop, flocking to the Athens Cathedral to pay their last respects. Prime minister Costas Karamanlis, accompanied by his wife Natassa, were among the first to pay tribute to the late Archbishop on Monday, shortly after Christodoulos' coffin, draped in the Greek flag, arrived at the Cathedral.
A Book of Condolences has also been opened in the Chapel in the Cathedral's courtyard, while condolences were pouring in from all over the world.
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has requested those wanting to send a wreath to instead make a donation to a charitable cause or foundation.
Condolences pour in for late Archbishop Christodoulos
The Ecumenical Patriarchate expressed its deep sorrow for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, stressing that his life was dedicated to the Church and efforts to bring the faithful closer to Christian teachings.
"His brave stance during the course of his illness has set an example," a statement from the Ecumenical Patriarchate read, concluding that with Godís help his successor will be a competent ecclesiastical leader.
Condolences were sent by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who underlined Christodoulosí contribution to interfaith dialogue in Europe.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Monday extended its condolences for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, stressing that he was a leading ecclesiastical figure of the Church of Greece and the bearer of great expectations and hopes of the faithful.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed deep sorrow and underlined the exemplary patience displayed by Archbishop Christodoulos during his illness. The statement also referred to the assistance and support offered by the Archbishop to the Patriarchate, expressing the wish that the successor to the Archbishop's Throne will be equal to his duties.
Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, in a letter of condolences addressed to the Greek Churchís Holy Synod, underlined the self-sacrifice, prudence, dedication and love displayed by Christodoulos during the past 10 years at the helm of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
From Cyprus, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus announced that Archbishop Chyssostomos will attend Christodoulosí funeral in Athens, with the former also expressing his grief and condolences.
"The blessed Archbishop will live forever in the hearts of all the Greeks of Cyprus," Chyssostomos said.
Patriarch Alexius II of Moscow and All Russia expressed his sincerest condolences over the loss, speaking for himself and the Russian Church. The Russian Patriarchís message was addressed to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and the acting head of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan of Karysteia (southern Evia) and Skyros Serafeim.
Alexius referred to the passing of Christodoulos as a "great loss that struck the Holy Greek Church, the blessed people of Greece and the entire Orthodox world," while he called the late Archbishop a "passionate speaker, patriot and enviable worker in Christís meadow; a close friend of the Russian Orthodox Church.That is how he will remain in our memory and our hearts," the Russian Patriarch said.
Patriarch Daniel of Romania expressed his and the Romanian Orthodox Churchís condolences towards the "brotherly Greek Orthodox Church."
Daniel will also lead a Romanian Church delegation that will be present in Athens for the funeral.
Archbishop Demetrius of America departs from New York on Tuesday, as member of the delegation headed by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, to attend the funeral of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The Archbishop of America stated that "the Church loses an excellent and valuable prelate."
Informed of Christodoulosí death, Demetrius said, "we are deeply grieved by the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos because with his departure from this world, the Church loses an excellent and valuable prelate and a brilliant fighter in support of Orthodoxy and the world values of Greek cultural tradition. I had the particular honour to know him already from the period of his secondary school studies and afterwards to appreciate his dynamism, his kindness, his intelligence and his great contribution to the Church in basic sectors, such as liturgy, social care and inter-Christian relations."
News of Christodoulosí passing also touched the ethnic Greek communities of Australia.
Archbishop of Australia Stylianos, who in the past had criticised Christodoulosí rift with the Patriarchate, informed the clergy and Orthodox communities in Australia over the loss, calling for a minute of silence in respect to the Greek Churchís leader.
Stylianos also announced that there will be held a memorial service for the late Archbishop at the main Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Sydney.
The Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Crete expressed its condolences and announced that Archbishop Irineos will accompany the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the funereal procession.
From FYROM, the Holy Synod of the so-called "Macedonian Orthodox Church," in a letter on Monday to the Church of Greece expressed its "deepest sorrow over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos."
"Archbishop Christodoulos over the past decade as prelate of the Church of Greece was charismatic and dedicated himself to the faithful. With his death, the Church of Greece and the whole of the Orthodox world lost an important personality," the letter said.
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis expressed the organisationís sincere feelings of grief and sorrow for the death of the Archbishop.
Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos expressed deep grief on Monday over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, as well as his deep gratitude for the deceased's struggles for Cyprus.
In a written message released in Nicosia, Papadopoulos said that, on behalf of the government and the people of Cyprus, "I express deepest grief over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, who was an important figure of our Orthodox Church, a fervent defender of the just causes of Cyprus, and a radiant personality of modern Hellenism".
"I shall always keep alive the memory of our meetings, and the lasting emotion caused by his words and his passion for Cyprus and the vindication of its struggle. He honored me with his genuine friendship, and I pay tribute to him in expressing gratitude for all he said and did for Cyprus," Papadopoulos said.
U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. first lady Laura Bush expressed on Monday their condolences to the Church of Greece on the passing away of Archbishop Christodoulos.
"Laura and I personally express our condolences to the Greek people in this mournful day," a president's announcement said.
"The Archbishop was known as the representative of the Orthodox faith in the dialogue between Churches and for his work regarding the promotion of social programmes in support of the weaker," the announcement added.
