Pope Names New Archbishop of Athens

Reverend Fr. Theodoros Kontidis, S.J., Parish Priest of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Patras

Appointments in Latin America
© Vatican Media

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Athens and the office of apostolic administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Rhodos, Greece, presented by Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos.

The Holy Father has appointed the Reverend Fr. Theodoros Kontidis, S.J., parish priest of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Patras, as archbishop of Athens and apostolic administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Rhodos, Greece.

Curriculum vitae

Archbishop Theodoros Kontidis was born in Thessaloniki on 11 March 1956. After his secondary education in Athens, he moved to Rome, to the Pontifical Greek College of Saint Athanasius, attending courses in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He then moved to Louvain to study theology and in 1983 entered the Society of Jesus. After his novitiate, he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Centre Sèvres in Paris.

He was ordained a priest on 9 October 1988, after which he served parish vicar and parish priest of the Sacred Heart parish in Athens.

After his religious vows in 1995, he served as coordinator of youth ministry, superior of his religious community in Athens, editor of a magazine, and director of a house for spiritual exercises.

Since 2021 he has been pastor of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Patras. In addition to modern Greek, he speaks Italian, French, and English.

The See of Athens is one of the oldest Christian bishoprics, dating back to Hierotheos the Thesmothete in the mid-1st century AD. In ca. 800, it was raised to a metropolitan see.

In 1205, the city was captured by the Crusaders, who had conquered Constantinople and dissolved the Byzantine Empire the year before. The city’s incumbent Greek Orthodox bishop, Michael Choniates, retired to the island of Kea, and a Roman Catholic archbishop was installed in his place, with the French cleric Berard being elected to the post in 1206.

The Crusaders largely maintained the ecclesiastical order they found, appointing Catholic bishops to replace the Orthodox prelates. The Catholic see remained vacant for a period after the Catalan Company conquered the Duchy of Athens in 1311 due to the Catalans’ conflict with the papacy, and a residential archbishop is not attested until around the mid-14th century. Beginning with Dorotheus I ca. 1388, the Orthodox bishops of Athens, who had been continued to be appointed as titular holders since the Latin conquest, were allowed to resume residence in the city, but the Latin Archbishop retained his pre-eminent position until the conquest of the Duchy of Athens by the Ottoman Empire in 1456. The last Latin Archbishop, Nicholas Protimo, fled to Venetian-held Euboea, where he died in 1482. The Catholic see was held by titular archbishops thereafter.

On July 23, 1875, the see was restored as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Athens, ministering to the Roman Catholic inhabitants of the Greek capital and most of mainland Greece.