His Holiness Bartholomew I

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Patriarch of Constantinople – Patriarch of the Orthodox Church
Bartholomew I (Greek: Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαῖος Α’, Patriarchis Bartholomaios A’ , Turkish: Patrik I. Bartholomeos; born 29 February 1940) is the 270th and current Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, since 2 November 1991.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is regarded as theprimus inter pares (first among equals), and as the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.
Born Dimitrios Arhondonis (Greek: Δημήτριος Αρχοντώνης, Dimítrios Archontónis), in the village of Agios Theodoros on the island of Imbros (later renamed Gökçeada by Turkey), after his graduation he held a position at the Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki, where he was ordained a priest. Later, he served as Metropolitan of Philadelphia and Chalcedon and he became a member of the Holy Synod as well as other committees, prior to his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch.
Bartholomew’s tenure has been characterized by intra-Orthodox cooperation, inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, as well as by formal visits to Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim leaders seldom previously visited by an Ecumenical Patriarch. He has exchanged numerous invitations of Church and State dignitaries. His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious tolerance among the world’s religions, as well as his efforts to promote ecology and the protection of the environment, have been widely noted, and these endeavors have earned him the title “The Green Patriarch”. Among his many international positions, he currently sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute.
Bartholomew I was born in the village of Zeytinli (Greek: Άγιος Θεόδωρος, Agios Theodoros) in the island of Gökçeada (Greek:Ίμβρος, Imvros), son of Christos and Merope Archontónis. His secular birth name isDimitrios Arhondonis (Δημήτριος Αρχοντώνης, Dimítrios Archontónis). He is a Turkish citizen, but he belongs (ethnically) to the historically indigenous Greek community in Turkey, which today is diminished and reduced due to the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey.
Dimitrios Archontonis attended elementary school in his native Imvros and continued his secondary education in the famous Zographeion Lyceum in Istanbul. Soon afterwards, he studied Theology as an undergraduate at the Patriarchal Theological school or Halki seminary, from which he graduated with highest honours in 1961, and was immediately ordained deacon, receiving the name Bartholomew. Bartholomew fulfilled his military service in the Turkish army as a non regular officer between 1961 and 1963. From 1963 to 1968, Bartholomew pursued his postgraduate studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany. His doctoral research was on the Canon Law. The same year he became a lecturer in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. After returning to Istanbul in 1968, he took a position at the Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki, where he was ordained a priest in 1969, by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I. When Demetrius I became Ecumenical Patriarch in 1972 and established the Patriarchal Office, he selected Bartholomew as its director. On Christmas of 1973, Bartholomew became Metropolitan of Philadelphia, and was renamed as director of the patriarchal office until his enthronement as Metropolitan of Chalcedon in 1990. From March 1974 until his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch, he was a member of the Holy Synod as well as of many Synodical Committees. He speaks Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English; he is also fluent in classical Greek and Latin.
As Ecumenical Patriarch, he has been particularly active internationally. One of his first focuses has been on rebuilding the once-persecuted Eastern Orthodox Churches of the former Eastern Bloc following the fall of Communism there in 1990. As part of this effort he has worked to strengthen ties amongst the various national Churches and Patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox Communion. He has also continued the reconciliation dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church started by his predecessors, and initiated dialogue with other faiths, including other Christian sects, Muslims, and Jews. Bartholomew I, after his attempts to celebrate the liturgy in remote areas of the country, thereby renewing the Orthodox presence, which was absent since before 1924, has now come under intense pressure from Turkish nationalist elements. The patriarchal Seminary of Halkiin the Princes’ Islands remains closed since 1971 on government orders.
The official title of the Ecumenical Patriarch is:
His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
in Greek:
Η Αυτού Θειοτάτη Παναγιότης ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Νέας Ρώμης και Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαίος Α’
The official title recognized by the Republic of Turkey is:
Bartholomew I, Patriarch of the Fener Roman Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul (“Istanbul Fener Rum Patriği Birinci Bartholomeos”)
Leadership and Honor
Patriarch Bartholomew, due to his title as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, is first in honor among all Eastern Orthodox bishops, presides in person – or through a delegate – over any council of Orthodox primates and/or bishops in which he takes part and serves as primary spokesman for the Orthodox communion, especially in ecumenical contacts with other Christian denominations. He has no direct jurisdiction over the other patriarchs or the other autocephalous Orthodox churches, but he, alone among his fellow-primates, enjoys the right of convening extraordinary synods consisting of them and/or their delegates to deal with ad hoc situations and has also convened well-attended Pan-Orthodox Synods in the last forty years. His unique role often sees the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to as the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church in some sources, though this is not an official title of the patriarch nor is it usually used in scholarly sources on the patriarchate. The Orthodox Church is entirely decentralized, having no central authority, earthly head or a single Bishop in a leadership role, having synodical system canonically, is significantly distinguished from the hierarchically organized Catholic Church whose doctrine is the papal supremacy. His titles primus inter pares “first among equals” and ecumenical patriarch are of honor rather than authority and in fact the Ecumenical Patriarch has no real authority over Churches other than the Constantinopolitan.
As Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew is the direct administrative superior of dioceses and archdioceses serving millions of Greek, Ukrainian, Rusyn and Albanian believers in North and South America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and parts of modern Greece which, for historical reasons, do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece.
Some of Patriarch Bartholomew’s actions have been criticized by other Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical bodies. In response to his promotion of closer relations with the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church released a public statement emphasizing that Bartholomew represents only his own Patriarchate, and not the whole of Eastern Orthodoxy, in his meetings with the Catholic Pope. The Orthodox Church in America, while acknowledging the Ecumenical Patriarch’s role in “guiding and preserving the worldwide unity of the family of self-governing Orthodox Churches”, also emphasizes that he carries no sacramental or juridical power over bishops outside of his own Patriarchate, and further states that “it is possible that in the future this function may pass to some other church.”
Sovereign Order of Saint John  – Knights of Malta