2007-06-27 / Features

Archbishop Iakovos Ends His 37-Year Reign In Orthodox Church

Western Queens Gazette July 31, 1996

In what may have been his last public appearance before retiring at the end of this month, Archbishop Iakovos told thousands of worshippers last Sunday that they and their church would triumph over evil "because we believe in him who is the victory", he said.

The archbishop's 37-year reign as head of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese of North and South America will conclude on his 85th birthday at the end of this month. He gave his sermon as a steady rain fell on the Central Park bandshell where the

Among the outstanding events and achievements of Iakovos' reign was his historic meeting with Pope John XXIII in 1959. It was the first meeting of an Orthodox leader and a Catholic Pope in 350 years and the culmination of a four-year effort by Iakovos. celebration of the Orthodox Feast of the Holy Apostles was taking place.

The celebration, which opened the church's biennial Clergy-Laity Congress which runs until the Fourth of July, also served as a celebration of honoring the world-renowned archbishop's tenure and accomplishments.

The biennial Congress will also be a tribute to Iakovos' stewardship of the church. Under his firm direction, the Greek Orthodox Church and Eastern Orthodox Christianity moved into the mainstream of international religious and political life.

Just as controversies at times marked the archbishop's tenure, reports of conflicts between him and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew I of Constantinople surfaced with the unexpected announcement last August that he would be retiring. The Ecumenical Patriarch has direct authority over the Greek Orthodox archdiocese in the United States.

Among the outstanding events and achievements of Iakovos's reign was his historic meeting with Pope John XXIII in 1959. It was the first meeting of an Orthodox leader and a Catholic Pope in 350 years and the culmination of a fouryear effort by Iakovos.

Six years later, at the height of the civil rights movement in the south, he marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama. The picture of this other historic event made the cover of Time Magazine.

From that point, the archbishop was a frequent visitor to the While House and a respected voice in matters ranging from the Vietnam War to abortion to Greek concerns about the Cyprus issue.

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