Father Alexander Karloutsos, known and loved the world over as "Father Alex," is the subject of a lavish profile in the Greek newspaper "In," and the affection and respect the paper accords to him is richly deserved. As this profile states, Father Alex is a friend to presidents and billionaires, as well as to humble villagers and the poorest of the poor. Renowned worldwide for his wonderful ability to bring people together, Father Alex has had a storied career spanning six decades, which is ably encapsulated in this article. We present this English translation of the profile with gratitude to our merciful God and His All-Holy Mother for giving His Holy Church in America the gift of this unique and remarkable individual.
Father Alexander Karloutsos: Father Alex does not forget Lantzoi
By Maria Mourelatou
May 21, 2022
Father Alexander Karloutsos, or Father Alex, the man who feels just as comfortable talking to US presidents, billionaires and fellow villagers from his hometown of Lantzoi, said shortly before visiting an old watermill where his journey of life began on April 5, 1945: "I do not forget Lantzoi, I do not forget the Tower"
"Biden is…Bidenopoulos. He is a Peloponnesian, a real man!" This was stated, among other things, in the summer of 2021 about the American president in the newspaper "Patris" by Father Alexander Karloutsos, or Father Alex, as he is widely known among the Greek community in the USA, apparently wanting to affirm, as a joke…the patriotic pride of those who, like himself, come from Peloponnesian lands.
The strong man of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, originally from the Prefecture of Ilia, has the "freedom" to joke publicly about the surname of the global ruler, as the two men have been friends for years.
In an online event for the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, Joe Biden revealed to the 100 select members of the Greek community who participated through Zoom that he had known Father Alexander since 1978 - when he was a member of Congress and a close associate of Archbishop Iakovos.
A quick investigation on Google's search engine brings to light dozens of photo snapshots of Father Alex and Joe Biden. In some they pose side by side, with body language testifying that there is deep mutual respect between them, while in others wide smiles are framed by the warm presence of their wives Jill and Xanthi, a sign that the friendship of the two men has also affected the members of their families, reaching the next generation, with their respective sons Michael and Hunter being close friends for many years.
Presbytera Xanthi is in fact a member of the Board of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children (founded in memory of the late son of the President of the USA).
From Carter and Reagan to Bush 41 and Clinton, and Bush 43 to Obama and Trump
On the Internet you can find pictures of Father Alex not only with the current US President, but also with those who have served in office for the last 45 years, from Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, to Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
And he stands - in a few frames, in fact, before he "turns gray" - next to everyone with the same bright smile of hope and humanity.
But how did he come from a son of a large family of immigrants from postwar Greece to become a symbol of the Greek Orthodox Community in America?
He has now been appointed the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of America and offers his services to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation and to the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as a spiritual advisor on the other side of the Atlantic.
For his overall contribution, in fact, during his recent visit to the United States, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Excellence of the Phoenix on behalf of the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Child of immigrants
If one takes a look at the personal history of man who for almost 40 years has been a bridge between the ecclesiastical community and the secular state, maintaining open channels of communication with Greek business figures, diplomats, politicians, religious leaders and international organizations, one will read about a boy born in a Greek village to two parents who were forced to follow the path of exile, like many of their contemporaries in the 1950s, to their Promised Land.
The death of his mother Olga, when he was only eight years old, made Father Alex follow the path of God, as his father Michael had done, and become a priest.
Thus, at the end of his postgraduate studies in Theology from the School of the Holy Cross, in 1970 he was ordained a deacon and a priest. Now having at his side Xanthippi, the beautiful North Epirus woman he met at the wedding of a fellow student and with whom he was about to have three children, he was appointed for the first time a priest in the parish of Saints Constantine and Helen in Chicago.
The year, however, that was the turning point for his launch into the heart of the American political establishment and the Greeks of the USA - including the family of the current US Ambassador to Greece, George Tsunis - was, as he has acknowledged, 1976.
When President Carter had not invited Archbishop Iakovos to his inauguration, he commissioned Father Alex, who became the National Youth Director in 1974, to build the Archdiocese-White House-Congress public affairs, a process that gave birth to…Father Alex, who then left youth ministry to associate with Senators.
In the early 1980s, he and the presbytera would develop a friendship with an Hierarch from Constantinople, the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who in 1994 appointed him protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The late '90s find Father Alex in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in sunny Southampton, where he still lives with five of his ten grandchildren. His other grandchildren are from his son Michael, who inherited his love for a large family and desire to bring people together, implementing plans of Father Alexander, such as the Holy and Great Synod in Crete in 2016 or the historic joint trip of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with Pope Francis in 2014 to the Holy Land.
In August of '21, Father Alex was back in the heart of events, as he was the one who announced, 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the first Divine Liturgy at the brand new church of St. Nicholas.
Two months earlier, in June '21, the man who felt just as comfortable talking to billionaires in New York City gala halls and fellow villagers in his hometown of Lantzoi said shortly before visiting an old watermill where the journey of his life began on April 5, 1945: "I do not forget Lantzoi, I do not forget the Tower, I came here again in the '70s, honeymoon, and how could I have imagined that I would have this life with which God has blessed me…”