Father Alex Karloutsos, a Greek American priest and former Vicar General for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work as a spiritual leader by US President Joe Biden during a ceremony at the White House in Washington on Thursday.
Karloutsos is among the most prominent religious figures in the United States. He holds liasonships, advisory roles, and is a counselor to some of our nation’s highest decision-makers. Throughout his tenure, he has known eight US Presidents.
During his speech, Biden described Karloutsos as an “incredible leader” and “a man of deep moral clarity” while praising his “unmatched humility and grace.”
Karloutsos retired from his role in the Church in May of last year. In a letter to Archibishop Elpidophoros, he mentions that he had submitted his retirement when he turned 75, but “it was not accepted.”
Last year, Father Alex Karloutsos insisted and finally his “request” was approved by the Archbishop, and so he retired from active ministry on May 3, 2021.
At the time of his retirement, Karloutsos stressed that he would “retire but not retreat” and still planned to remain active in the Church.
Father Alex Karloutsos awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
Karloutsos has been among the seventeen total recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom that have been decorated by the White House on Thursday.
Other recipients include Simone Biles, Olympic medalist and the most decorated American gymnast in history, former US representative and gun control activist Gabrielle Giffords, and actor Denzel Washington.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the USA’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the country, world peace, or other significant societal, public, or private endeavors.
One of the most recognizable figures in Greek Orthodox Church
Karloutsos was born in Greece and immigrated to the United States with his family at a young age.
His father, a priest himself, traveled the U.S. sharing God’s message. When Father Alex was in his earliest years of life, his mother tragically passed, leaving his father to raise six children.
Karloutsos started as an assistant priest at Sts. Constantine and Helen in Chicago in 1970, where he was active in youth ministries.
Some years later, he was appointed to the position of Archdiocesan Director of Youth Ministry and moved the headquarters to New York.
Later in the ’70s, Father Alex became the Archdiocesan Director of the Office of the Church and Society, where he served until 1980, when he then assumed the role of Director of the Department of Communications.
In just a short time, he went from a local priest to being one of the most recognizable names in the Greek Orthodox Church.