24 August 2022

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware,
Orthodox theologian, bishop
and academic, dies at 87

Patrick Comerford and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware at the IOCS summer school in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, a few years ago

Patrick Comerford

I am saddened to hear the news that Metropolitan Kallistos Ware died earlier today (24 August 2022), a few weeks before his 88th birthday.

Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia was a pre-eminent Orthodox theologian in Britain, an academic, lecturer and author and a faithful priest and bishop.

I first met him when he was a visiting lecturer was a post-graduate student at the Irish School of Ecumenics in 1982-1984. Later got to know him when he was a regular lecturer when I was student at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge from 2008, and we were both involved in a video promoting the work of the IOCS.

For many years, Metropolitan Kallistos (1934-2022) was President of the IOCS in Cambridge and chaired the board. For many people in the English-speaking world, his books and lectures were their first introduction to the world of Orthodoxy.

He was deeply committed to international dialogue between the Orthodox and Anglican Churches, and as awarded the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2017 ‘for his outstanding contribution to Anglican-Orthodox theological dialogue.’

Metropolitan Kallistos was born Timothy Ware in Bath on 11 September 1934, and was raised in an Anglican family. Having won a King’s Scholarship, he went to Westminster School. From there he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a double first in classics as well as reading theology.

On 14 April 1958, at the age of 24, he joined the Orthodox Church, and later he travelled throughout Greece, where he spent much time at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos. He also visited other major centres of Orthodoxy, including Mount Athos and Jerusalem, and spent six months in Canada at a Russian Orthodox monastery.

In 1963, while he was still a lay member of the Orthodox Church, he published the first edition of his book The Orthodox Church under his original name, Timothy Ware. This has since become the standard English-language textbook and introduction to Orthodoxy, and he has gone on to wrote and contribute to many more books and journals.

He was ordained priest within the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1966 and was tonsured as a monk, receiving the name Kállistos. That same year, he was appointed the Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox studies at the University of Oxford.

He continued to hold that post for 35 years until his retirement. In 1970, he was also appointed to a Fellowship at Pembroke College, Oxford.

In 1982, he was consecrated a bishop with the title Bishop of Diokleia, and was appointed an assistant bishop in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.

Although was now a bishop, he remained at Oxford where he continued to lecture in the university as well as serving as the parish priest of the Greek Orthodox community.

He retired in 2001, but he has continued to publish and to lecture on Orthodox theology.

In 2007, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated the Diocese of Diokleia to the status of a metropolitan diocese. He became a titular metropolitan although he never had pastoral care of a diocese and was nominally an assistant bishop in the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.

He also chaired the Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona and the Friends of Mount Athos and serves on the advisory board of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

The Orthodox Church, first published in 1963, has run to several editions and has been revised many times. In 1979, he produced a companion volume, The Orthodox Way.

However, his most substantial publications have emerged from his translation work. With GEH Palmer and Philip Sherrard he has undertaken to translate the Philokalia. Four volumes of five published to date, but the fifth volume has yet to appear.

It was a privilege some years ago to join his 80th birthday celebrations at an IOCS conference in Cambridge. The conferences and programmes organised by the IOCS are not going to be the same without his humorous and gently-delivered yet scholarly and authoritative papers.

May his memory be eternal.

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