His Eminence was elected as Archbishop of America on July 30th, 1996 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided over by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. 

The Enthronement Ceremonies were attended by His Eminence Metropolitan Ioakeim, senior member of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bishops and priests from throughout the Archdiocese, Orthodox hierarchs representing several jurisdictions, Catholic and Protestant clergy, members of the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives, and members of the diplomatic corps, among others.
Soon after assuming office His Eminence was appointed by Secretary of State Warren Christopher as one of 20 members of a Special Advisory Committee to the Secretary of State on Religious Freedom Abroad. He has also been invited to participate in The President's Summit for America's Future as one of 10 co-chairs and is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Archbishop Spyridon, the son of Clara and the late Dr. Constantine P. George, was born George C. P. George in Warren, Ohio on September 24, 1944. His father, a native of the Island of Rhodes (Greece) practiced medicine in Houston, TX, Tarpon Springs, FL and later, Warren, Steubenville and Mingo Junction, OH before moving back to Rhodes when George was nine years old. The Archbishop returned to the United States when he was 15 years old and lived for two years in Tarpon Springs, FL, the birthplace of his mother. He completed high school there, graduating in 1962.

He returned to Greece after high school to prepare for the priesthood and soon thereafter enrolled at the famed Theological School of Halki (Turkey) from 1962-66, where he graduated with honors. He subsequently pursued graduate studies in Switzerland (1967-68) specializing in the history of Protestant Churches. Awarded a scholarship from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he then studied Ecumenical Theology and Byzantine Literature at Bochum University in Germany (1969-73). Fluent in Greek, English, French, Italian and German, he is also extremely computer literate.

His Eminence served as secretary at the Permanent Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (Geneva, 1966-67), and later as Secretary of the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambesy (Geneva), as well as editor of its newsletter, EPISKEPSIS (1973-76).

Ordained a deacon on November 30, 1968, and taking the ecclesiastical name Spyridon, he was ordained to the priesthood on February 1, 1976, and assigned to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Andrew in Rome, where he served until 1985.

Through his long and direct contacts with the Roman Catholic Church, he acquired a down-to-earth realism in viewing inter-church relations, a fact which contributed to his appointment in 1984 as Executive Secretary of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

In recognition of his manifold services, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him as Titular Bishop of Apameia on November 5, 1985. He was ordained as bishop at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George on November 24 of the same year and assigned 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 Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe, the Holy Synod elected Spyridon as the first Metropolitan for the 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 provided them with a more sound structure.

His Eminence made a significant contribution to the cause of Orthodox unity by incorporating various Italian Orthodox communities, giving particular attention to the youth by creating the Union of Greek Orthodox Students of Italy. Following a lapse of many centuries, he reintroduced Orthodox monasticism in Italy.

In 1992 he was appointed chairman of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, immediately giving renewed impetus to the dialogue with this preeminent Protestant body.

He has also represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in various inter-Church missions and international meetings. His address to the Special Synod of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Europe (Rome, 1991) was of particular importance as he clearly identified the developments that were to follow in the relations between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

The first official pastoral visit of His Eminence was an emotional return to the city of his birth, Warren, OH, and Steubenville where he lived until the age of nine. Archbishop Spyridon, commenting on his visits to communities throughout the Archdiocese, has said that: "One of the greatest joys of being Archbishop is to visit the parishes . . . it gives me an opportunity to know the faithful and be a part of their community. A community in which clergy and laity, young and old, men and women, work together for the glory of God's name."

His has underaken  numerous initiatives in areas of adult religious education, inter-faith marriage and an expanded Internet presence for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and its Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the Fall of 1997, His Eminence hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch on his first official U.S. visit, which was a coast-to-coast visit spanning one month.
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His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon's Encyclical on the Feast of the Annunciation and the Celebration of Greek Independence Day

To the Reverend Clergy, the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Greek Organizations and all the Greek Orthodox People of America

Most Beloved Greek Orthodox Christians,

The anniversaries which we celebrate every year serve to remind us of extraordinary events that have played a decisive role in the course of the history of the world. They bring us insight and perspective which is at once timely and yet eternal. The magnificent feast of March 25th has a dual relationship to the joyous Annunciation of our Lady the Theotokos and to the legendary revolution by the Greek people in 1821. The feast presents us with two interrelated ideas, both of which are indispensable for us, whether as individuals or as a spiritual and ethnic commonwealth.

