Ieronymos (Kotsonis) of Athens

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His Beatitude, the Most Reverend Ieronymos (Kotsonis) of Athens, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, was the ruling hierarch of the Church of Greece from 1967 to 1973. He was the palace chaplain to the King of Greece and succeeded to the cathedra of Greece in 1967 after the retirement of Abp. Chrysostomos (Hadjistavrou).


Born in 1901 on the island of Tinos, Ieronymos was ordained a deacon in 1932. Entering a monastic, life he rose to the dignity of archimandrite. He attended theological schools in England and Germany on scholarships, then earned a doctorate from the University of Athens. He became an authority on canon law, with some ninety published works to his credit.

After World War II, Ieronymos took part in a movement that repatriated Greek children who had been kidnaped by Communist Guerillas during the civil war in Greece. Impressed by this work, Queen Frederika caused him to be named the palace chaplain in 1949.

In 1967, Ieronymos was appointed by King Constantine II to succeed Abp. Chrysostomos, following his retirement under the imposition by the junta of colonels of a requirement for retirement at the age of 80. Abp. Chrysostomos was then 87 years old. Abp. Ieronymos soon initiated a program of reviving the Greek Church. He started special drives to aid the poor and sick, to revamp the welfare system of the church, and to provide hundreds of "homes of tranquillity" for the aged. He initiated improvements in the salaries of the clergy and increased participation of the laity in the church operations. He also gave the church more responsibility for religious education and established a new charter that set 72 as the age for retirement of bishops.

The application of his reforms, however, had a dictatorial side as he took action against those clergy of questionable morality. The issue of his administrative actions came to a head in November 1971 when he ignored the desires of Patr. Demetrius I concerning the new territory dioceses in the assignments to a new Synod of Bishops, engineering the election of younger "men of merit" who backed Ieronymos' policies. These actions were attacked as violations of the canons.

After retiring to his native island of Tinos for a short time, Abp. Ieronymos offered his resignation, which the Synod refused. The dissident bishops, instead, went to court and got the whole Synod declared illegal. The bishops then formed a Synod based on the old territorial arrangement in which Ieronymos' faction was reduced to three of the ten seats.

Abp. Ieronymos retired in 1973.

Succession box:
Ieronymos (Kotsonis) of Athens
Preceded by:
Chrysostomos II (Hadjistavrou)
Archbishop of Athens
Succeeded by:
Seraphim (Tikas)
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