Archbishop Iakovos, pioneer Orthodox ecumenist, dies at 93

Introduced Greek Orthodox church to civil rights landscape
Archbishop Iakovos, the spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox Christians in the Americas who introduced the immigrant church to the ecumenical, interfaith and civil rights landscape of the late 20th century, died April 10 of a pulmonary ailment in a Stamford, Connecticut, hospital. He was 93.

A native of Turkey, Iakovos earned a degree from Harvard in 1945, became a U.S. citizen in 1950 and was ordained in 1954. After serving four years as the personal representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul to the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, he was named primate of the Greek Orthodox Church for both North and South America.

Iakovos’s leadership out of the archdiocese’s New York headquarters lasted 37 years—from 1959 to 1996— partly because his requests to retire at a customary age were turned down by the ecumenical patriarch. He was highly valued for his diplomacy in religious and public affairs.

 

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