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January 30, 2008

Greece comes to a respectful standstill

Much of Greece seems to have been at a standstill this week. And not because everyone is gathered around their computer screens gawping at the bits of the Zahopoulos sex DVD which have been amusingly posteded onto YouTube.

Nor is it the weather that has been the main problem, although it has been atrocious. There has been snow on the mainland, causing traffic chaos, and Crete has been partially isolated, with flights in and out of Chania and Heraklion cancelled, and ferry sailing affected.

The main cause of the standstill though has been national grief. After a long battle with illness, Archbishop Christodoulos  succumbed and passed away this week. He had lead the Greek Orthodox Church for nearly a decade.

A fiercely outspoken critic of globalisation, American intervention in the Balkans and the Middle East, and of anyone he didn't perceive to be a friend of the Greek Church, he will also be remembered here for his attempts at reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

In 2001 Pope John Paul II became the first leader of the Western half of Christianity to visit Greek soil since the Great Schism of 1054, and Archbishop Christodoulos visited the Vatican in 2006.

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