The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Thronal Feast of the Church of Rome

The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, consisting of Their Eminences Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Iosif of Buenos Aires, and the Reverend Patriarchal Deacon Varnavas Grigoriadis, traveled to Rome to participate in the Thronal Feast of the Church of Rome. On 28 June, they took part in the conversations with the members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during which they discussed current issues of the two Churches. They were received by His Holiness Pope Francis in a private audience, in the presence of His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, His Excellency Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council, and Monsignor Andrea Palmieri, Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council.

At the audience, Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon read the letter from His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, addressed to His Holiness Pope Francis. His Holiness Pope Francis responded with his address. The delegation was then received for lunch by His Holiness Pope Francis. On 29 June, the members of the delegation will attend the Solemn Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

President of North Macedonia visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 19 June 2021. The president, who was accompanied by high-ranking officials of the Presidency and the Consul General of Northern Macedonia in Istanbul, Aktan Ago, were welcomed by the Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros and Archimandrite Grigorios, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, along with the clergy of the Patriarchal Court.

Afterwards, Mr. Pendarovski and the members of his delegation visited the patriarchal church, and were then received by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who expressed his delight at the president’s visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Pendarovski said he had been to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the early 2000’s, accompanying the then president of his country as a member of his staff.

The meeting, which took place in a cordial atmosphere, was attended by Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros, Archimandrite Grigorios, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, and Grand Syncellus Iakovos, as well as the president’s associates. It was followed by a private meeting between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the president, who exchanged views on issues of mutual interest. The Ecumenical Patriarch thanked President Stevo Pendarovski for his visit and for the interesting discussion they had.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Celebrated His Name’s Day

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated His Name’s Day on 11 June 2021 at the patriarchal church at the Phanar on the feast of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas. The service was attended by hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, delegations of the Autocephalous Churches of Cyprus and Ukraine, Abbots from Mount Athos, clergy, monks and nuns, archons of the Ecumenical Throne, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Mr. Konstantinos Vlasis, the Ambassador of Greece in Ankara Mr. Michael-Christos Diamesis, the former Deputy Minister Mr. Antonis Diamataris, Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou and Mr. Oleksandr Gaman respectively Consuls General of Greece and Ukraine in Istanbul, community leaders, students of the Patriarchal Great School of the Nation together with their principal and teachers, faithful from Istanbul and pilgrims from abroad.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon greeted His All-Holiness on behalf of the hierarchy. Then wishes were conveyed on behalf of the Greek Government by the Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Konstantinos Vlasis. A heartfelt greeting from the President of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also read by the Consul General of Ukraine Mr. Oleksandr Gaman. Wishes to His All-Holiness were also expressed in writing and by telephone by Primates of Churches, Heads of State, Prime Ministers and political leaders, ministers, hierarchs, religious ministers and many personalities, as well as many believers of all nationalities from all over the world.

Informal Talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Communion

The informal talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Communion took place online on 8 June 2021. The delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate consisted of Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Orthodox co-chair of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue), Archbishop Job of Telmessos and Protopresbyter Christos Christakis (Orthodox co-secretary of that Commission). The Anglican Communion was represented by the Anglican co-president, Archbishop Richard Clarke (Anglican co-chair of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue), Bishop Graham Usher, Reverend Sarah Rowland Jones, Reverend Dr. Will Adam and Reverend Neil Vigers. The two delegations dealt with the current issues of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Communion as well as other theological and social issues of common interest.

Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network

The virtual Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) was held online from 31 May to 1 June 2021 addressing the theme “Reconciled with Creation: A Call for Urgent Action on Climate and Biodiversity”. The ECEN Assembly brought over 200 participants from Europe and beyond. The event highlighted responses to climate change and efforts for a sustainable future with an ethical dimension, addressing questions of individual and collective freedom, as well as pursuit of justice and responsibility for the future.

The Assembly also highlighted practices from European churches addressing environmental concerns, and advocating for supportive governance. European Christian youth played a vital role at the assembly, where environmental initiatives from youth were especially honoured. “Reconciliation with the earth cannot be separated from corporeality and is closely linked to the care of and reverence for life,” said Bishop Jochen Cornelius-Bundschuh from the Protestant Church in Baden, and keynote speaker at the assembly. “In struggle for reconciliation with the earth, churches are obliged to contribute the theological concept of an interruption of the instrumental, solely purpose-oriented way of thinking and acting. They will advocate long-established social practice of Sunday, which publicly celebrates a good life within the framework of an ‘economy of enough’ namely the recognition of individual dignity, a reconciled and sustainable community and the uplifting care of creation,” he added.

“Orthodox theology calls humanity to develop an ascetic ethos which implies moderation, sobriety and self-control,” said Archbishop Job of Telmessos from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who reflected from an Orthodox point of view. “The ascetic way of life promoted by Orthodox theology and spirituality suggests moderation, through the practice of fasting among many other things, as well as by cultivating a sense of solidarity for the entire creation,” added Archbishop Job.

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Official visit of the US Deputy Secretary of State to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mrs Wendy R. Sherman visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 29 May 2021 and was received with great honor. She was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Ankara, Mr. David Satterfield, and his associates. They were welcomed by the Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros, Archimandrite Grigorios, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, and the Grand Syncellus Iakovos. Afterwards, Mrs. Sherman, Mr. Satterfield and their companions visited the patriarchal church.

