Washington, DC (GreekNewsOnline, Photo:GOA/D. Panagos)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met Tuesday with US Congress leaders, pressing the need for the immediate opening of the Halki Theological School, shut down by Turkey in 1971.
Bartholomew had a private meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then a dinner in his honor attended by several Senators and Representatives. During the dinner, he also had a talk with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Menendez.
The Patriarch and the two senior clerics who accompanied him, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Metropolitan Elder of Chalcedon Emmanuel, emphatically raised the need for the Halki Theological School to reopen immediately. They tried to make this an international issue and decouple it from the agenda of Greek-Turkish disputes. For this reason, Vartholomaios called on the United States to upgrade the issue politically and take a step beyond rhetorical support.
The importance of promoting religious freedom as well as the need to support developing nations in securing vaccines against Covid-19 were also underlined. The Patriarch has repeatedly stressed the need for a socially just management of the pandemic.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Meets with Speaker of the House
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol today, October 26, 2021. Also present at the meeting were Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
During the meeting, His All-Holiness recalled the honor of receiving the Congressional Gold Medal during his first official visit to the United States in 1997, adding how proud he is to share this honor now with the honorable United States Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also expressed appreciation to President Biden and Speaker Pelosi for the ongoing commitment of the United States to religious liberty and freedom of conscience around the world. He further discussed with Speaker Pelosi the urgent need of supporting developing nations to secure vaccines for their populations.
After the meeting, Speaker Pelosi hosted a luncheon in the Rayburn Room, attended by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered remarks on the Apostolic Visit of His All-Holiness. (Remarks here)
Earlier in the day, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop Elpidophoros, and the Official Delegation attended an ecumenical reception at the United Methodist Building, hosted by the National Council of Churches in honor of the Apostolic Visit. His All-Holiness was greeted by NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler as well as Chair of the NCC Governing Board Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton from the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The NCC offered a tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s Enthronement, presenting him with a special Proclamation and Pectoral Cross. His All-Holiness then delivered an address entitled “The Future of Ecumenical Dialogue.” (Full text here)
Honored to join my colleagues in welcoming His All Holiness @EcuPatriarch to the US Capitol. Grateful to share our admiration for his commitment to peace & cooperation, & inspired by his global leadership in combatting climate change & advocacy for interfaith dialogue.
Honored to join Congressional leaders in welcoming His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States Capitol and expressing our deep gratitude for his inspirational commitment to religious freedom and human rights around the world.
Senator Chris Coons
It was an honor to meet His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew today and hear him speak about the urgency of addressing climate change.
As we strive to develop global climate solutions, the Ecumenical Patriarch’s interfaith leadership serves as inspiration to us all. https://t.co/FmNDTGRlCJ
Toast of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the U.S. Capitol
Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros,
We are deeply pleased to be the guest of Your Honorable Person today, Madam Speaker, especially in the Seat of the United States Government, and in this Room dedicated to the memory of your distinguished predecessor, Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn.
Just a short while ago, we shared reminiscences that took us back over twenty years to the day when the United States Congress honored our humble person with the Congressional Gold Medal. This recognition, by such an august body that you now lead with such ability and skill, is still held by us to be one of the great recognitions of our now, Thirty-Year Patriarchy.
Just as you uphold, in these hallowed halls of government, the values of that remarkable document – the United States Constitution – the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople upholds the same values of the Constitutional framework of Christianity, the common principles of canon law, stemming from the tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium.
And just as you stand for the rule of law and against the forces of lawlessness, we also hold for the Orthodox World the proper canonical order and tradition, against autocratic forces that would seek to dominate through raw power alone.
Finally, we express our admiration for your commitment to environmental justice and responsibility. For all the years of our tenure on the Apostolic Throne of Constantinople, we have ceaselessly worked to bring about a change of consciousness and behavior toward the environment. Much like your friend, the Dalai Lama, as well as our brother His Holiness Pope Francis – with whom we just recently met on this very issue – we are committed to a realignment of societal values, to protect this one planet that we all share, our Mother Earth.
Therefore, Madam Speaker, with gratitude to you for your warm welcome and your extraordinary service to America and the world, we lift our glass in your honor, invoking the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ upon you, and upon the Honorable Members of the United States House of Representatives.
Remarks by Senator Chuck Schumer D-NY at the bi-partisan Luncheon in honor of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol
“Thank you Madame Speaker for your introduction, and for bringing us together for this remarkable occasion.
On behalf of the United States Senate, on behalf of my home state of New York, and on behalf of the American people—I want to welcome his All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States Capitol.
Thank you also to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America for joining us as well.
To your All-Holiness: it is always a joyful occasion to welcome guests to this temple of Democracy—but it is a rare honor and a blessing to welcome the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians.
New York is a proud home to hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Christians, and we all join together celebrating your visit to our country.
And furthermore, I take his All Holiness’s visit as nothing less than a sign of God’s grace, for as both Houses of Congress work to finalize historic legislation to fight climate change, it is only fitting that “Green Patriarch” himself should pay us a visit!
Throughout your Patriarchal tenure, you have been one of the world’s foremost leaders in environmental stewardship and protecting God’s creation. Today I join my colleagues in thanking you for raising the consciousness of humankind, as you have said, in pursuit of this goal.
Protecting our planet is more important now than ever before. It is an obligation that we all carry and for which we all must answer for. We here in Congress look to your example to guide us as we endeavor to honor that responsibility.
In closing, I wish your All-Holiness the very best on your trip within the United States, which I understand includes a visit to my home state of New York.
I am grateful that even after thirty years serving as Patriarch, you have returned again and again to our great country, and we stand ready—with open arms—to welcome you when you return yet again.
Thank you, your All-Holiness, for honoring us with your presence and your leadership.”