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Ecumenical Patriarch: Our Patriarchate insists on living, on radiating throughout the Ecumenical world

In a festive atmosphere, the great Feast of the Divine Transfiguration of Christ the Saviour was celebrated on the island Proti of the Princes’ Islands, where His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, August 6, 2023, in the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Transfiguration of the island.

A group of Archons of the Ecumenical Throne and Greek-American faithful from the United States, Mr. Theophilos Georgakis, Consul of Greece in Constantinople, and a large number of faithful were in attendance. The Divine Word was preached by the Tritevon Kallinikos.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch blessed, according to tradition, the grapes, which he distributed to the faithful after the Dismissal.

Afterwards, a small festive event took place with the children of the camp as “protagonists”, during which the Patriarch was welcomed by Maria Apostolidou, President of the Board of the Children’s Village and the Neanidos Worker’s Home, and Archon Adamantios Komvopoulos, Director of the Camp.

In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch praised and thanked all those who work for the hospitality of the children of the Greek Diaspora, and expressed his joy that during the first camping period, children from the Romanian Diaspora spent their holidays for the second time, while soon children from the hard-pressed Ukraine, who currently live in the Metropolis of Bursa, will be hosted.

Addressing the children, the Ecumenical Patriarch advised them paternally and implored them to live their lives close to the Church and to nourish themselves with its faith and hope. “Rejoice in the Divine Liturgies, the feasts, experience its ethos and culture. Never forget that faith in Christ is a source of freedom, creativity, humanity, and joy,” the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed, and then referred to the advice he had given him during his ordination as a deacon on August 13, 1961, the Metropolitan who ordained him and his spiritual father, the then Metropolitan Meliton of Imbros and Tenedos, who, using the words of the Gospel passage from the Transfiguration of the Saviour, urged him not to see, not to follow anyone else in his life, but only Jesus. “Our whole life has been an effort to apply this exhortation of our Elder,” the Ecumenical Patriarch added.

Then, he expressed his joy for the presence of the group of the Archons of the Great Church of Jesus Christ, and other pilgrims from the USA, in the context of a pioneering initiative put under the auspices of the Order of St. Andrew, in order to strengthen the ties of the youth of the USA Diaspora with the venerable Centre of the Mother Church. For this purpose, five young men and women traveled with them from America and were received by the Ecumenical Patriarch last Friday, August 4, with whom they had the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them and to receive his Patriarchal blessing.

Addressing the pilgrims from the United States, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his joy at their presence and asked them, when they return to America, to convey to Archbishop Elpidophoros, “their new, dynamic and hard-working Shepherd”, to the other Archons, headed by Archon Dr. Anthony Lymperakis, to their Communities, and to all the community, “the affection, the blessings, the love of all of us from Constantinople, led by the Patriarch”.

And the Ecumenical Patriarch continued: “We are thinking of you, Archons and dear pilgrims from America, we are grateful for what you are thinking and doing for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, we count on you and your support. You know that political circumstances have shrunk the Constantinople Diaspora, we are left very few, but as Patriarch Athenagoras used to say, “and countless!” Few and innumerable. Because with us are the souls of countless souls who lived in these places, around the Centre of Orthodoxy, around our Patriarchate, which, despite all these external changes and circumstances, insists on living, on radiating throughout the entire World, 17 whole centuries we have been here and no one can move us.”

Concluding his speech, the Patriarch thanked again the Director of the Camp and the Board of Directors of the Children’s Village for the work they do, as well as all the donors, who support its operation, and welcomed with warm words the new Consul of Greece, Georgakis.

“We are experiencing the horrendous and so far unending war in Ukraine”

On the eve of the feast, the Ecumenical Patriarch presided at the Holy Vespers at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour on the island of Antigone in the Princes’ Islands.

In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch, after referring to the event of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, noted:

“The mission of each one of us is not only to theorise and isolate, to experience the Transfiguration in our own lives but also to transmit it to our neighbour. This is both the message and the invitation of today’s feast to the Church: in our modern age of rapid transformations of all kinds and of all natures, there is an urgent appeal to the Church to transform the world.

However, in order for the Church to succeed in this mission and for our world to experience the true transformation in Christ the Church must also appear “in a new form”, as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. And we are not referring here only to the necessity of the inter-Christian dialogue “for the sake of the unity of all”, but mainly to the stability of Orthodoxy.

What is the image of the Orthodox Church today? What is its common witness and ministry in the modern world?

We are witnessing the atrocious and so far endless war in Ukraine, where an Orthodox state is fighting, with the paternal and patriarchal blessings of the official Church, another brotherly Orthodox people. And you understand that I am talking about Patriarch Kirill of Russia, who blesses with both hands this abominable, evil war, instead of condemning it. We are witnessing the intrusion, against all sense of ecclesiastical legitimacy, of an Orthodox Church, and again the Russian Church, into the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

For almost five years we have been tasting the ingratitude of the unilateral interruption of communion on the part of a daughter Church, not for doctrinal reasons, but clearly for geopolitical reasons, dressed, in fact, recently with the cloak of incoherent and insulting accusations against the Church of Constantinople, accusations of “ecclesiological heresy”! Let those who say these things against our Patriarchate see, as the Gospel says, the beam that is in their eye, and let them leave our own beam, which is much smaller, if there is one at all, in the face of their own beam that has made them unable to see reality.

In the above theologically unsound, ecclesiologically unsubstantiated, and canonically unacceptable claims, the Holy Church of Christ, the Church of the Cross, the Church of the Resurrection, and the Church of the Transfiguration continue steadfastly to uphold the word of truth. The love of the Mother Church never falls away!”

In his speech, he congratulated the new Church Committee of the Community under the Archon of the Great Church of Christ Anthony Parizianos, and wished “fruitful work and good strength in its responsible duties, always under the guidance and paternal support of your Shepherd, Elder Metropolitan Dimitrios of the Princes’ Islands”.

Previously, the Ecumenical Patriarch was welcomed by Antonis Parizianos, who referred to the various difficulties that the Community of Antigone has to face for the maintenance and preservation of the Community property.

After Vespers, the Ecumenical Patriarch celebrated a Trisagion in the adjacent Cemetery for the repose of the souls of the late pastoral leaders of the Princes’ Islands, the parish priests of the Community, and the deceased residents of the island.


More photos: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate