Bartholomew I
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Bartolomew I.jpg
ChurchChurch of Constantinople
DioceseConstantinople
SeeConstantinople
Installed2 November 1991
PredecessorDemetrios I
Personal details
Birth nameDimitrios Arhondonis (Δημήτριος Αρχοντώνης, Dēmḗtrios Archontṓnis)
Born (1940-02-29) 29 February 1940 (age 79)
Aghios Theodoros (Zeytinli Köyü), Imbros (Gökçeada), Turkey
DenominationEastern Orthodox
ResidenceFener, Istanbul, Turkey
ParentsChrḗstos (father) and Merópē (mother) Archontṓnis
Alma materPatriarchal Theological school (Halki seminary)
SignatureBartholomew I's signature

Bartholomew I (Greek: Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαῖος Αʹ, 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.[1] In accordance with his title, he is regarded as the primus inter pares (first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and as the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.[a]

Born Dimitrios Arhondonis (Greek: Δημήτριος Αρχοντώνης, Dimítrios Archontónis), in the village of Agios Theodoros (Zeytinli Köyü) 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, intra-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, and formal visits to Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim leaders seldom previously visited by an Ecumenical Patriarch. He has exchanged numerous invitations with 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".[20][21] Among his many international positions, he currently sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute.[22]

Early life and background

Bartholomew I was born in the village of Zeytinli (Greek: Άγιος Θεόδωρος, Agios Theodoros) in the island of Imbros (Greek: Ίμβρος, Imvros), son of Christos and Merope Archontónis. His secular birth name is Dimitrios Arhondonis (Δημήτριος Αρχοντώνης, Dimítrios Archontónis). He is a Turkish citizen, but he belongs (ethnically) to the historically indigenous Rum – descendants of Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire Greek community in Turkey, which today is diminished and reduced due to the Greek genocide, the subsequent population exchange of 1923 between Greece and Turkey and ultimately through the exodus of Greeks post the 1960s Cyprus conflicts.

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 Modern Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English; he is also fluent in classical Greek and Latin.

Bartholomew I was the target of an assassination plot which was planned to take place on May 29, 2013.[23] One suspect was arrested and there is an ongoing search for two others.[23]

Ordinations and ecclesiastical appointments