Washington, DC.- (GreekNewsOnline. Photos: GOA/D.Panagos)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christian, met separately with United States President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday.
According to a release by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the discussion involved the shared sense of urgency ushered by the climate crisis. The Ecumenical Patriarch noted that the need for political leaders to respond is particularly timely in light of the imminent COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
His All-Holiness also thanked President Biden for his decisive response to the pandemic and for his readiness to support developing nations in securing Covid-19 vaccines for their populations.
Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his sincere hope for the re-opening of Halki Seminary, which was forcibly closed fifty years ago.
In attendance at the hour-long meeting were Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, and the Vicar-General of the Archdiocese Fr. Alexander Karloutsos.
Also, present were Steven Ricchetti, Assistant to the President and Counselor to the President, Dr. Amanda Sloat, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe, NSC, John McCarthy, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Counselor to the President and Mr. Kevin Boyd, Director for Europe and Eurasia, NSC.
Remarks of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew after His Meeting with President Joe Biden
Dear Friends, Members of the Press,
We have just now concluded a warm and productive meeting with President Biden, and we express our gratitude to him for his gracious and truly fraternal welcome.
In the course of our conversation, we touched on many issues that pertain to the peace of the world and the hope for increased environmental justice on this single planet that we all share. We note with appreciation the President’s commitment to environmental responsibility and his willingness to lead the way. We have supported these efforts for the entirety of our thirty-year Patriarchy, and we shall continue to do so.
We expressed to the President our concerns for global stability, and role that constructive and positive religious movements can bring. He thanked us for our decades-long efforts.
Our efforts for promoting Christian unity and interfaith understanding and cooperation have but one principle – dialogue. We consider dialogue as the most effective means to address any challenge of the present or the future.
We have a responsibility to lead the Local Autocephalous Churches as an elder brother of one family. This sense of family is intrinsically Orthodox, and we cannot allow any shortsighted political agendas to interfere with our relationships that are through and in Christ Jesus the Lord and Savior of the world.
Therefore, we express our abundant satisfaction with the meeting with President Biden today. He is a man of faith and man of vision, and we know that he will offer to this wonderful country and to the world, the best leadership and direction within his considerable powers.
White House Readout of President Biden’s Meeting with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. met today with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and congratulated him on thirty years of moral and spiritual leadership as Ecumenical Patriarch. The President expressed relief at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s speedy recovery. They discussed efforts to confront climate change, steps to end the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Their meeting underscored the critical role that faith communities play in confronting the range of global challenges we all face, as well as the decades-long friendship and partnership between President Biden and His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch.
As “KATHIMERINI” REPORTS, While Bartholomew’s visit was expected to draw attention to the plight of the small Orthodox Christian minority in his homeland of Turkey, he took a diplomatic tone at an earlier breakfast meeting hosted by Turkish Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan, according to remarks released by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Bartholomew said his mission as patriarch “is purely spiritual, and demonstrates how Turkey can be — not only an inclusive society, but a bridge-builder between East and West.” He called the ambassador’s welcome an example of mutual “dialogue and respect.”
The remarks did not refer to ongoing sore points such as the Turkish government’s closure of an Orthodox seminary on the Turkish island of Halki 50 years ago.
Blinken, however, “reaffirmed that the reopening of the Halki Seminary remains a continued priority” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
“They discussed the U.S. commitment to supporting religious freedom around the world and opportunities to work with the Orthodox Christian community worldwide on issues of shared concern, as well as with religious minorities in Turkey and the region,” Price said.
Blinken also praised the “remarkable leadership” Bartholomew, sometimes known as the “green patriarch,” has shown in calling for solutions to the climate crisis.
Bartholomew also said Monday he’d join with Pope Francis and the leaders of other major religions around the world to call on the global community to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations for the world, especially for poor countries.
Bartholomew was released from a Washington hospital Monday morning after an overnight stay. He was brought to George Washington University Hospital on Sunday night after he felt “unwell” due to the long flight on Saturday and the busy schedule of events, according to the Greek Orthodox archdiocese.
Bartholomew is the patriarch of Constantinople, based in Turkey. He is considered first among equals among Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which gives him prominence but not the power of a Catholic pope. He does oversee Greek Orthodox and some other jurisdictions, although large portions of the Eastern Orthodox world are self-governing under their own patriarchs.