Two members of Fordham’s Department of Theology have been installed as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.
George E. Demacopoulos, Ph.D., and Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., associate professors of theology, were installed as Archons at an Oct. 31 ceremony held at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan.
“His All Holiness Bartholomew could not have chosen better in elevating Dr. Demacopoulos and Dr. Papanikolaou as Archons,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “In their ecumenism, scholarship and devotion to the Ecumenical Patriarch, they represent what is best at Fordham. We celebrate their installation not merely for Telly and George’s sake, but because it represents yet another tie between Fordham and our Orthodox brethren.”
Demacopoulos and Papanikolaou are founding co-directors of Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies program, the first of its kind at a major university in the United States. The program includes an interdisciplinary minor in Orthodox Christian Studies; the annual Orthodoxy in America Lecture; and a triennial conference dedicated to a historical and theological analysis of the Orthodox/Catholic rift. The proceedings of the first conference, Orthodox Readings of Augustine, which took place in June of 2007, was published in the Fall of 2008.
“This is a very high honor that the church presents to Orthodox laymen who have distinguished themselves in service to the church,” said Anthony J. Limberakis, the national commander of the Archons and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarch since 1987. “These young professors are so worthy because of the work that they have done specifically with the return of the relics, their unique role in that work.
The title of Archon dates back to ancient Greece and was appropriated and transformed by the Christians of the Byzantine Empire. According to the Archon website, an Archon is sworn to defend and promote the Orthodox Christian faith and tradition. His special concern and interest is to serve as a bulwark to protect and promote the Sacred See of St. Andrew the Apostle and its mission. He is also concerned with the human race’s inalienable rights wherever and whenever they are violated – and the well-being and general welfare of the Christian Church.
“After His historic visit to Fordham, His All Holiness commented on the perfect harmony that existed between the Jesuit Community and the Orthodox Christian studies program,” said Father Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter, Ecumenical Patriarchate. “By honoring Telly and George, the Ecumenical Patriarch wanted to also honor Fordham and its President for enthusiastically advocating a dynamic synergy of Orthodox and Catholic thought in an academic world.”
“Being nominated to the Order of St. Andrew/Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a humbling honor and a testament to the extent to which the University’s commitment to the Orthodox Christian Studies Program is respected and appreciated by the Orthodox Church in general and the by Ecumenical Patriarch in particular,” said Demacopoulos.
Papanikolaou said he is receiving the honor on behalf of the entire Fordham community.
“Without Fordham’s unwavering support and embrace of our initiatives in Orthodox studies, this wouldn’t be happening,” he said. “I am very grateful to my Fordham colleagues and friends.”
When someone is elected to the Order they are given specific titles, which reflect ancient offices from the time of the Roman Empire.
Papanikolaou’s, in translation, is “Defender of Letters,” which should be interpreted as “Defender of Church Teaching” or “Defender of Doctrine.” Demacopoulos’ is “Teacher of the Nations.”
“These titles correspond to the profession of the individual and corresponds to the ancient titles that were used during the Byzantine Empire,” said Limberakis. “By honoring George and Telly, it’s our way of also honoring Fordham University in its leadership role of recognizing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and honoring Father McShane as he deserves outstanding credit.
“We recognize his fundamental role in reinforcing the relationship between Fordham, the Catholic Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the order of St. Andrew,” Limberakis said.