Bishops in debate about succession

Bishops who attended the meeting of the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday began discussing the possibility of electing a successor to Archbishop Christodoulos, as doctors debated whether he had received the most suitable treatment for his liver cancer. The bishop of Zakynthos, Chrysostomos, was the first member of the Holy Synod to publicly suggest that the Church of Greece needs to begin discussion of who will replace the archbishop. «It is absolutely natural for the discussion about a successor to begin since the archbishop is suffering from an incurable disease,» said Chrysostomos. Archbishop Christodoulos’s liver transplant in the USA was aborted on Monday after it was found that his cancer has spread to his stomach. The 68-year-old archbishop will now undergo a different treatment. «We will wait for the developments, which have been rapid,» said Chrysostomos. «When you have a situation like this, you cannot wait until the last minute to prepare.» Some bishops objected to this discussion. The bishop of Lemnos, Ierotheos, described the talk as being «unseemly, untimely and unethical.» Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, also issued a statement saying that it was «not right» to discuss the archbishop’s successor while he is still alive. There were also arguments between doctors on TV shows yesterday about whether the decision to line the archbishop up for a liver transplant rather than have him undergo some form of chemotherapy was the correct one. The Athens Medical Association (ISA) urged its members to «exercise restraint» and follow the medical code of ethics when making statements about the archbishop. «Everyone is free to present their views at scientific conferences or forums, not on television,» said ISA President Sotiris Rigakis. The Association of Hospital Doctors of Athens and Piraeus (EINAP) issued a statement saying that this type of behavior from doctors risked shaking people’s confidence in the medical profession.

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