BARTHOLOMEW ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
His All Holiness, BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch is the 270th successor of the 2,000 year-old local Christian Church founded by St. Andrew. As a citizen of Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew’s personal experience provides him a unique perspective on the continuing dialogue among the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds. He works to advance reconciliation among Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox communities, such as in former Yugoslavia, and is supportive of peace building measures to diffuse global conflict in the region.
As Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, Patriarch Bartholomew occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church and presides in a fraternal spirit among all the Orthodox Primates. The Ecumenical Patriarch has the historical and theological responsibility to initiate and coordinate actions among the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, The Czech Land and Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, and numerous archdioceses in the old and new worlds. This includes the convening of councils or meetings, facilitating inter-church and inter-faith dialogues and serving as the primary expresser of Church unity as a whole. As Ecumenical Patriarch he transcends every national and ethnic group on a global level and today is the spiritual leader of approximately 250 million faithful world-wide.
The Greek Orthodox Church of America was founded as an Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Throne in 1922. As such, the Archdiocese of America is an eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is blessed to have as its Primate ad Patriarchal, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, who was elected Archbishop in 1999 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In his person, Patriarch Bartholomew represents the memory of the life and sacrifice of the martyred Orthodox Church of the 20th Century. After ascending the Ecumenical Throne in 1991, he journeyed throughout the Orthodox and non-Orthodox world bringing a message of restoration and renewed hope. He has presided over the restoration of the Autocephalous Church of Albania and Autonomous Church of Estonia, and as been a constant source of spiritual and moral support to those traditionally Orthodox countries emerging from decades of wide scale religious persecution behind the Iron Curtain. The Patriarch is a living witness to the world of Orthodoxy’s painful and redemptive struggle for religious freedom and to the innate dignity of humankind.
Patriarch Bartholomew strives earnestly to prepare the Orthodox Church for its continuing role as a mediator between East and West. In his capacity as Ecumenical Patriarch, he has three times convened the leaders of the self-governing Orthodox Churches around the globe, challenging them to vigorously pursue solutions to the challenges of the new millennium, for example, by categorically condemning nationalism and fanaticism. Together with His All Holiness Pope John Paul II, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has supported progress toward the reconciliation of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian Churches.
Patriarch Bartholomew’s roles as the primary spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian world and a transnational figure of global significance continue to become more vital each day. He co-sponsored the Peace and Tolerance Conference in Istanbul (1994) bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews. Most noted are his efforts in environmental awareness, which have earned him the title “Green Patriarch.” He has organized environmental seminars in co-sponsorship with His Royal Highness Prince Philip, and international environmental symposia on Patmos (1995) and around the Black Sea (1997). Since 1999 three other Religion, Science and the Environment International Symposia took place under the joint auspices of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Excellency Mr. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission: Symposium III, which sailed down the Damude River; Symposium IV: “The Adriatic Sea: A Sea at Risk, a Unity of Purpose” (June 2002) and Symposium V: “The Baltic Sea: A Common Heritage, A Shared Responsibility” (June 2003). These endeavours, together with his inspiring efforts on behalf of religious freedom and human rights, rank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew among the world’s foremost apostles of love, peace and reconciliation for humanity, a reason for which he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S. Congress.
BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE: HIS ALL HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW
Born: Dimitrios Arhondonis, February 29, 1940, Island of Imvros (Gokceada), Turkey.
Primary Education: Elementary and secondary education on Imvros and in Istanbul.
Formal Education: Theological School of Halki, graduated with highest honours (1961).
Ordinations: August 13, 1961, Holy Diaconate, receiving the ecclesiastical name Bartholomew
October 19, 1969, Holy Priesthood
Christmas 1973, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (Asia Minor)
January 14, 1990, Enthronement as Metropolitan of Chalcedon
October 22, 1991, Elected 270th Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
November 2, 1991, Enthronement in the Patriarchal Cathedral in the Phanar
Scholarships: 1963-1968 Awarded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for study at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome; the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland; and at the University of Munich, specializing in Canon Law.
Doctorates: The Pontifical Oriental Institute (Gregorian University). Thesis titled “The Codification of the Holy Canons and the Canonical Constitutions in the Orthodox Church.”
