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Archbishop Iakovos hailed for openness Thousands pack funeral in N.Y.

NEW YORK -- Archbishop Iakovos, who for nearly four decades led the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America with a spiritual force akin to that of Pope John Paul II among Roman Catholics, was celebrated at his funeral yesterday as a man who ''walked the walk, talked the talk."

Thousands of faithful packed the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on Manhattan's Upper East Side for the service led by Archbishop Demetrios, current head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The body of the 93-year-old Turkish-born Iakovos, wearing gold and white vestments in an open wooden coffin, was flanked by four Greek presidential honor guards in ceremonial soldiers' uniforms with tasseled red caps.

The archbishop lay before the altar for two hours of prayers chanted and spoken in Greek and English by clergy including Archbishop Christodoulou of Athens and Archbishop Gregory of Great Britain.

Calling Iakovos ''an immigrant in a city of immigrants," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told mourners that for more than 60 years since he arrived in the United States, Iakovos challenged the congregation to live up to the best of themselves. ''He truly walked the walk, talked the talk," Bloomberg said.

Also at the service were three former New York mayors -- Ed Koch, David Dinkins, and Rudolph Giuliani.

Iakovos, who was ordained a priest in Lowell, Mass., started a youth movement in the United States and created the Ionian Village in Greece, a summer camp that has been visited by more than 16,000 Greek-American children.

The archbishop was instrumental in establishing dialogues between Orthodox churches and Anglicans, Lutherans, Southern Baptists, and other denominations. He met every US president from Eisenhower through Clinton, and was one of the US Christian leaders who met with Pope John Paul II in a historic gathering in South Carolina in 1987.

Some compare Iakovos' role as a Christian Orthodox leader to the papacy of John Paul II.

''He was a man of the people, he loved being with youth, he was an ecumenical leader, starting dialogues with everyone," Nikki Stephanopoulos, spokeswoman for the US Greek Orthodox archdiocese, said after the service. ''He opened new doors."

Iakovos, who died Sunday from a pulmonary ailment, was scheduled to be buried this morning on the grounds of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.

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