Christodoulos, Archibishop of Athens and All Greece, 1939-

His Beatitude, Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece is the off-spring of a refugee family from Adrianople in Eastern Thrace. His parents' family, after the mandatory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1924, settled in Xanthé, where His Beatitude, Archbishop Christodoulos was born in 1939. His father, Constantinos Paraskevaides, was a merchant and one of the leading citizens of the city. He participated in all the national movements. He served as Mayor of Xanthé during the tragic period between 1946 - 1950, when Greece was torn by civil strife. In 1941, after the declaration of War by German against Greece, he brought his family to Athens, where he felt they would be safer. In Athens, Mr Christodoulos received his education and lived until his 35th year of age. He received his general education and the Leonteion Lyceum where he studied for six years, and then went on to study at the Law School of the University of Athens (1956-1961) and at the Theological School of the University of Athens (1962-1967) graduating magna cum laude. At the same time he studied Byzantine Music at the Odeon of Athens where he achieved highest honors, while from 1961 he began contributing articles at first to religious publications, and later up to the present, to the Athenian and Provincial daily press. He has published at total of 189 studies covering religious, legal, bio-ethical, social and other subjects. His Beatitude, Archbishop Christodoulos, from early childhood had a strong vocation for the priesthood, which was cultivated in him by persons of spiritual stature, such as the present Metropolitan of Piraeus, Mr. Callinicos. Thus in 1961, though he studied only Law, he was ordained Deacon, having previously been tonsured a monk at the Sacred Monastery of Barlaam in Meteora, where he settled with a small group of young monks who were inspired by a dream for a social and missionary monasticism. He devoted himself to preaching, catechetical instruction and teaching of the faith. In 1965 he was ordained Presbyter, and assigned as Pastor and Preacher to the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Old Phaleron, where he developed an impressive ministry, distinguishing himself as a competent preacher, an excellent liturgist and guide of the youth. At he same time he was engaged, after competition, as Secretary of the Holy Synod in 1968, where he proved his organizational and administrative abilities. He retained this position until 1974 when he was elected at he age of 35 and in the midst of national vicissitudes and problems, upon the proposal of the then new Archbishop of Athens, Seraphim, Metropolitan of Demetrias.

As Metropolitan of Demetrias, His Beatitude, Archbishop Christodoulos, despite his relatively young age, showed impressive maturity. From the very outset he gave himself over to organizing internally the Metropolitanate; he encouraged young clerics to continue their studies and attracted large numbers of talented, and qualified young men to the priesthood. During the 24 years of his tenure as Bishop he ordained approximately 150 new clergymen and renewed the cadres of the Metropolitanate, placing the most suitable persons in the proper places. Characteristic was his renewal of the inner structures of the Church with a view towards making them contemporary. Toward this end, he began by creating new cadres, clerical and lay, whose formation he continuously renewed so as to be able to deal with current problems from both a spiritual and human standpoint. He exhorted his coworkers to continue their studies. Thus while in 1974 there were only twelve clerics in the Diocese of Demetrias with an university-level theological education, today there are eighty.

He endowed the Metropolitanate with projects of social dynamism as the Center for Family Assistance, Schools for Parents, Counseling Center for Teenage Problems, the Radio Station "Orthodox Witness" with 150 volunteers and the Newspaper "Information". He distinguished himself as a speaker not only on religious, but also on social and ethnic subjects. He was invited to speak in many cites throughout Greece before large audiences. At the same time he also distinguished himself by his participation in TV discussions, where he presented and defended the position and rights of the Church. His articles printed in newspapers also contributed to this purpose.

He was dynamic in his struggles, utilizing always, all logical arguments to convince his opponents. All remember, to this very day, his appearance on National Television. His contribution to the Church's struggles for the recognition of the civil marriage as of equal force with that of the Church marriage, to the struggle against the so-called "automatic divorce" was indeed significant. Always "open" to all, he established regular annual meetings with groups of scholars and scientists in Volos, as for example, with those in the field of law, with doctors, educators, students, to whom he addressed matters of interest in their fields from an ecclesiastical point of view. At the same time he embraced all of the people of Magnesia whom he completely devoted himself, he descended to their level without, however, becoming secular, thus presenting an image of Church firmly resting upon the love of its people. He systematically worked for the continuous spiritual cultivation and formation of the people, regularly preaching on a day basis, celebrating the Divine Services with compunction, and offering both love and instruction. Renowned is his dialogues with Lyceum students, his correspondence with them and authoring of popular pamphlets freely distributed to all, on contemporary and interesting themes. A man of worship and liturgy par excellence, and faithful to Tradition, he established Order in the conducting of the Divine Services, he instituted regular opportunities for worship for young people, he engaged in dialogue with opponents, he made Divine Worship the center of his life and organized a department in the Diocese for confronting the activities of heretical groups. The Diocese's publications, of which he is the author, are significant for their originality, practicality, and edification. He has the ability to combine tradition with progress, dogma with dialogue, sanctity with simplicity.

A "workaholic" to the "nth" degree, he respects those who work and instills his co-workers with this spirit. He works in his office late into the night, planning, drawing up guidelines, solving problems, penning books, etc. He has also gathered about him people who formerly had no relationship with the Church, especially youth, through his notable activities in combating the use of narcotics, dealing with A.I.D.S. and confronting unemployment. Trough his efforts the Metropolitanate of Demetrias became o pioneer in these fields of endeavor and created the presuppositions for other dioceses to develop similar activities. His positions on matters of bioethic medicine are original, ahead of their time, and manifested a new physiognomy of the Church. The Holy Synod appointed him as its representative on the National Board for Transplants and to the Center for Control of Special Infectious Diseases. Fifteen years ago he established in the area of Volos the Union of Christian Scientists, the Christian Social Union, the "Homes of the Tranquility of Christ" for the aged, the Department of Christian Solidarity for the poor. He helped very many young people with their studies by granting them scholarships from the Metropolitanate; he sent many sick people abroad to be treated and operated upon; the people readily opened up to him their problems. Many witnessed his intervention with directors of banks asking that they desist from auctioning off the property of poor debtors who could not meet their payments in time. Others saw him telephoning to friends, who were businessmen, asking them for a job for an unemployed youth and using his friendships and acquaintances to defend the interests of the City of Volos.

He cultivated close ties the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The visit of the ever-memorable Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios to Volos in 1990 was a unique event in the history of Magnesia. Through repeated visits to all the Orthodox Churches, either as a member of ecclesiastical delegations or in a private capacity, he cultivated personal contacts with members of the sister Orthodox Churches which he cultivates in depth. He is tide by bonds of friendship to all the Heads of the Orthodox Churches and to leaders of non-Orthodox Churches