The 4th Archon
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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Archbishop of Constantinople, New-Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Born Demetrios Arhondonis in 1940 on the island of Imvros (today, Gökçeada, Turkey), His All-Holiness Bartholomew was elected in October 1991 as the 270th Archbishop of the 2000-year-old Church founded by the Apostle Andrew. His formal office is Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, a historic title dating to the sixth century.

The role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the primary spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian world and transnational figure of global significance has increased exponentially during the tenure of His All-Holiness. He has exchanged numerous invitations of Church and State dignitaries, and addressed many national parliaments. He has been invited to speak at the European Parliament, the United Nations, UNESCO, and the World Economic Forum.

The personal experience and theological formation of the Ecumenical Patriarch provide him with a unique perspective on ecumenical relations, interfaith dialogue, and environmental issues. He has worked tirelessly for reconciliation among Christian Churches and championed reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and other confessions, through theological dialogues, bilateral consultations, and personal encounters to address issues of common concern. He served on the Executive and Central Committees and Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, delivering the keynote address for the council’s 70th anniversary.

He has co-sponsored international peace conferences, as well as meetings on the subjects of racism and fundamentalism, bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews for the purpose of advancing greater cooperation and mutual understanding. He has advanced Christian-Muslim relations in such places as former Yugoslavia, advocating for peace-building measures to diffuse global conflict in the region, while supporting many traditionally Orthodox countries emerging from decades of wide scale religious persecution and oppression behind the Iron Curtain. 

  Perhaps no other church leader has ever brought environmental issues to the forefront of his personal attention and institutional action. He has organized international, inter-faith and inter-disciplinary symposia and summits to address ecological problems of the world, earning him the title “Green Patriarch” and prestigious international awards. 

Finally, in 1992, His All-Holiness convened a Synaxis (assembly) of Orthodox Primates, the first ever in a series of six assemblies to date, bringing together the world leaders of the Orthodox Churches to deliberate on matters of common concern. He also presided over the historic restoration of the Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Autonomous Church of Estonia. Most recently, after a vacuum of almost an entire millennium, he convened the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete (2016). In January 2019, he granted autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.

Within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Throne, he was the first patriarch to summon a meeting of all bishops throughout the world, which have assembled regularly since 1992. 

In 1997, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the United States Congress. The Guardian recognized him as one of the world’s leaders in raising environmental awareness. And, in its category of Leaders and revolutionaries, Time Magazine named him as one of the world’s most influential people.

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