Thursday, February 7, 2008

Archbishop-Elect Ieronymos: Many Years!

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece convened today to elect a new Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, following the repose of Archbishop Christodoulos on January 28. The three candidates for election were Metropolitans Ieronymos of Thebes, Efstathios of Sparta, Anthimoes of Thessaloniki, and Ignatios of Dimitriada. His Eminence, Metropolitan Ieronymos (the Greek form of the name "Jerome") won 45 of 74 votes in the second round of voting, after none of the four candidates won an outright majority in the first try.

The Athens News Agency offers this biography:
Ieronymos, born Ioannis Liapis in 1938 in the town of Oinofyta, Viotia prefecture, is a graduate of the School of Philosophy (archaeology department) and the School of Theology of the University of Athens, followed by Byzantine studies via a state scholarship, as well as post-graduate studies in Austria and Germany.

He was academic assistant to Anastasios Orlandos, a subsequent president of the University of Athens, at the Archaeological Society of Athens, while he also worked as an instructor of literature at the Leontios High School in the Nea Smyrni suburb of Athens and at other high schools in Athens and Avlona.

He discontinued his teaching career after entering the clergy.

Ieronymos served as Coadjutor Metropolitan of Thebes & Livadia from 1967-78, where he was unanimously elected Metropolitan in 1981, after serving as abbot of two monasteries (1971-1981) and as secretary and later chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece (1978-81). He has served on the committees on ecclesiastical education, church property, Church-state relations, and Church scholarships, and as vice-chairman of the Church of Greece's radio station, as well as on joint Church-state committees regarding monastery property and ecclesiastical education, and as chairman of the Church-society dialogue committee.

The overwhelming majority (82 of the 110) priests in his bishopric are degree-holders in theology with a second degree (in literature, architecture, medicine, computer science, education, economics etc.).

Under his term as Metropolitan and his guidance, six monasteries (with a total of 45 monks) and 17 convents (with a total of 110 nuns) were renovated and staffed, while he has also written numerous articles, studies and books on theological, social and historical topics, while his book "Medieval Monuments of Evia (Euboea)" received the Athens Academy's top award in 1970.

His social work also includes the founding of boarding schools, orphanages and introduction of the institution of foster families, shelters for the elderly, rehabilitation centres for the mentally retarded, a training centre for the creative occupation of children with special needs in cooperation with prefectural agencies, a drug prevention centre, food pantries for the needy, including foreign guest workers, consulting centres, and a Centre of Historical and Archaeological Studies, while, as a former academic, he developed a special relationship with the teaching community in Viotia.

Other accomplishments in his bishopric include the establishment and operation of parish cultural centres, youth centres, and a model camping facility on Mt. Parnassos, while at his initiative the Viotia History and Culture Research Centre was founded, which collaborates with the universities of Durham and Cambridge.

Ieronymos was a protagonist in the creation, in his home town of Oinofyta, of a Population Awareness Centre on environmental and economic migrants' issues.

He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Craiova in Romania for his charitable work in the Metropolis on health issues, and is also president of the Hellenic Heart Foundation (ELIKAR), a public benefit foundation.
For an explanation of the election process, read this. For a press story on Metropolitan Ieronymos' election, read here. For a full biography in Greek, click here. He will be formally enthroned as Archbishop of Athens and Greece in the immediate future.

To the Archbishop-elect, Kyr Ieronymos: Many Years!

Metropolitan Ieronymos will be enthroned as Archbishop of Athens on Saturday, February 16; on the following day he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy with all the permanent members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.

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