Archbishop Spyridon (Papageorge) of Chaldea was Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America from September 1996 to August 1999. He did not accept his subsequent appointment in 1999 as Metropolitan of Chaldea and retired.
Archbishop Spyridon, the son of Clara and the late Dr. Constantine P. George, was born on September 24, 1944, in Warren, Ohio.
After completing his elementary education in Steubenville, Ohio, and Rhodes, Greece, he graduated in 1962 from Tarpon Springs High School in Florida.
He studied at the 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 Chambesy (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.
His long and direct contacts with Roman Catholic officials in Italy led 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 1985 the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him 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.
During the course of four years as Metropolitan of Italy, he created various auxiliary departments; increased the number of parishes and consolidated their structure; contributed 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 by reopening the Byzantine monastery of St. John Theristis in Calabria.
In 1992 he was appointed chairman of the inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation. He has 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 is considered of vast importance as it clearly identified the unfavorable developments which—due to the revival of Uniatism in Eastern Europe—were to follow in the theological dialogue between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
His twenty-year ministry in Italy, his participation in various interchurch dialogues, his frequent presence on the international church scene (he is fluent in Greek, English, French, Italian and German) and his American background all led to his election to the archiepiscopal throne of America on July 30, 1996.
Spyridon's activities in America were extremely varied as he focused his strategic policy on the pressing issue of the survival of Orthodoxy and Hellenism within the Greek American community. He took bold initiatives in dealing with vital matters affecting the Greek Orthodox Church of America: Greek education, Orthodox theological training, the Greek American lobby and the administration of the Archdiocese.
Due to internal church conflicts Spyridon resigned from the archiepiscopal throne of America on August 19, 1999, and never accepted his subsequent appointment as Metropolitan of Chaldea by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On September 15, 1999, he left New York and moved to his current home in Lisbon, Portugal, where he occasionally grants interviews and writes articles for the Greek press in America.
In 2002, Exandas Publishers published Spyridon's authorized biography, The Lonely Path of Integrity, written by Justine Frangouli-Argyris, a specialist in issues related to the Greek American and Greek Canadian communities.
In February 2003, at a reception at Terrace on the Park in New York, John Catsimatides, a business magnate and prominent figure in the Greek American community, announced the creation of the Archbishop Spyridon Foundation for Hellenic Education and Culture, with Archbishop Spyridon himself serving as honorary president. The Board of the Foundation includes John Catsimatides, president; Eve Condakes and Michael Cantonis, vice-presidents; Justine Frangouli-Argyris, secretary; Georgia Kaloidis, treasurer; as well as Leo Condakes, Dimitris Kaloidis, Harry Pappas, Bill Tenet, and Professor John Rassias.
In 2005 Ellinika Grammata published Spyridon, Archbishop of America (1996-1999) - The Legacy (Η Παρακαταθήκη), a bilingual edition that includes selected speeches and writings by the former Primate, with editing, introduction and commentary by Justine Frangouli-Argyris.
|Bishop of Apamea|
|Archbishop of Italy and|
Exarchate of Southern Europe
|Archbishop of America|
- Listing at the Orthodox Research Institute