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Orthodox Observer - September 1996

Biographical Profile

His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon of America

Archbishop Spyridon of America, son of Clara and the late Dr. Constantine P. George, was born Sept. 24, 1944, in Warren, Ohio.

After having completed his elementary education in both Steubenville, Ohio, and Rhodes, Greece, he was graduated in 1962 from Tarpon Springs High School in Florida.

He studied at the famous Theological Faculty of Halki where he graduated in 1966 with highest honors. He subsequently pursued postgraduate studies at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, specializing in The History of the Protestant Churches. Awarded a scholarship by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he then studied Byzantine Literature at Bochum University in Germany (1969-1973).

He served as secretary at the Permanent Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (Geneva, 1966-1967) and later as Secretary of the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambésy (Geneva), as well as director of its well-known news bulletin "Episkepsis" (1976-1985), in 1976 he was assigned duties as dean of the Greek Orthodox Community of St. Andrew in Rome, where he served until 1985.

Through his long and direct contracts with the Roman Catholic Church, be acquired down-to-earth realism in viewing inter-church relations, a fact which contributed to his appointment in 1984 as Executive Secretary of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.

In recognition of his manifold services, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him in November 1985 titular bishop of Apamea, assigning him as an auxiliary bishop to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Austria and Exarchate of Italy, as it was then known.

In November 1991, upon creating the Holy Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Spyridon as the first Metropolitan for this newly created Archdiocesan See. He immediately devoted his youthful energy in organizing the new archdiocese.

During the course of four years as Metropolitan of Italy, he created various auxiliary departments; increased the number of parishes and provided them with more sound structure; made a significant contribution to the edification of Orthodox unity by incorporating various Italian Orthodox communities; gave particular attention to the Orthodox youth by creating the Union of Greek Orthodox Students of Italy; and after centuries reintroduced Orthodox monasticism in Italy.

In 1992 he was appointed chairman of the inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, immediately giving renewed impetus to the dialogue with this preeminent Protestant body.

He has successfully represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in various inter-Church missions and international meetings. He was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's delegate to the Special Synod of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Europe (Rome, 1991). His address at this Synod was of vast importance because in it he clearly identified the developments which were to follow in the relations between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

He is fluent in Greek, English, French, Italian and German. Archbishop Spyridon is known for his dedication to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for his energetic career and creativeness. His service to this day bears evidence of open-mindedness and a modern mentality in addressing timely needs and problems of the Orthodox Diaspora.

[ Orthodox Observer, Vol. 61 - No. 1118, September 1996, pp. 3+17 ]
[ Orthodox Research Institute - www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/resources/hierarchs/
  constantinople/goarch/former/spyridon_bio.htm ]