Honorary Doctorates: University of Athens School of Theology, Theological Academy of Moscow, University of Crete School of Philosophy, City University (London), Aegean University (Department of Environmental Studies), The Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Sergius (Paris), Aix-en-Provence University (Doctorate of Canon Law), the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh, the University of Louvain, Flinders University (Australia), University of Salonika (two branches of the School of Theology, Law, Philosophy and Forestry), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Boston), Georgetown University (Washington D.C.), Tufts University (Boston), Southern Methodist University (Dallas), Yale University (New Haven), St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Scarsdale, New York), St. Andrew’s College (Winnipeg, Canada), Universities of Bucharest and Iaşi (Romania), Sherbrooke University (Toronto), Adamson University (Manila, Philippines), Exeter University (Exeter, U.K.), University of Thessalia (Greece), University of Batum (Georgia). Many other academic institutions have announced the decisions of their faculties to honour Patriarch Bartholomew with an honorary doctorate.
Awards: The U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (1997), honorary medals from various Orthodox Churches, the highest decoration bestowed by the Presidents of Lebanon, Romania, Greece, Estonia, and Hungary. The Sophie Foundation Award (Oslo, June 2002). The Binding Foundation Award (Vaduz, December 2002).
Military Service: 1961-1963 Reserve officer in the Turkish Army.
Positions: Assistant Dean of the Theological School of Halki (1968); Director Private Patriarchal Office (1972); Member of the Holy and Sacred Synod (since 1974).
Languages: Greek, Turkish, Latin, French, English, Italian, and German.
Memberships: “Society of Canon Law of the Oriental Churches,” founding member and vice-president; “Faith and Order” Committee of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.), vice-president; Fellow of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, Greece; honorary member of the Pro-Oriente Foundation in Vienna; honorary citizen of numerous cities in various countries.
Conferences and Delegations: Fourth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.), (Uppsala 1968); Sixth ( Vancouver 1983); Seventh (Canberra 1991); member of Executive and Central Committees of the W.C.C.; Numerous inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian meetings; Official delegations to the Turkish Government, Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches, and Mt. Athos; Presided over the Preparatory Inter-Orthodox Committee for the Holy and Great Synod, which dealt with the subject of the Orthodox Diaspora (1990); International Summit on Religious and Conversation, Atami, Japan (Session I, 1995), and Windsor Castle, Great Britain (Session II, 1996); World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland, 1999); Inter-religious Prayer for Peace (Assisi 2002); Many interfaith and intercultural meetings in Turkey.
Major Events: Convened Primates of the Orthodox Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches at the Phanar, Sunday of Orthodoxy (1992); consecration of the Holy Chrism (1992); Peace and Tolerance Conference, Istanbul (1994) (The Bosphorus Declaration); convened Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne (Phanar, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998); Presided over the celebrations on the island of Patmos, Greece, on the 1900th anniversary since the recording of the Apocalypse of St. John; the II Assembly of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches; a Symposium at Sea on the issue of the Scientific Meeting on the sacred book of the Apocalypse (1995); Five International environmental seminars on the island of Heybeliada (Halki), “Environment and Religious Education” (1994), “Environment and Ethics” (1995), “Environment and Communication” (1996), “Environment and Justice” (1997), “Environment and Poverty” (1998); “Symposium II – The Black Sea in Crisis” (1997), seeking to discern appropriate action on preserving the Black Sea region; “ The Halki Ecological Institute” (1999) an interdisciplinary learning opportunity for scientists, clergy, journalists, educators and students; Symposium III – “A River of Life” (1999), highlighting the grave environmental problems facing Europe’s greatest waterway. This third floating Symposium travelled down the Danube from the river’s headwaters to the Delta and Black Sea. Scientific Conference, Istanbul, (2000); Clergy-Laity Conference, Istanbul (2000); Interfaith Meeting – “The Peace of God in the World” , Brussels (2001), convened and organized by him; the Religion, Science and Environment International Symposium IV: “The Adriatic Sea: A Sea at Risk, a Unity of Purpose” (June 2002) and Symposium V: “The Baltic Sea: A Common Heritage, A Shared Responsibility” (June 2003).
Official Visits: Their Excellencies Presidents Süleyman Demirel and Ahmet Necdet Sezer of Turkey; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace; Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands; His Majesty King Albert of Belgium; His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg ; His Royal Highness Prince Hans-Adam of Lichtenstein; Their Excellencies Jacques Delors and Jacques Santer, Presidents of the Commission of the European Community; President Richard von Weizacker and Chancellor Helmut Khol of Germany; Presidents Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu of Romania; President Zelo Zelev and Prime Minister Symeon of Bulgaria; Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdim of Russia; President Ezer Weizman and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel; PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat; President Kim Young-sam of Korea; President Jacques Chirac of France; President Kaspar Villiger of Switzerland; President William J. Clinton of the United States of America; First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; Vice President Al Gore and Mrs. Tipper Gore; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada; President Dr. Thomas Klestil of Austria; President Vaclev Havel of the Czech Republic; President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia; President Constantine Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Constantine Simitis of Greece; President Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland; President Rudolf Schuster of Slovakia; Former South African President F.W. De Klerk; The Jean Monnet Institute; The International Olympic Headquarters; U.N.E.S.C.O; The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey; The Republic of Armenia; His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain; His Excellency M. Khatami, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran; His Majesty King Harald V of Norway and His Excellency the Prime Minister of Norway Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik (June 2002) ; Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, the President of the Republic of Finland; His Excellency Moamar Kaddafi, Leader of the Sate of Libya; His Excellency Eduard George Shevardnadze, President of the republic of Georgia.