Afterwards, the high visitor was warmly welcomed by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who expressed his joy for her visit. Attending the meeting were Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and officials of the Patriarchate, Ambassador Satterfield and the Minister’s associates. They raised issues of common interest and referred to past patriarchal visits to the United States, as well as the forthcoming one to be held next October. The Patriarch also briefed Mrs. Sherman on the priorities and activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which, among other things, aim at the peace of the world. Finally, His All-Holiness wished Mrs. Sherman a safe and fruitful continuation of her visit in the coming days from Turkey to countries of the Far East.

For her part, the Minister spoke about her country’s interest in religious freedoms around the world and its respect for the historic institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its role today internationally.

Official visit of the President of Poland to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

On 25 May, 2021, the President of Poland, Mr Andrzej Duda was received with great honor at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the Phanar, in Istanbul. President Duda was accompanied by the First Lady Mrs. Agata Kornhauser-Duda, Ministers and other senior officials of his country. He was welcomed by the Very Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros, accompanied by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Gregory, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, and the clergy of the Patriarchal Court. Afterwards, President Duda, his wife and the members of his Delegation prayed in the Patriarchal Church where they were guided by the Very Reverend Grand Ecclesiarch Aetios, Director of the Private Patriarchal Office who presented its history as well as the holy relics and icons kept in it. Special mention was made of the holy relics of Saints John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian, which were returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2004 by Pope John Paul II of Polish descent, who before his election in 1978, served for fifteen years as Archbishop of Krakow, the city where President Duda was born.

Afterwards, the Very Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros accompanied the distinguished delegation to the Eugenides Palace, where in the auditorium it was received and welcomed by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who expressed his pleasure for the visit of the President of Poland, whom he had officially visited a few years ago in Warsaw. Their cordial special meeting was also attended by His Eminence Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, the Very Grand Protosyncellus Theodoros and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Gregory, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod.

His All-Holiness and President Duda discussed the ministry, initiatives and actions of the Ecumenical Throne, the state of Orthodoxy in the world as well as the developments of inter-Christian dialogue. His All-Holiness referred to the important contribution of the Orthodox Church of Poland, who was granted the status of autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1924, and recalled with emotion his visit to Warsaw in 2015, when, at the invitation of His Beatitude Metropolitan Savva of Warsaw and all Poland, he laid the foundation stone of the majestic church of the Divine Wisdom, which recalls the long and indestructible ties of the daughter Church of Poland with the Mother Church of Constantinople. They also had the opportunity to discuss issues of wider interest, such as the Ecumenical Throne initiatives to raise global public awareness of the need to preserve the creation and the protection of the natural environment, but also the importance of Christian values ​​and traditions in shaping of modern societies.

Afterwards, the President and the First Lady of Poland signed the Guestbook of the Patriarchate, where, in their text, they point out, among other things, the importance of interfaith dialogue, especially in the modern world, for unity and the promotion of peace. They are also proud to say that the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland is an active community in their country that participates in its social life and acts by the principles and values ​​that witness the universality of Christianity. The Ecumenical Patriarch accompanied the President of Poland to the main gate of ​​the Patriarchate on his departure from the Phanar and thanked him for his honorary visit to the Center of Orthodoxy.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate was visited by the Co-Chair of COVAX

The Ecumenical Patriarchate was visited on 22 May, 2021, by Her Excellency Dr. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chairman of the Board of COVAX, an abbreviation for COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO). It is one of the three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, an initiative begun in April 2020 by the WHO, the European Commission and the government of France as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVAX coordinates international resources to enable low-to-middle-income countries equitable access to COVID-19 tests, therapies and vaccines.

Ms. Zacharopoulou was warmly received by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with whom she had a long discussion on issues related to world health and in particular the mechanism for equal access to vaccination to protect citizens from poor countries. In this regard, she expressed the belief that a joint appeal by Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and other religious leaders to the heads of states and governments of the G-20 countries to raise awareness would be useful.

His All-Holiness congratulated Ms. Zacharopoulou on this important initiative, stressing, at the same time, that a similar statement has already been recently signed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the central message “no one is safe until we are all safe”. Present also at the meeting was His Eminence Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the virtual ecumenical prayer at the European Parliament

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) held an online Ecumenical Prayer for Christian Unity and for the Future of Europe on Friday 21 May 2021 under the theme “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”. The event, hosted by Ms Patrizia Toia, Member of the European Parliament, was an occasion to pray and reflect on the European values of peace and justice, and the role of the European Churches – especially amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The prayer was led by the Presidents of COMECE and CEC, His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich and Reverend Christian Krieger, who highlighted the importance of unity in challenging times. They prayed together to overcome divisions and foster reconciliation across Europe. The participants emphasised the significance of the Charta Œcumenica – Guidelines for the Growing Cooperation among Churches in Europe on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, affirming the role of this landmark document in developing fellowship among European Churches. The event featured a special message from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which reads as follows:

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew honored the victims of the Chernobyl disaster

On the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew honored the victims of the tragedy and urged them not to forget its lessons in a special video address to the discussion of the Kyiv Security Forum, organized by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation Open Ukraine. According to him, the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes during the 1950s and 1960s was a promising hope for humanity, but “the dreadful Chernobyl accident reminded us all how premature and impetuous was such an attitude and expectation.” In this regard, Patriarch Bartholomew stressed that humanity should never forget the tragic consequences of its own failures and learn to say “no” to technologies with harmful effects on the environment.

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986, at the No. 4 reactor  in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of Ukraine. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history both in terms of cost and casualties, and is one of only two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven — the maximum severity — on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. 

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