The first idea is the revelation to us about the All-Holy Virgin - the Panagia - who with unmovable faith and unparalleled piety succeeded at the most critical moment in history, when - "in the fullness of time" - God personally intervened for the salvation of humankind and of the whole world. That blessed utterance: "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word," revealed humanity's side of salvation, that is, the very thing which God desires from us, if He is to dwell among us and grant unto us the power of His own perfection, His eternity and incorruptibility - to us who are His mortal creation and who are ultimately subject to the passage of time.

Unshakable faith, an unforced and unassuming free response to divine will, which leaps forth spontaneously from a soul consecrated by virtues and divine grace, is the fundamental human contribution to salvation, the very thing the All-pure Virgin showed, when in truth she represented all of humanity. The great feast of Evangelismos - the Annunciation - calls to mind the miracle of the most pure Virgin, who, first of and above all others, offered herself in service to that great moment in history, the divine and all-saving Incarnation of the Son and Word of God.

Panagia was, is and will always be first in this most significant event in the history of our salvation. The import of this event reveals her as the spiritual Mother of all of us, and it makes the feast of the Annunciation a summons for our participation in a spiritual rebirth "in Christ", in fellowship with the Church until "Christ formed in us". Therefore, let us enter into this feast with faith and piety, with a clear conscience and minds truly open to God, that we may sing with all our hearts the immortal and most glorious hymn of the feast of the Ever-Virgin Theotokos: "Today is the commencement of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery of the ages, for the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin and Gabriel announces glad tidings of joy. Therefore together with him, let us cry aloud to the Theotokos: Rejoice! O Thou full of grace, the Lord is with thee!"

And yet there is a second perspective of the feast of March 25th, which contains another miracle - the revolution of the modern Greek, which, although somewhat different, is not unrelated to the miracle of the Annunciation. The warriors of 1821, with their signals - "Now for all to the Struggle!" and "Liberty or Death!" - made crystal clear their absolute belief and conviction in the inviolate rights and immutable values which comprise the natural law of human existence. They sacrificed themselves for equality, justice, mutual recognition and respect, free co-existence and cooperation for the common good, all of which adorn our race with the very qualities of humanity and civilization which pave the way to God and His heavenly kingdom.

There is no doubt that the revolution of 1821 entailed awesome sacrifices and unspeakable trials and sufferings. But the cup was full, even to the brim! Such a desperate stirring of people who had given so much to the world, but who had also suffered horrific deprivation without any restitution! No one has endured more generations of slavery and oppression, violent abuse and unjust forced exile from their sacred religious convictions and from the ideals of man and society which are recognized worldwide and are the foundation for western, and indeed, world civilization.

But, the Greek heroes of 1821 did not wage a war of conquest, neither of vengeance. They simply laid claim to the same inalienable rights which pertained to them and to all people, according to simple reason. They relied upon, we might say, the natural law of what is just and which has as its objective the value and worth of every man and woman. For this reason their sacrifices brought them success and they continue to succeed in today's struggles for justice and equal treatment for all people. Therefore, let this be our understanding of our national holiday. Let it be a perspective of justice, equality and freedom for all humanity and every culture and people.

Furthermore, our national perspective of the feast is not unrelated to the religious commemoration of the Feast of the Annunciation. Their connection is found in their common pursuit; that is, an absolute belief in righteousness and freedom. Where they differ is in the application: one pertains to man's relationship to God, the other to man's relationship with his fellow man. Yoked together, these two perspectives form the cross bars of the Holy Cross, which for us Greek Orthodox, comprises the key to our faith and our philosophy of life.

With today's feast, the Church leads us to renew our mindfulness of the Panagia and the message of salvation by the Annunciation. And our national anniversary reminds us that much sacrifice and struggle is necessary if we are to lay hold of righteousness and equality and to preserve freedom and peace.

I pray and dearly hope that as a Greek Orthodox people, we will live up to these most lofty ideals, which our Mother Church and Homeland have entrusted to us "through the intercessions of our Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary."

With much fatherly love,

Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America