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Patriarch Bartholomew I

Patriarch Bartholomew I has been the Patriarch of Constantinople, and thus head of the Eastern Orthodox Communion, since November 2, 1991.

He was born Demetrios Archontonis (February 29, 1940) on Imvros[?], an island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Turkey. By citizenship he is Turkish, but belongs ethnically to the remnants of the Pontian[?] Greek community that was largely killed or expelled by the Turks in the early 20th century.

As Patriarch, he has been particularly active internationally. One of his first focuses has been on rebuilding the once-persecuted Eastern Orthodox Churches of the former Eastern Bloc following the fall of Communism there in 1990. As part of this effort he has worked to strengthen ties amongst the various national Churches and Patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox Communion. He has also continued the reconciliation dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church started by his predecessors, and initiated dialogues with other faiths, including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sects.

Perhaps most unusually, he has gained a reputation as a prominent environmentalist, putting the support of the Patriarchate behind various international environmental causes.

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