The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the first ecclesiastical center of the Orthodox Church in the world.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was born on the island of Imbros on February 29, 1940 to Christos and Meropi Archontonis. His birth name was Dimitrios. After graduating from the Zografeion Lyceum in Constantinople, he studied at the Theological School of Halki and graduated in 1961 and was immediately ordained a deacon, renamed Bartholomew.
He studied under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland, and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, specializing in the Canon Law. He was appointed Ph.D. of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Gregorian University) in Rome.
In October 1991 he was elected Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch. He is the 270th Archbishop in the 2000-year history of the Church founded by St. Andrew the Apostle.
He has worked for the reconciliation between Christian Churches and has gained an international reputation for highlighting environmental sensitivity throughout the world. He has worked to promote reconciliation with the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church, as well as with other doctrines, through theological dialogues and personal contacts with their respective leaders, in order to address issues of common interest. He maintains a close cooperation with the World Council of Churches. He has arranged many international meetings and discussions with Muslim and Jewish leaders to promote mutual respect and religious freedom worldwide.
He was ordained a deacon in 1961 and a presbyter in 1969.
In 1973 he was elected Metropolitan of Philadelphia and in 1990 Metropolitan of Chalcedon.
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 honor 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).
He speaks Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English. He is also fluent in ancient Greek and Latin.
He has co-organized many international conferences on peace, racism and fanaticism, bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews, aiming to create a spirit of greater co-operation and mutual understanding. He has given speeches to the European Parliament, UNESCO, the World Economic Forum and many national parliaments. He has organized six international, interfaith conferences on the global ecological problem of rivers and seas, and has received many important awards for environmental preservation.