Fordham University will present an honorary degree to His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, in a ceremony today.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. Photo courtesy of Greek Archdiocese of America

The Ecumenical Patriarch, the 270th successor of the 2,000-year-old Christian Church founded by St. Andrew, will receive a doctorate of laws, honoris causa, at a ceremony to be held at the University Church on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.

“We are honored, of course, to receive the Ecumenical Patriarch here at Fordham,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “His All Holiness instructs us in ecumenism and tolerance, in stewardship of the Earth and in fearless defense of faith. Therefore, we welcome Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and look forward to ever-stronger ties between the Orthodox Christian and Catholic churches.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in the United States on Oct. 17 and will stay until Nov. 5. He began his trip in Memphis, Tenn., by leading his Eighth International Environmental Symposium, this time addressing the needs of the Mississippi River. He then traveled to New York City, where he celebrated several liturgies before today’s honorary degree ceremony.

In addition to the honorary doctorate, the Ecumencial Patriarch will receive a rose developed in his honor when he meets with students at a private reception. The rose, named “Bartholomew,” was developed by noted horticulturist Robert Neil Rippetoe. The bright red rose cultivar was created at the Roses Unlimited lab in Laurens, S.C., using some of the latest advances in rose breeding science. It will be registered under the name Bartholomew with the American Rose Society.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has occupied the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church since 1991. He is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world, and has worked in close and brotherly association with two Popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

A citizen of Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s personal experience provides him a unique perspective on the continuing dialogue among the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds. He works to advance reconciliation among Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox communities and is supportive of peace building measures to diffuse global conflict in the region.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew co-sponsored the 1994 Peace and Tolerance Conference in Istanbul. His efforts in environmental awareness, including the organizing of several environmental seminars, are highly noted, earning him the title “Green Patriarch.”


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.