Senate Tribute to Archbishop Iakovos on March 16, 1989

Senator Alfonse Marcello D’Amato

Mr. D'Amato. Mr. President, April 1 marks a significant date for those of the Greek Orthodox faith, and for people of all faiths as well. On this day, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the enthronement of Archbishop Iakovos as primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

While the archbishop is obviously a spiritual leader of millions of Greek Orthodox, the entire world has benefited from his work. Internationally recognized as an advocate for human and civil rights, justice and freedom, Archbishop Iakovos and his work have made the world a better place.

Baptized as Demetrios Coucouzis, Archbishop Iakovos was born on the Island of Imbros, Turkey. Prior to his ordination in 1934, he earned degrees from Ecumenical Patriarchate's Theological School and Harvard University-School of Divinity. He had served the Greek Orthodox faithful throughout the United States for years when elected Bishop of Melita in 1954. On February 14, 1959, he was elected archbishop of North and South America by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. On April 1, he was enthroned as archbishop in the Americas, and soon afterward named primate.

In addition to his duties as primate, Archbishop Iakovos is Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; president, board of education, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America; founder and chairman, Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA]; chairman, SCOBA `Ecumenical Commission for Dialogue' with Roman Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; honorary board, Advisory Council on Religious Rights in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union--United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee; among other influential positions.

His ecumenical activities and achievements are also numerous. From 1955 to 1959 he was a personal representative of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. Archbishop Iakovos has worked hard to bring the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches closer together. As the first Greek Orthodox archbishop to visit the Pope in 350 years, he was received in private audience by Pope John XXIII at the Vatican in 1959. He accompanied Patriarch Athenagoras to Jersualem for the historic meeting with Pope Paul VI in 1965. Pope Paul VI received Archbishop Iakovos in private audience twice--once in 1965, and also in 1967.

He has tirelessly worked to improve relations and communications with other religions, as well. He initiated and established dialogs between the Greek Orthodox Church and Judaism, Anglicans, Lutherans, Southern Baptists and black church leaders. The archbishop has worked for human rights for all people. As an outspoken religious leader, he strongly supported the American civil rights movement, and joined the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to march in Selma, AL. In 1974 he initiated a campaign to assist Greek Cypriot refugees following the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish Armed Forces. Speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves, he has fought human rights violators, religious persecutors, and oppressive governments throughout the world.

He is a world traveler, speaks four languages, authored `Faith for a Lifetime: A Spiritual Journey' and numerous articles. Various organizations have recognized Archbishop Iakovos and his achievements--he has received over 20 awards, medals, and honors, and over 35 honorary degrees.

For over 50 years, Archbishop Iakovos has been a world-renown and beloved spiritual leader. Tirelessly, he labors to help bring freedom and civil liberty to those who suffer in tyranny. He has brought the grace of the Eastern Orthodox Church to millions of faithful in the Americas and beyond. I salute Archbishop Iakovos on his courage, dedication, and lifetime of accomplishments. Mr. President, I am sure all of my colleagues join me in congratulating him on the 30th anniversary of his enthronement. I wish Archbishop Iakovos many more years of success. 

Senator Alfonse Marcello D’Amato

Senate Service 1981-1999, Republican
Archbishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America