Friday, October 24, 2014

Day One of Patriarch John X's Visit to Greece

Yesterday, October 23, 2014, Patriarch John X began his official visit to Greece, the third of his official eirenical visits after those to Constantinople and Moscow.

Arabic version of this speech here. Video of Patriarch John delivering it in Greek here.

Patriarch John X's Words at the Prayer of Thanksgiving in Athens on October 23, 2014

Your Beatitude,
Brothers and loved ones,
I am happy to be among you.

This is a visit of peace, peace of the heart  from me to each one of you. Peace to you, Your Beatitude and brother bishops, in my name and in the name of the delegation accompanying me. Peace to you and through you to every individual and every place in Greece. Peace of love from the people of our lands that have been and continue to be wounded by the tumult of wars. Peace from your brothers, the faithful of the Church of Antioch. Peace from victims of kidnapping, martyrs and people expelled from their homes. Peace from our brothers and your brothers, the kidnapped bishops and priests of Aleppo. Peace and a prayer for your kind people and country. Peace of resurrection from the ashes of trial while at the very same time it is a peace of will, hope, determination and conviction that no power on this earth will uproot us from our land, that we cast all our hardships before the cross of our Savior and place them before His crown of thorns.

I have known you personally, Your Beatitude, and I have known you as a dear brother who has visited our Church and our monasteries at a time when many were leaving, during the last days of the reign of Patriarch Ignatius. I knew your predecessors Christodoulos and Seraphim of blessed memory. I received my theological education in your country. I lived in its monasteries and I saw how theology is leavened with the leaven of humility and becomes incarnate as love and prayer.

The Church of Greece has given much to the Church of Antioch She has welcomed many of our children, opening to them the doors of her institutes and universities and graduating from them priests and bishops to pastor Christ's people in their lands. The Church of Greece has especially accompanied Antiochian Orthodoxy's entrance into the modern era.

Balamand is the best evidence for this. The Institute of Theology was launched in 1970 and Antioch benefited from Greek expertise, entrusting leadership of the Institute to Metropolitan Pandeleimon Rhodopoulos. The Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology was tied to the Church of Greece which supported it with her best professors and with Greek language programs. The Greek government also contributed, granting our students the opportunity to come to study theology in the language of the fathers. All of this qualifies us to say that that which unites us to Greece as a country and people is a yearning for apostolic zeal for one, Catholic Orthodox faith, where ethnicities melt in the crucible of Orthodoxy and where different languages and customs are interwoven before the Eucharistic table and its Lord who spoke to us in the language of love.

In the language of love I close today by asking the mighty Lord to preserve you and to preserve Greece and her kind people and that He may take her leaders by the hand and guide them to what is good for her people.

I likewise ask Him to give the lands of Antioch peace so she might welcome you with her kind people who have been endowed with the love of the saints, the remembrance of the Apostles, and the achievements of martyrs, ancient and new.

Many years, Master.

Coverage of Patriarch John's day from by Emilios Polygeni. Go to the links for many pictures..

Greek original here.

Archbishop to Patriarch, "We welcome you as a brother and a witness"

Patriarch John of Antioch began his eirenical visit to the Church of Greece today October 23, 2014, arriving at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.

Patriarch John was welcomed at the airport by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Peristeri, president of the Synodal Commission for Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian Relations of the Church of Greece, a representative of the Greek government, the ambassador of Lebanon, and other church and civil officials.

Then, at 11:50 at the Church of Saint Andrew the First-Called, located on the grounds of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, a prayer of thanksgiving was celebrated for the arrival in Greece of Patriarch John of Antioch and his entourage.

The Archbishop welcomed the Patriarch and others and said, "We welcome you as a brother and as a witness who is to give a Christian witness, an Orthodox witness, a witness of faith."

Archbishop Ieronymos also said, "You are with us here today at a time of persecution, of abuse of human rights, to declare to civilized Europe and international organizations that that you are still on your feet and you have not lost your faith in Christ, that Antioch and Damascus continue to shine out into the world."

The Archbishop concluded, "The Athens of the saints, of the martyrs and heroes, welcomes you as an angel of peace, as a witness to Christ, and as a fighter for the saints and heroes, our Christian brothers, our brothers in the Middle East."

Greek original here

Archbishop Ieronymos, "National bonds are good, but what unites us is Christ"

Patriarch John of Antioch has just visited Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens. The primate of the Church of Antioch was warmly welcomed by Archbishop Ieronymos, who received him in his office. There the Archbishop welcomed the Patriarch, stressing, among other things, "I welcome you to Greece and to the Holy Archdiocese of Athens."

Then the Patriarch of Antioch reported on relations between the two churches and the difficulties experienced in Syria. For his part, Archbishop Ieronymos said, "Your visit brings us a message that love is not something theoretical. Rather, love is actions. It is experience and that is exactly what we we fell right now, that we are one family."

"National bonds are good and we do not deny them, but above all else we have the One who unites us, Jesus Christ. All other things are ideologies. Ideologies come and go, creating huge problems. Our faith, our Christianity, our love, our fathers, what they taught us is the experience of the Church and it is precisely what we are living right now," the Archbishop added.

In conclusion, Archbishop Ieronymos said, "We want to thank you for traveling from your region, which is experiencing a great hardship at this time, but we here are also experiencing difficulties of another form."

Finally it should be noted that Patriarch John of Antioch signed the guest-book.

Greek original here.

The Patriarch of Antioch at the Areios Pagos

His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, who is making an official irenical visit to the Church of Greece, has just visited the Areios Pagos. The Primate of the Church of Antioch came to the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and his entourage. There Patriarch John went up the Hill of Pnyx and toured the site where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians.

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