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PRESS RELEASE                           FOR IMMEDIATE USE                    26 JULY 1996




Please find below the text of a tribute by Dr Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), to His Beatitude Parthenios.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Parthenios III, aged 76, died of a heart attack on 23 July during a visit to Greece. The funeral will be held on 30 July at the cathedral church of St Nicholas in Cairo, Egypt.

"His Beatitude Parthenios, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, has been one of the outstanding Orthodox leaders of the ecumenical movement. Already as Metropolitan of the diocese of Tripoli, he served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches since 1968 and became a trusted interpreter of the Orthodox voice in the life of the World Council. It was in recognition of his genuine ecumenical commitment and his profound spiritual wisdom that he was invited to present an address on the main theme of the World Council of Churches' Assembly in Canberra in 1991, where he was subsequently elected as a President of the World Council of Churches. Continuing the dedicated efforts of his predecessor, His Beatitude Nicolaos VI, he has facilitated the growth of the African expression of Orthodoxy which has begun to widen and enrich the ecumenical movement in Africa.

The passing away of His Beatitude Parthenios leaves a gap which cannot easily be filled. His distinctive voice of wisdom and ecumenical passion will continue to reverberate for a long time to come. The World Council gives thanks to God for the life and witness of this devoted servant of the Church. He has been a blessing for many, and the World Council of Churches will always honour his memory and the legacy he left."

Additional biographical notes:

Elected in February 1987, Parthenios III was the 113th Partriarch of the historical see of Alexandria.

He was born in Port Said, Egypt, to parents of Greek origin, and attended primary and secondary school in Egypt. He graduated from the Theological School of Halki, Istanbul, Turkey in 1939. He did his post-graduate theological studies at Oxford University and at the Sorbonne, Paris.

He took his monastic vows under the name of Parthenios in 1939 and was ordained deacon and later priest. He was appointed chief secretary to the Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. From 1953 to 1959, he served as president of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Patriarchal Library of Alexandria and became a permanent member of the Patriarchal publications.

In 1958, he was elected Metropolitan of Carthage in the diocese of Tripoli, Libya, and became a permanent member of the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.

In 1968, he was elected member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and became a WCC president in 1991.