From correspondents in Athens
February 07, 2008 10:23pm
GREEK Orthodox bishops today elected a 70-year-old moderate cleric from central Greece to succeed the controversial but hugely popular Archbishop Christodoulos, who died on January 28.
Bishop Ieronimos of Thebes, who had been a runner-up to Christodoulos in the last Church of Greece election in 1998, was elected after a second round of voting at Athens' cathedral, state television reported.
Unlike his predecessor, Ieronimos is known to have good relations with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual head of Orthodox believers worldwide.
The Church of Greece, which is constitutionally not separated from the state, has extensive influence in Greek society and even politics in a country where around 90 per cent of the population are baptised into the Orthodox faith.
Ieronimos' principal rival in the vote was 68-year-old bishop Efstathios of Sparta, a traditionalist in line with the last archbishop's views in favour of maintaining a strong Church influence in Greek society.
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