ISTANBUL - His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew declared open this morning the Seminar on Religious Freedom Today celebrating the 1700th anniversary of the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan. The Seminar, organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), is being held in Istanbul (17-18 May) with the participation of international speakers and delegations representing the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church in the European continent. The seminar will explore the historical, legal and political aspects of religious freedom in Europe and throughout the world.
In his opening address Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stated, “The anniversary that we are celebrating and honoring provides occasion for us to consider and reflect on the development of the contemporary world 1700 years after the divinely-inspired Emperor established in action and legislation the fundamental principles, on which modern Christian societies – and by extension and analogy, the entire world – are based to this day.” He also reminded participants that “the basic human rights, for which all peoples and societies strive, but which are frequently perceived in a sense of retribution that does not resemble the spirit of the Gospel or Christianity, comprise spiritual values, which the Emperor Constantine planted within the governance and structure of his empire because he discerned and predicted that this was the only way of securing progress and preserving peace.”
His All-Holiness also stressed: “It is essentially the same values that the modern world has inherited, except that titles have been altered, while humanity now formally declares that it does not believe in God and the hour of Christianity has passed. Nevertheless, despite these cries, Christianity and the Truth are not only not out-dated, but have in fact increasingly matured.” He also added that, for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “faith is not a social phenomenon or mere ideology. It is the sanctifying grace, which descends upon us and visits us eternally and silently, … something discernible among those who obey God’s will but even recognizable among those who disobey his commandments. Despite frequent and dangerous reformations, which sometimes destroy the very foundations of society, such as a lack of respect for the sacred institution of family and marriage, the legal recognition and regulation of serious mortal sins or unnatural conditions, contemporary state institutions are deeply permeated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the blood of the Church Martyrs."
“This is why we Christians are not dragged down and do not despair. We know that people make mistakes in their judgments, thoughts, programs, ideologies and considerations. However, the Church does not; the Church is not abolished, even when Christian nations are dissolved, even when the Church lives and exists in (sometimes harsh) captivity, even when the Church is persecuted. The Church is in the world and serves the world, but it is not controlled by the world, which is the reason why evil does not affect it. The spirit conquers the flesh. Christ reigns forever. The Lord is victorious over all.”
Through a message from the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Francis sent his “fraternal good wishes to His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of the city founded by Constantine himself,” stressing that he is looking forward “in hope to the day when the divisions of the second millennium will be definitively consigned to the past.” Concerning the theme of the Seminar, For the rest of this News Release, visit the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Welcomes Ieronymos II
May 15, 2013
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Welcomes With Respect, Honor and Love the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II
BOSTON – His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece arrived today, shortly before 8 p.m. at Logan International Airport, beginning a visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on the occasion of the conferral upon him of an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The ceremony will take place during the School’s 2013 Commencement, Saturday May 18.
Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston were the first to welcome His Beatitude as he first stepped off the plane. They proceeded to a private airport room for a more formal welcome. Archbishop Ieronymos greeted everyone saying Christos Anesti, Christ is Risen! as he entered the room and was presented with flowers by three young girls from area parishes.
“It is a first welcome of love, honor and love for you, Your Beatitude,” said Archbishop Demetrios as he presented the visiting hierarch to those who had filled the room.
Archbishop Ieronymos in his reply to the warm welcome, said: “I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart by proclaiming again to you Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen! I would like to assure you that as we arrive today we are filled with joy and gratification and we firmly believe that when we leave our hearts will be even more content and replete with joy. Christ is Risen!”
Archbishop Demetrios presented the members of His Beatitude’s entourage which consists of His Eminence Metropolitan of Messinia Chrysostomos, His Grace Bishop Gavriel of Diavleia, Rev. Protopresbyter Adamantios Avgoustidis, Rev. Protopresbyter Stefanos Avramidis, Rev. Deacon Epiphanios Arvanitis and Mr. Demetrios Karanasos.
Among those present at the welcome were the Consul General of Greece in Boston Ifigeneia Kanaras; Rev. Fr. Nicholas Triantafillou, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology; Dr. Thomas Lelon, Vice-Chair of the School’s Board of Trustees; Rev. Dr. Thomas FitzGerald, Dean of Holy Cross; Rev. Fr. Theodore Barbas, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Boston; many members of the clergy and laity of the area, and students from Holy Cross, who also chanted the feme of the visiting Hierarch.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 16, 2013, Archbishop Ieronymos will visit the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston and the location of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, which took place a month ago. In the evening, Metropolitan Methodios will host a dinner in honor of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.