Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

September 12, 2004


The Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, His Beatitude Petros VII was killed on Saturday, September 11, 2004, along with 11 senior church officials, associates and five crew members in a helicopter crash while flying from Athens to Mount Athos.

The army and police of the Democratic Republic of Greece have confirmed that all passengers in the military craft en route to Mount Athos were killed. Greek Army General Staff Chief, Lieutenant General Nikolaos Douvas emphasized that a search for the bodies is underway but the situation is very difficult because the helicopter sank deep into the Aegean Sea, 5.5 nautical miles from the coast of the Chaldiki Peninsula. The helicopter was scheduled to land at about noon; at about 11:10 a.m. the pilot radioed his final message stating that he was losing control of the craft, reported the spokesman of the Greek Army’s Airforce, Mr. Konstantinos Prionas. Military sources emphasized that the crash was accidental but that its cause was still unknown. General Nikolaos Douvas stressed that weather conditions and visibility were good, and that the helicopter was only a year and a half old.

Greek General Nikolaos Douvas informed the public of the names of those killed in this major tragedy. On board the helicopter were Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and all Africa of blessed memory, Metropolitan Erineos of Pilousiou, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Carthage, Bishop Nektarios of Madagascar, Archimandrite Arsenios of the monastery of Machera, Archimandrite Kallistratos Economou, Deacon Nektarios Kontogiorgos, the Patriarch's legal adviser Georgios Mavros, the Patriarch's technical adviser Patroklos Papastefanou, press adviser Georgios Xenoudakis, the Patriarch's brother Georgios Papapetrou and the Patriarch's personal police guard Spiridon Koursaris. The five crewmembers of the Chinook were Major Papanastasiou, Warrant Officer Raptis, Platoon Sergeant Pantelis Hatzivangelis, First Sergeant Panagiotis Golegos, and Army Airforce Helicopter Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Dimitris Papaspirou

Patriarch Petros of blessed memory was born in 1949 in Cyprus and completed his elementary, secondary and university education in Nicosia, Alexandria, Dublin and Athens, where he completed theological studies in 1978. He was ordained a deacon in the monastery of Macheras in Cyprus, and from 1970 to 1974 he served as a deacon to then Patriarch Nicolaos VI of Alexandria.

He was ordained a priest at the monastery of Pentelis in 1978. The same year he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite, and at the same time he was placed in charge of the Patriarchal offices in Cairo. At the request of then Patriarch of Alexandria, he was consecrated a bishop by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus on August 15, 1983 in the monastery of Macheras in Cyprus. On June 14, 1990, he was elected Metropolitan of Accra and West Africa; the following year Patriarch Parthenios III of blessed memory appointed him Patriarchal exarch in the Archdiocese of Irinoupolis (Kenya - Uganda - Tanzania). At the end of 1994 he was named Metropolitan of Cameroon and West Africa.

He was elected Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa on February 21 and his enthronement ceremony on the ancient Holy See of Alexandria took place on March 9, 1997.

Patriarch Petros placed great importance on the mission of the Church among the native people of Africa. As representative of the Patriarchate of Alexandria he took part in many inter-Orthodox and inter-faith gatherings and conferences at both the all-Orthodox and all-African level.

Upon the invitation of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle and the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox church, His Beatitude Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and all Africa visited the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On that occasion, Patriarch Petros of blessed memory visited the Dioceses of Srem, Backa, Banat, Sumadija, Branicevo, Montenegro and the Littoral, and Zahumlje and Herzegovina. At a formal reception prepared in the Belgrade Patriarchate in honor of the visit of the high delegation of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to the Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbian Patriarch Pavle presented Patriarch Petros of Alexandria and all Africa with the Order of St. Sava of the First Degree.

[Serbian Translation Services]

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