Greece's Orthodox Church to elect new leader

Senior clergy will gather in Athens Thursday to elect the new leader of Greece's powerful Orthodox Church following the death last month of Archbishop Christodoulos. Four metropolitan bishops have declared interest in succeeding Christodoulos, who was credited with building historic ties with the Vatican and reinvigorating the Greek church during his 10-year leadership. Favorites to succeed are Bishop Efstathios of Sparta and Bishop Ieronymos of Thebes, both established senior figures of the church's vast administration. The succession is closely watched in Greece, where Orthodox Christianity is recognized as the "prevailing religion" in the constitution and represents some 97 percent of the country's native born population.