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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: There is the Einstein of physics, but not of freedom and responsibility

On Friday afternoon, 17 May 2024, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended the award ceremony for postgraduate students of Greek Diaspora origin at the Great Patriarchal School of the Nation. There, he also delivered a speech as part of the “Honouring our Teachers of Constantinople” Program, an initiative spearheaded by Byron Nikolaidis, founder and president of the PeopleCert Group.

In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated Nikolaidis on the program, held for the second consecutive year, and all the participants of the event. He pointed out:

“There is a strong symbolism behind this ceremony that takes place at the historic Great Patriarchal School of the Nation. Thanks to this School and the steadfast support of this invaluable spiritual asset by the Great Church of Christ, our education was revitalised following the Fall of Constantinople, among other things.

We are deeply moved by the recognition bestowed upon three late professors of our Diaspora schools today, as scholarships are established and awarded in their honour: Vasileios Kasapidis, Dimitrios Pantelaras, who were also our esteemed teachers, and Professor Aristi Kimiatzi, representing the field of natural sciences.

We take immense satisfaction and pride in the postgraduate students who have been awarded scholarships and honorary distinctions by the Evaluation Committee of the Scholarship Program, chaired by Professor Georgios Doukidis of the Athens University of Economics and Business.

Today’s event is a celebration of education. In Greek antiquity, education was described as the “roaming” of the soul toward the good, as Plato noted in the Republic (518d). This concept served as a guide not only to understand what man is but also to aspire to what he ought to be. This ideal of what man “should be” encompasses and persists in integrating scientific knowledge and values that form the essence of humanism. We know today that it is easier to acquire scientific knowledge than moral and intellectual culture and education. There is the Einstein of physics, but not of freedom and responsibility!

Therefore, the education of the new generation is rightly characterised as one of the most difficult problems that we are called upon to solve. Based on this foundation, we grasp the resilience and magnificence of those who championed the cause of the education of the Nation, firmly believing in the inseparable unity of classical and religious education, recognising how they mutually embrace and enhance one another.

The Patriarch then stressed:

“Those who dismiss spiritual and religious education, including the fundamentalists of secularism, as well as those who oppose science and secular education in the name of religious faith, are veering off course. Science does not give answers to the existential problems of human beings, nor does spirituality solve the practical problems of life. Education fulfills its mission of humanisation when, beyond imparting utilitarian knowledge, it instils vital spiritual and moral values. Knowledge and faith are not adversaries but allies in the life of humanity. Just as genuine faith in Christ does not entail rejecting the advancements of science, viewing faith as mere illusion or inward withdrawal does not reflect the essence of science.

We are confident that in the future, within a global landscape dominated by the twin pillars of science and technology, individuals will persist in seeking meaning in life, heeding the call from above, and finding inspiration in art and the profound truths that underlie existence. -“for the truth is deep down”, they will require the guidance of religion, philosophy, and art to navigate the profound existential dilemmas that lie ahead. And there will always be teachers and authentic educators who, through their own example, will instil in young minds the appreciation for life’s essentials and critical aspects, guiding them towards responsibility, and selflessness. They will illuminate the path towards the “culture of the person,” emphasising life as a journey of self-transcendence and meaningful relationships.

In this spirit, we once again call upon the young individuals who were honoured today.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch also highlighted the special award established last year in his honour, which was bestowed upon the Greek newspapers “Apogevmatini,” “Echo,” and “Politis.”

The event featured addresses from Byron Nikolaidis, Founder and President of the PeopleCert Group, Dimitrios Zotos, Director of the Postgraduate Program, Nikolaos Ouzounoglou, President of the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans, Pavlos Pantelaras, Rika Bekiari-Pantelara, Director of the Zappeion Gymnasium-Lyceum, and Georgios Doukidis, Chairman of the Evaluation Committee of the Scholarship Program and Professor at the Athens University of Economics. The journalist Andreas Robopoulos served as the coordinator for the event.

Hierarchs of the Throne, clergy, Archons of the Great Church of Christ, as well as Ambassadors His Excellency Mr. Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece in Constantinople, and His Excellency Mr. Ioannis-Miltiadis Nikolaidis, Permanent Representative of Greece to NATO, were in attendance at the event.

Photos: Nikos Papachristou