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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: “Our Greek Orthodox tradition is a source of inspiration, existential enrichment and creativity”

On Tuesday, 11 June 2024, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George on the occasion of the commemoration of the Holy and Glorious Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, with the participation of the Grand Ecclesiarch Archimandrite Gregory.

Concelebrating with the Ecumenical Patriarch were their Eminences the Holy Hierarchs: Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon; Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi; Elder Metropolitan Dimitrios of the Princes’ Islands; Archbishop Sotirios of Canada; Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni; Metropolitan Makarios of Anea; Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia; Metropolitan Panteleimon of Xanthi, Metropolitan Eirinaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra, Metropolitan Theodoritos of Laodicea, Metropolitan Theoleptos of Iconium, Metropolitan Nektarios of Kerkyra, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras, Archbishop Evgenios of Crete, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea, Metropolitan Nathaniel of Kos and Nisyros, Metropolitan Dionysios of Zakynthos, Metropolitan Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Metropolitan Job of Pisidia, Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina, Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Andrianople, Metropolitan Apostolos of New Jersey, Metropolitan Ioustinos of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Symi, Metropolitan Nathaniel of Chicago, Metropolitan Myron of New Zealand, Metropolitan Ierotheos of Lemnos, Metropolitan Philotheos of Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymno and Avlopotamos, Metropolitan Iakovos of Ireland, Metropolitan Andreas of Forty Churches, Metropolitan Ioakeim of Bursa, and Metropolitan Theodore of Seleucia.

Photographs: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate

After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch was addressed by the His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, on behalf of the venerable Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne.

In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch warmly thanked the Elder Metropolitan of Chalcedon for “expressing the love and honour not only of those present but also of the brother Bishops who are praying from afar”. He also thanked all those who came to celebrate with him or sent him their congratulations. Referring to today’s feast of the Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, he pointed out, among other things, that the Apostles of the Lord “proclaimed the Gospel of salvation to the whole creation ‘with much patience… in sincere love, in the word of truth, in the power of God’ (2 Cor 6:4-7)”.

He then added: “The ‘apostolic work’ is at the heart of the Church’s life and identity. As declared by the Holy and Great Council of Orthodoxy (Crete 2016), it is ‘the breath of life that the Church breathes into human society, making the world a Church’ (Encyclical, § 6). As it is written, ‘the Church is light, and only that which is light is the Church’”.

This is the timeless mission of the Church of Christ. Of course, the times and the signs of the times change. Today the Church lives in a different world to which she must bear witness. It is a world that she cannot ignore or reject, nor, of course, can she adapt herself completely to it.

The two points of reference and orientation for the apostolic witness of the Church today remain, a) fidelity to the tradition of truth, which is not the past but a living and life-giving presence in the Church, or rather the very life of the Church, and b) the present historical and cultural realities and the signs of the times.

The Ecumenical Patriarch then addressed the younger generation:

“Addressing the new generation, we emphasise that our Greek Orthodox tradition is a source of inspiration, existential enrichment, and creativity. It sharpens our sense of truth and the meaning of sacrifice and service, of the high values that always presuppose self-transcendence and orientation toward the common good. Never in human history have spiritual values been taken for granted. This is a very timely observation today when there is a widespread belief that responsibility, freedom, justice, and peace will automatically result from the progress of science and technology, economic development, and on-line communication. The truth, however, is quite different.

At the end of his address, the Patriarch thanked the Holy Hierarchs, his co-workers, and all those who support the Mother Church. After the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch received in the Patriarchate the greetings and the festive gifts of the Venerable Hierarchy in Turkey, followed by the clergy and laity of the Patriarchal Court, led by the Grand Ecclesiastic Archimandrite Gregory, who addressed the Patriarch, and then who responded with paternal words of love and appreciation.

Afterwards, the monks of the Holy Monastery of the Venerable Forerunner Saint John the Baptist – Bigorski of the Archdiocese of Ohrid conveyed to the Ecumenical Patriarch the warm wishes and respect of their Abbot, His Grace Bishop Parthenios of Antania, and his brotherhood.

Afterwards, the shepherd of His All-Holiness’ birthplace, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos, and the High School of Imbros students expressed their wishes, respect, and gratitude to their compatriot, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

On the eve of the feast, the Ecumenical Patriarch received a delegation from the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Church of Crete, led by His Eminence Archbishop Evgenios of Crete, who conveyed the warm wishes of the local Cretan Hierarchy, clergy, and people.