Bishop resigns, boss stays

After several weeks of scandal, the crisis in the Church of Greece claimed its first victim yesterday as the Bishop of Thessaliotis tendered his resignation but Archbishop Christodoulos maintained he would not stand down, despite some calls for him to do so. «Every idea imaginable has passed through my mind and I have studied and weighed everything up. Of course I thought about resigning but I finally rejected the idea. I am determined to lead the effort to clean up the Church,» said Christodoulos in an interview shown on private television channel, Alpha, last night. The head of the Church came under pressure to quit from Chrysostomos, Bishop of Zakynthos, following claims linking him closely with fugitive drug smuggler Apostolos Vavilis and Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, the priest alleged to be at the center of a trial-fixing ring. Yesterday, Christodoulos again denied sending Vavilis and a retired policeman to oversee the election of Patriarch Irenaios four years ago in Jerusalem. «We did not send them to Jerusalem. That is the truth,» said the archbishop, who admitted seeing Vavilis dressed as a security guard at the Patriarchate. Christodoulos said he did not talk to him at the time and could not recall meeting him again since. He also said that he had turned down requests from other clergymen for Yiossakis to be promoted. «I do not want to expose anyone but I was approached many times and always rejected the idea,» said the archbishop. Meanwhile Theoklitos, Bishop of Thessaliotis, who was under investigation by the Holy Synod over allegations he was involved in drug dealing, resigned yesterday. Sources indicate that the bishop had come under intense pressure from the archbishop’s aides in recent days to stand down. It is thought that Panteleimon, Bishop of Attica, who has been suspended for six months pending an investigation into claims he tried to influence judges, and Stefanos, Bishop of Trifyllia, who has been linked to a sex scandal, are also under pressure to resign. Christodoulos found an ally in Amvrosios, Bishop of Kalavryta, who had been critical of the archbishop until yesterday. «There is an invisible finger targeting not the archbishop but our national safety,» said Amvrosios, alleging the involvement of Israeli secret service Mossad in a process to destabilize the Church and influence the Jerusalem Patriarchate, a considerable property owner in the city.

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