Official Church Visits: The Patriarchate of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Romania (multiple), Bulgaria, and Georgia; The Churches of Greece, Poland, Albania, Czech and Slovak Republics, Finland, Crete (twice); Mt. Athos; Monastery of St. Katherine on Mt. Siani (twice); His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Vatican City; Roman Catholic and Evangelical Churches of Germany; His Beatitude Patriarch Paulos and the Church of Ethiopia; His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey and the Anglican Communion; Lutheran Church of Sweden; 1000th Anniversary of Christianity in Norway; Orthodox communities and missions of Korea; His Eminence Bishop Hans Gerny and the Old-Catholic Church of Switzerland; World Council of Churches; Conference of European Churches; Lutheran World Federation; Alliance of Reformed Churches; Orthodox Centre at Chambesy; 1000th Anniversary of Holy Xenophontos Monastery on Mt. Athos; 500th Anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Community of Venice, Italy; Ancient Patriarchal See of Antioch; The Archdioceses of America (three times), Canada, Thyateira and Great Britain, Imvros and Tenedos, Sweden and Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, The Dodecanese, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Leros; The Church of Armenia.
Official Dignitaries and Visitors: His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Their Beatitudes Patriarchs Petros of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Aleksy of Russia, Pavle of Serbia, Teoctist of Romania, Maxim of Bulgaria and Elias of Georgia; Their Beatitudes Archbishops Cristodoulos of Athens and all Greece and Anastasios of Tirana and all Albania, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland; is Eminence Archbishop John of Karelia and all Finland; His Holiness Supreme Patriarch Karekin I of all Armenians; His Beatitude Patriarch Paulos of Ethiopia; His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey; Dr. Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the W.C.C; His Eminence Frank T. Griswold, Primate of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A; Presidents Dr. Thomas Klestil of Austria, Dr. Johannes Rau of Germany, Mr. Glafkos Clerides of Cyprus, Mr. Romano Prodi of the European Parliament, Dr. Emil Constantinescu of Romania, Mr. William J. Clinton of the United States, Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewskiof Poland; Prime Ministers Mr. Costas Simitis of Greece and Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway; U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Madeleine Albright; Mr. Sandy Berger; Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States; Assistant U.S. Secretaries of State Richard Holbrooke, John Shattuck, and Harold Koh; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr; His Excellency George Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece; Official delegations from the World Lutheran Federation, the Churches of Rome, Russia, Romania, Greece, and others; Their Majesties King Constantine, Queen Anna Maria and Queen Sophia of Spain; Their Royal Highness Princes Charles of Wales, Pavlos, Nicholas, Michael and Phillipos, Princesses Irene, Marie-Chantel, Alexia, Theodora and Maria Olympia; Their Eminences Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy as President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Bernard Francis Cardinal Law of Boston, William Henry Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini of Milan, Silvano Cardinal Piovanelli of Florence, Miroslav Cardinal Vlk of Prague, Marco Cardinal Ce of Venice, Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State and Walter Cardinal Kasper of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity (Vatican). His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church; His Excellency Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Culture of Greece (May 2002).
Messages: Annual encyclical on the environment each September 1st, designated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and by the entire Orthodox Church as a day of prayer for the protection of creation (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002); The European Parliament at its plenary session on April 19, 1994; VI. General Assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) in Riva del Garda, Italy (1994); U.N.E.S.C.O. General Assembly (1995); Turkish-Greek Business Council and the Young Businessmen’s Association (1997); The United States Congress upon being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (1997); The Santa Barbara Environmental Conference “Caring for God’s Creation” (1997); Interfaith Dialogue Assembly (1998); Forum 2000 gathering in Prague (1999);Address on Prayer for Peace in Novi Sad (1999); The Greek and the polish Parliaments (1999 and 2000, respectively); “Sacred Gifts to a Living Planet” Kathmandu, Nepal, (2000); The United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa (2001); Official Visit to Iran “The Contribution of Religion to the Establishment of Peace in the Contemporary World” (2002), “Witness to Peace” (Assisi 2002), and many others.