Religious Freedom

Laureaat Freedom of Worship Award 2012

His All Holiness Archbishop Bartholomew I Laureaat Freedom of Worship Award 2012

His All-Holiness BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch is the 270th successor of the 2,000 year-old Christian Church founded by St. Andrew the Apostle, which he serves since 1991, and the spiritual leader of over 250 million faithful worldwide. As a citizen of Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew’s personal experience provides him a unique perspective on the continuing dialogue among the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds. He has worked to advance reconciliation among Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox communities in former Yugoslavia and has been supportive of peace-building measures to diffuse global conflict in the Balkans and the Middle East.


His All-Holiness has worked to advance reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and other confessions through theological dialogue, while also serving on the Executive and Central Committees and Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. He also presided over the historic restoration of the Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Autonomous Church of Estonia, while providing spiritual support to many traditional Orthodox countries emerging from decades of wide-scale religious persecution behind the Iron Curtain. He has co-sponsored international peace conferences, as well as meetings on racism and fundamentalism, bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews for the purpose of generating greater cooperation and mutual understanding.


As Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, Patriarch Bartholomew occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church, presiding in a fraternal spirit among Orthodox Primates. The Ecumenical Patriarch has the historical and theological responsibility of initiating and coordinating activities among the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, the Czech Land and Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, and numerous archdioceses in the old and new worlds.

This includes the convening of councils or meetings, facilitating inter-church and inter-faith dialogues and serving as the primary facilitator and spokesman of Orthodox Church unity. As Ecumenical Patriarch he transcends every national and ethnic group on a global level and has on five occasions convened the leaders of all self-governing Orthodox Churches around the globe, challenging them vigorously to pursue solutions to the challenges of the new millennium, for example, by categorically condemning nationalism and fanaticism.


From 1994-1998, he organized five ecological summer seminars at Halki on Religious Education (1994), Ethics (1995), Communications (1996), Justice (1997), and Poverty (1998). From 1995-2009, he convened eight international, inter-disciplinary, and inter-religious symposia, bringing together scientists, environmentalists, policy-makers and religious leaders and drawing world attention to the degradation of the Aegean Sea, Black
Sea, Danube River, Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, Amazon River, Arctic Ocean, and Mississippi River, thereby earning title “Green Patriarch” and receiving such environmental awards as the Scenic Hudson Visionary Award (2000) and the international Sophie Prize (2002).


His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious tolerance among the world’s religions, together with his work toward international peace and environmental protection have justly placed him at the forefront of global visionaries as an apostle of love, peace and reconciliation. In 1997, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the United States Congress. His English-language publications include:

Encountering the Mystery, Doubleday 2008

In the World, Yet Not of the World, Fordham 2009

Speaking the Truth in Love, Fordham 2010

On Earth as in Heaven, Fordham 2011