Ups and downs with the media

In his early days as archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Christodoulos rivaled then Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos in popularity, The archbishop was at ease with the media, and his every utterance made news. Cameras and journalists followed him everywhere. When critics accused him of actually inviting the cameras, the archbishop denied it, saying that it was the journalists that «begged him.» Christodoulos proved adept at playing the media. A tear, a certain intonation in his voice, a fiery speech – all made headlines. Even Time magazine wrote about the archbishop «thundering from a populist pulpit.» After being elected, Christodoulos gave interviews to all the major media organizations. He then embarked on a series of visits to associations, foundations and schools. Eventually, it was his jokes that attracted attention and he complained that the media only reported his jokes when he visited schools. Under Christodoulos, the Archbishopric and the Holy Synod acquired a large press staff, well-known journalists worked on Synod committees, the Church’s radio station was reorganized, a website was set up, new publications were issued and connections with publishers were strengthened. In 2005, Christodoulos found the majority of the media against him. Scandals within the Church and revelations of a trial-fixing ring – in which some members of the clergy were implicated – tainted his public image. On the advice of close colleagues, he banned TV cameras from churches.