1. The Trebizond intra-communal dispute and Konstantios II
Konstantinos Karatzopoulos succeeded the metropolitan of Trebizond Gabriil (Gabriel) to the metropolitan throne, after the latter was discharged from office and "suspended indefinitely" by the Synod of the Patriarchate in Constantinople. The former senior archimandrite ("protosyngelos") Karatzopoulos took over his new duties as Konstantios II on 29 April 1893 and was welcomed with enthusiasm by the faction which had opposed his predecessor.
Konstantios II had to face the acrimonious situation which had been created in Trebizond because of Gabriel’s activities. It is indicative that representatives of the faction that supported Gabriel often visited Konstantios to convince him to abandon his position. Konstantios II however, maintained a moderate stance. This was undoubtedly facilitated by his close friendship with the of Trebizond. That the Patriarchate of Constantinople was worried about the situation is clearly shown in a letter dated 28 August 1893 sent to Konstantios II, asking for information “on national and ecclesiastical matters”.1 The metropolitan reported back on the situation but also recorded his own actions for dealing with it. In its reply, the Patriarchate encouraged him to continue with his attempts to “bring about peace and harmony amongst the Christians”.2
A first positive result of Konstantios II’s attempts was that all the schools which had closed because of the intense intra-communal dispute re-opened and began to function properly. On 11 October 1893, Konstantios II reassured the Patriarchate of Constantinople by telegram that all schools in Trebizond “had opened their gates and were functioning properly.”3 In telegrams sent to Constantinople at the beginning of November of the same year, he maintained that the situation had remained unchanged.
Despite his attempts, the supporters of the ex-metropolitan of Trebizond Gabriel refused to send their children to the community schools. Instead, they established a private school housed in a Catholic school building. This school functioned during the period 1893-1897 and, naturally, caused great concern to the Patriarchate, which decided to send Anthimos, the metropolitan of Amaseia, as exarch in order to achieve peace between the factions. His attempts proved unsuccessful and Anthimos returned to his diocese.
Konstantios II’s attempts - facilitated by the Patriarchate – gradually brought about the desired results. Already, as testified by a letter dated 15 June 1895 sent by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the elders of Trebizond, order had been restored within the community, to such an extent that it was considered an example for other, smaller communities. Chrysanthos Philippidis maintains that harmony had been re-established by 1897; an immediate result was the decision to re-build the famous “Frontistirion” school of Trebizond. Konstantios II headed the celebrations for the inauguration of the “Frontistirion” on 14-15 September 1902.
2. Konstantios II’s general activities in Trebizond
Konstantios II’ contribution to the Trebizond community was important and reached beyond his purely ecclesiastical responsibilities. In 1898 he took all necessary actions in order for the crypto-Christians, who had declared their Christian identity, to be exempt from service in the Ottoman army. After the death of the vali of Trebizond, some robberies and violent acts were committed by Laz Muslims against the Christians in the Rizaion (Rize) province. Konstantios II acted in order for the Patriarchate of Constantinople to protest to the Ottoman government. As a result, the Sublime Porte published a relevant decree against the robbers.
The metropolitan of Trebozind also contributed to the opposition to Catholic propaganda. As a permanent member of the administrative council (İdare Meclisi) of the provincial government of Trebizond, Konstantios II managed to prevent the establishment of a Catholic orphanage. At the same time he turned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in order for it to address the Sublime Porte and put an end to this issue for good. In its written response, dated 11 March 1899, the Ecumenical Patriarchate assured Konstantios II that it had taken every necessary action to prevent the establishment of a Catholic orphanage. It also asked of Konstantios II to provide information on the issue.
3. Konstantios II’s activities outside the diocese of Trebizond
On the 16 October 1895, the Patriarchate of Constantinople commissioned Konstantios II, as patriarchal exarch, to visit the town of Santa, which was under the jurisdiction of the of the monastery of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Soumela, in order to examine the dispute between the parishes of Pinatanton and Ischananton over a chapel. Also, on 22 July 1895, Konstantios II was ordered to proceed to the monastery of Soumela and examine its expenses for the previous financial year. However, this journey was not realised as the monks drove some villagers from the village of Skalita – which was under the jurisdiction of the monastery – to revolt against him and interrupt his progress.
Apart from this, Konstantios II offered considerable protection to the diocese of Rodopolis which was established in October 1902 and consisted of the exarchies of the monasteries of Soumela, Vazelon and Peristereota. Gerbasios Sarasitis, the first metropolite of Rhodopolis, received intense opposition from the three monasteries, illustrating the ecclesiastical and social disputes at local level.
4. Konstantios II’s activities as a member of the synod and his death (1906)
Konstantios II served as a member of the synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for two terms. He was elected on merit for the first time on 5 November 1895. He arrived in Constantinople on the 6 February 1897 and performed his synodic duties for about a year. After the end of his term he returned to Trebizond on the 25 April 1989. Konstantios II’s second term began on 6 October 1904 during the reign of the Patriarch Ioakeim III. This was a critical period for the Church as Ioakeim III - after a common sitting of the National Mixed Council and the four members of the Holy Synod - relieved the 8 synodic prelates of their duties. After these developments, Konstantios II accepted the invitation made to him and left for Constantinople on the 30 November; on 3 December 1904 he “took his seat at the Holy Synod”. Konstantios II however died of heart failure - before his second term ended – on 18 June 1906. He was succeeded to the throne of the diocese of Trebizond on 29 June 1906 by Konstantinos Araboglou, known as Konstantinos II.4