The US embassy in Athens and the consulate general in Thessaloniki on Monday issued a press release expressing sincere condolences, on behalf of the American people, for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos.
President, government, political parties, parliament
In a message, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias paid tribute to the late Archbishop as an "outstanding Hierarch with a rich and multi-faceted contribution, who, with his inexhaustible energy, struggled for a vibrant and fighting Church".
Papoulias said that the Archbishop "touched us deeply with his attitude on his illness and death, sending a unique message of courage and dignity".
Prime minister Costas Karamanlis expressed grief over the passing away of the Archbishop, "the enlightened Hierarch who, with his pastoral work, brought the Church closer to society and the modern-day problems, closer to the youth and their anxieties...The religious leader who strengthened the role of Orthodoxy in the world".
Karamanlis said that the late Archbishop's "candour, simplicity, tenacity and love for Greece constitute invaluable lessons for our Churchís faithful", and "the courage and fortutude he displayed throughout the difficult hours of his personal battle touch the hearts of all of us".
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed his deepest grief, paying tribute to the late Archbishop as "one of the most important figures of the Church of Greece, a spiritual leader with prestige, religious conviction, and rich social action.
"A fighter and a scholar, he left his own mark on the Church he served with devotion, deep passion and diligence," Papandreou said, adding that he was a charimatic man with whom one enjoyed discussing, even when they disagreed.
Papandreou said that even the ordeal with his health did not break him but, instead, he remained standing to the end, sending a powerful message of courage, bravery and dignity.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga sent a telegram of condolences to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, expressing her party's condolences over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary grouping also sent a message of condolences to the Holy Synod, saying that the death of the Archbishop, as that of every eminent personality, "reminds us of our common fate, regardless of religion, philosophical perceptions, political views".
It said that Christodoulos' courage and fortitude was a positive message for everyone, and addressed its genuine condolences to the Holy Synod and to all the faithful.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said that the late Archbishop has left behind him the legacy of his fighting spirit, gentle temperament and Jobean patience.
Karatzaferis expressed grief over the passing away of the Teacher, Shepherd, Confessor, Instructor, Spiritual Leader and Guide, who forgave even the most provocative of his slanderers, and left leaving behind unfinished dreams and visions, not at a ripe old age, but with full respect and appreciation.
Former Greek president Costis Stephanopoulos referred to peopleís widespread support for Christodoulos during his long and painful illness.
Parliament on Monday observed one minute of silence in tribute of late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The parliament president, the education and religious affairs minister and the parliamentary representatives of all the political parties hailed Christodoulosí great personality and his great contribution to the nation.
"Parliament mourns along with the Church of Greece the loss of a great man, a great prelate and a great Greek. A charismatic and enlightened prelate who served with faith the Church, with dedication Greece, with warmth the nation and with love people," Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas said.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, on behalf of the government said that "Archbishop Christodoulos was the incarnation of the eminent ecclesiastical man who combined the uncompromising act with dynamism but also education and culture."
New Democracy (ND) party parliamentary spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos spoke of "a great void which Archbishop Christodoulos leaves behind him."
Main opposition PASOK representative Christos Papoutsis described Archbishop Christodoulos as "a prelate with high education and patriotic conscience."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) parliamentary spokesman Spyros Halvatzis referred to Christodoulosí "courage," noting that "he was the first Archbishop who passed through the entrance of the KKEís offices, overcoming the stereotypes which existed."
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Athanasios Leventis referred to "the strong personality of Archbishop Christodoulos" and said that he was "stoic and brave."
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) parliamentary spokesman Costas Aivaliotis underlined that "he brought the youth to the church, the people loved him. He was our Christodoulos and we tell him that we loved him very much and we shall miss him."
Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, in Brussels for a meeting of the EU council of ministers-General Affairs, expressed her deepest grief over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, adding that the Church of Greece and all of Orthodoxy mourned for an undisputed Church leader and personality and a charismatic Hierarch who served the Church and his flock with devotion.
A generous, approachable and straightforward person, Christodoulos gave new breath to the Church of Greece, and during his tenure as Archbishop, me managed to bring the Church closer to society and the contemporary problems, and closer to the youth, while his work for the relife of those in geater need comprises an example of creative and effective action by a modern-day Church, Bakoyannis said in her statement.
She said the late Archbishop's courage, tranquility and dignity with which he faced his final and most difficult fight of his live, have touched the hearts of the Greeks and the Orthodox throughout the world, comprising for all a message of genuine Christian ethos and courage.
Health and social solidarity minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the Archbishop had been an enlightened Hierarch, a social visionary, a Church leader, and a true patriot, with exceptional abilities and rare talents, who left an indelible mark on the history of the Church, Orthodoxy, and the memories and hearts of the Greek people.
In tribute to the memory of the Archbishop and his work, the new International Transplants Centre being established in Athens and Thessaloniki will bear his name.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Evripides Stylianidis expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. Stylianidis described the late Archbishop as a supreme example of a spiritual leader.
"All Greeks throughout the world mourn the loss of the late Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Christodoulos," Minister of State government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.