Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople
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Revision as of 17:48, December 21, 2004
His All-Holiness Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I (born Demetrios Archontonis on February 29, 1940) has been the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and thus "first among equals" in the Orthodox Church, since November 2, 1991.
He was born on Imvros, an island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Turkey. By citizenship he is Turkish, but belongs ethnically to the remnants of the Pontian Greek community that used to exist in the Black Sea Region of Turkey, before the exchange of Turks in Greece with Greeks in Turkey as required by the agreements signed by two countries.
As Patriarch, he has been particularly active internationally. One of his first focuses has been on rebuilding the once-persecuted 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 Orthodox Church. He has also continued the reconciliation dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church started by his predecessors, and initiated dialogues with other faiths, including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sects. He is sometimes accused of acting in an authoritarian, almost papal manner by some of his detractors, especially regarding his actions toward the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Perhaps most unusually, he has gained a reputation as a prominent environmentalist, putting the support of the Patriarchate behind various international environmental causes.