On Monday, October 23, 2021 His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was joyously welcomed by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The Ecumenical Patriarch, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide, started his 12-day official visit in Washington, DC.
Also in attendance to greet His All-Holiness and the Official Delegation were, according to State Department Protocol, His Excellency Marios Lysiotis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States; His Excellency Arthur Sinodinos OA, Ambassador of Australia to the United States; Her Excellency Alexandra Papadopoulou, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the United States; Her Excellency Oksana Markarova Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States; members of the Holy Eparchial Synod; and clergy and faithful from the D.C. area and around the country. The Official Visit, postponed from May 2020 because of the global pandemic, is His All-Holiness’ first visit to the United States since 2009.
At an official ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel His All-Holiness offered greetings stating, “With a heart filled with gratitude and great enthusiasm, we speak words of blessing and benediction for all of you, and for the great American Nation. It has been twelve years since we last visited the Holy Archdiocese of America, her devout clergy and the many friends in government that have become close to us during our Thirty-Year Patriarchal tenure.
"We begin again, as we did in 1997, and we come with the same message we imparted on that day, October Nineteenth: “We come to you in love, beholding you as the newly planted branch of the ancient vine of Christ’s first called disciple Saint Andrew. You, our most beloved daughters and sons, have transplanted the faith of the Apostles upon this blessed continent. America recognizes your deep commitment to living that faith fully, for she has enshrined in her Constitution the fundamental principles upon which the lasting qualities of the Church are founded.” (Full text www.goarch.org/-/2021-10-23-greeting-hah-arrival-usa)
In his welcome to His All-Holiness Archbishop Elpidophoros stated, “We, the devout children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, welcome You with open hearts into our midst for the seventh time in Your historic and renowned Patriarchal ministry...We are overcome with deep emotion and much joy, because we behold in Your venerable person the embodiment of the Holy Great Church of Christ, which You have now led for thirty years — the longest Patriarchal tenure in history. Indeed, we await with great eagerness Your sage guidance, paternal wisdom and wise Patriarchal counsel, as we strive to live the life of our Orthodox Christian faith in the very heart of America. The coming days will certainly hold many experiences that we will all cherish, and which will inform our vision of the life of Christ in this land.
“We look to You, then, Your All-Holiness, to show us the way, and to give to us a renewed and inspired vision for the faith of the saints and the Apostles that You know so well.” (Full Text www.goarch.org/-/2021-10-23-welcome-archbishop-elpidophoros-to-ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-to-usa)
On Sunday, October 24, 2021 immediately prior to departing for the service at the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew felt unwell — due to the long flight and full schedule of events upon arrival. His doctor advised that out of an abundance of caution he should be taken to the George Washington University Hospital for observation. At the doctors’ recommendation, he spent the night in the hospital for monitoring.
While His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew remained hospitalized, His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon presided over the Pan-Orthodox Liturgy at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC on October 24, 2021, inducting the Inaugural class of Senators for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.
During the service, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, who instituted the Senators in 2020, stated: “Your Eminence, these devout men and women before You today are stewards of varying ministries within the Church. But all have produced ‘a hundredfold’ through their harvests of leadership. They bow their heads to receive Your blessing for them to continue their service to this Eparchy and to the Great Church of Christ. As they serve in a capacity as ex-officio members of the Archdiocesan Council, their counsel and guidance are invaluable. We humbly ask that You bestow upon them your archpaternal benediction, so that in good health and spiritual prosperity, they may continue to minister to the Body of Christ.”
Also in attendance at the Service and Induction were Metropolitan Iosif of Proikonissos, Metropolitan Ioustinos of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, Metropolitan Antony of Ierapoli (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA) Metropolitan Ilia of Philomelion (Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America), Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa (Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church of the USA), Metropolitan Joseph (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America), Bishop Irinej (Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America) and Bishop Saba (Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America). After the Divine Liturgy, a Pan-Orthodox Luncheon was held at the Cathedral Hall.
On Monday, October 25, 2021 His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was released from George Washington University Hospital where he spent a night on medical advice. He resumed the schedule of his Apostolic Visit.
Events and meetings of the day included a meeting with President Joseph Biden at the White House; a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department; and a visit to the Turkish Embassy at the invitation of Turkish Ambassador to the US, Hasan Murat Mercan. His All-Holiness delivered a speech for the Museum of the Bible via videoconference, during which he stated: “Chairman Green, Chief Executive Officer Hargrove, Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Honored Guests,
Upon the recommendation of our doctors, we are unable to be physically present with you today at the Museum of the Bible, in order to behold and admire your reverence for the Holy Scripture of our shared Christian Faith. Nevertheless — thanks to modern technology — we are still able to marvel at the imagination you have employed in this House of the Muses that graces the Capital City of the United States.
As we address you, the Museum of the Bible manifests the love for the words of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, and His Holy Prophets. These life-giving “words of eternal life,” which “never pass away,” are most certainly deserving of this shrine, which you have raised up to the glory of God.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople represents the memory of the Church, not only from the doctrinal and constitutional side of the Holy Tradition of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but also from that which bears witness through Sacred Scripture. All of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse are within our sphere. Furthermore, our continuous memory has allowed us to share with the world the Scripture as it was used in worship – in liturgy, and in its original language.
The public reading of these lectionary texts during the Divine Liturgy created a centripetal, binding force, that shaped the texts of the New Testament in particular. The lection pulls them together, because as the Apostle Paul says: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
It is our hope that this Museum, made possible by the magnanimous generosity of the Green Family, and by the innumerable talents enlisted to create such a marvelous space, will bring about a resurgence in the reading of the Holy Scripture, and the faith in our Lord that comes from it.
We thank you for the gracious welcome that you have personally extended to our honorable entourage, and we invoke upon you and your families, as well as all of your co-workers here at the Museum of the Bible, the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, marvelously witnessed in the Holy Scriptures.”
In the evening, the Ecumenical Patriarch will attend a dinner at Georgetown University hosted by its President, John J. DeGioia, and Wilton Cardinal Gregory of Washington, DC.
Photos by Dimitrios S. Panagos
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America