Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday pledged to avoid interfering in politics, distancing himself from his predecessor Christodoulos, during his first service at Athens Cathedral. The 70-year-old moderate reformist, who was officially enthroned as archbishop on Saturday, also praised Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, who had frequently clashed with Christodoulos. Vartholomaios is «a man deeply rooted in tradition but who also understands the issues of our times,» Ieronymos said, calling for all Orthodox churches to rally around the Istanbul-based patriarchate. Reacting to the archbishop's speech, Vartholomaios said he was «extremely moved» due to the occasional «misinterpretation» of his role. But the new archbishop did promise to continue his predecessor's efforts to open up the Church to young people, saying he would set up a youth council to advise him. Ieronymos also pledged to cooperate with the state on fighting poverty, supporting disabled citizens and boosting the social integration of immigrants.