April 26, 2000

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - The spiritual leader of the world's OrthodoxChristians is urging his flock to face the fear of death with faith.

In a message to be read during Orthodox Easter this Sunday, EcumenicalPatriarch Bartholomew I says that ``modern man, being unable by his ownpower to face the inevitable reality of death, has repressed this factinto the depths of his subconscious.''

``We, as faithful Christians, face the fear of death, not by refusing tothink about or deal with it, but rather through our faith in theresurrection of Christ, which entails also the expectation of ourresurrection,'' the patriarch wrote. A text was posted on the internet. (Read the text.)

The text will be read during Easter liturgy at the patriarchate inIstanbul, and in diocese across the world, on Sunday.

Easter, the anniversary of the death and the resurrection of Jesus, isobserved on Sunday by Orthodox, a community of 300 million. RomanCatholics and Protestants celebrated Easter a week earlier.

The patriarchate in Istanbul dates from the 1,100-year-old OrthodoxGreek Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Ottoman Turks conqueredConstantinople, today's Istanbul, in 1453.