Greece Hundreds of mourners, many sobbing, gathered Monday at Athens' cathedral to file past the remains of Archbishop Christodoulos, the first leader of Greece's powerful Orthodox Church to welcome a Catholic pope to Athens in 1,300 years.
The charismatic cleric was often named Greece's most popular public figure but was also criticized as an ambitious reactionary. He died at his home in Athens on Monday at age 69 of cancer, leaving the race for his succession wide open.
Christodoulos has been credited with reinvigorating a church seen as distant from its followers in a country where more than 90 percent of the native-born population is baptized into it.
Greece's Orthodox Church holds considerable sway among the world's Orthodox churches. Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians.
Arguably the greatest achievement of Christodoulos was helping improve ties with the Vatican.
"The doors of communication with the Catholic Church had rusted over and they were again opened by Archbishop Christodoulos," said theologian Giorgos Moustakis. "This was a very difficult thing, and it was opposed by powerful fringe religious groups."