Iakovos III (Vavanatsos) of Athens

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Latest revision as of 17:16, October 22, 2012

His Beatitude Iakovos III (Vavanatsos) of Athens was the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and primate of the Church of Greece for less than two weeks between January 13, 1962 and January 25, 1962. His short tenure as archbishop was the result of political divisiveness during the Greek constitutional crises of the 1960s.

Life

George Vavanatsos was born in Galaxidi Parnasidas on June 22, 1895. He attended primary and Galaxidi boarding schools and participated actively in the worship life of the local church served by his uncle, the priest Nicholas. After completing his education at the School of Piraeus, he entered, initially, the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens followed by the law school. George was ordained a deacon in 1918 by Bishop Iakovos with the name Iakovos and was assigned as a deacon within the office of the Grand Archdeacon. In 1921, he was ordained a priest and elevated to archimandrite by Bishop Panteleimon. He was then appointed Secretary of the Archdiocese of Athens, including the Metropolitan Council and the Diocesan Court. In 1931, he was appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese.

On January 11, 1935, Fr. Iakovos was consecrated Bishop of Christoupoleos, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Athens, while remaining in the position of chancellor as "Great Protosyngelos." During the following years from 1923 to 1935, Bp. Iakovos administered the organization of the Archdiocese, a task in which he distinguished himself. He also emphasized the education of the clergy and the effective functioning of the parishes.

On September 30, 1936, Bp. Iakovos was elected by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece as the first Archbishop of the newly established Diocese of Attica and Megara. The diocese was formed by splitting off a portion of the Archdiocesan District. After the death of Archbishop Chrysostomos on October 23, 1938, Bp. Iakovos supported the candidacy of Metropolitan Damaskinos (Papandreou) of Corinth over that of Metropolitan Chrysanthos (Philippidis) of Trebizond. However, the election was annulled by the intervention of John Metaxas, then dictator of Greece, who dismissed Abp. Damaskinos and elevated Metr. Chrysanthos to the archbishop's see. Bp. Iakovos was considered by the regime, and the new church leadership, as undesirable and reduced the limits of the Metropolis of Attica. The limits of the metropolis were restored after the deposition of Chrysanthos and restoration of Abp. Damaskinos in 1941.

The pastoral policies established by Metr. Iakovos for the Metropolis of Attica and Megara became the standard administrative, organizational, and intellectual policies for all metropolitan districts of Greece. He, also, founded a preparatory school for training priests and instituted annual assemblies of priests. In 1953, he produced a guide of pastoral practices. He, also, established youth clubs that through teaching and dialogue aimed to help young people to attain one clear national and religious identity. As proof of the success of this program, in 1947, the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece made the youthful work of the Metropolis of Attica a template for its programs.

On January 8, 1962, Archbishop Theocletos II (Panagiotopoulos) died, which raised the issue of succession. Metr. Iakovos, who was on good relations with the Palace, having been honored with the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of George, emerged as a member of the principal candidates, although some newspapers made comments about his private life and various organizations circulated insulting notices aimed at defeating his candidacy although he had never been accused of any moral or pecuniary wrong during his priestly and episcopal career. The government pushed for an early election of the new Archbishop and a date of January 13, 1962 was set. However, Metr. Iakovos had expressed an intention that the Church create a kind of ecclesiastical bank that would manage the property of the Church of Greece. This caused the government to oppose him as the implementation of such a project would seriously damage the interests of the National Bank which held the deposited ecclesiastical capital. Thus, on the day of the election of the new archbishop, January 13, 1962, the nation was in turmoil.

After the two step election Metr. Iakovos was declared the winner, and he was enthroned as Archbishop of Athens on January 18 under heavy police guard. Political turmoil ensued as pressure increased to annul the election even as Abp. Iakovos received congratulatory messages from Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem and other top Greek Orthodox prelates. Under strong political pressure, Abp. Iakovos finally submitted his resignation on January 25, citing his strong belief that the involvement of the State in the internal affairs of the Church would be disastrous and that the likelihood of such mixing led him to submit his resignation.

After his resignation Abp. Iakovos returned to leading the Metropolis of Attica and Megara and to pastoral work there. A Conciliar Court was convened to deal with the complaints against him and examined 70 witnesses before giving an unanimous decision, accompanied by 135-page finding, that absolved the Abp. Iakovos.

When the military dictatorship was imposed on Greece on April 21, 1967, the rebel General Iakovos Spantidakis informed the Holy Synod that Abp. Iakovos had to resign from the see of the Metropolis of Attica because relations between Church and State were contrary to those of the "revolution." Abp. Iakovos refused to resign, after which the junta condemned and removed him from the pastoral care of the province by promulgating a law that provided for imprisonment in monastery in the country.

In 1974, after Abp. Seraphim became Archbishop of Athens, attempts to restore Abp. Iakovos to the Metropolis of Attica were thwarted by the military who remained in power. Abp. Iakovos remained at the Monastery of Our Lady Revealed in Salamis until his repose on October 25, 1984. He was buried at the monastery. His funeral, officiated by Abp. Seraphim of Athens, took place at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens.

Succession box:
Iakovos III (Vavanatsos) of Athens
Preceded by:
?
Bishop of Christoupoleos
auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Athens

1935—1936
Succeeded by:
?
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Attica and Megaridos
1936—1962
Succeeded by:
?
Preceded by:
Theocletos II (Panagiotopoulos)
Archbishop of Athens
1962—1962
Succeeded by:
Chrysostomos II (Hadjistavrou)
Preceded by:
?
Metropolitan of Attica and Megaridos
1962—1967
Succeeded by:
Nicodemus (Gkatziroulis)
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