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Conference of Archons in Athens: “The Ecumenical Patriarch granted 43 million Ukrainians freedom of religion”

The first day of the 4th Conference of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Human Rights, Democracy, and Religious Freedom began with a speech by Dr. Anthony Limberakis, co-chair of the Conference. Dr. Limberakis highlighted the significance of hosting the Conference in Athens, specifically at the Ancient Agora, and emphasised Greece’s close ties with the diaspora and Orthodoxy.

Dr. Limberakis discussed the lack of democratic principles in countries like Russia and China, as well as regimes such as Turkey that restrict free expression. He stated, “We, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, stand here to bring these issues to the world’s attention.” He also mentioned that “The Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine, by signing the Tomos of Autocephaly, granted 43 million Ukrainians freedom of religion.” He condemned Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, noting Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself.

“We are gathered here for those who are persecuted and cannot freely exercise their religious rights,” stressed Dr. Limberakis. He reaffirmed the commitment to continue advocating for religious freedom for all denominations and people, asserting that “there is no freedom without democracy.”

Co-chair Mr. Athanasios Martinos also addressed the Conference, noting the critical timing of the event amidst significant conflicts in the region and beyond. “Today, Orthodox Christians of all ethnicities look to the Ecumenical Patriarch for comfort and hope. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the flock of the Ecumenical Patriarch has grown. The decision of Patriarch Bartholomew to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to Ukraine has been vindicated by events.”

Mr. Martinos also remarked on the consolidated position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey in recent years, boldly stating, “I dare to say that any European perspective of Turkey passes through the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”