CONSTANTINOPLE – United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar on Sunday, September. He was welcomed with the honors set forth in the Patriarchal Protocol.
Secretary Ross was accompanied by his wife and the new U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, David Satterfield, as well as by politicians and officials of the Commerce Department and other branches of the U.S. government, including James G. Rockas, Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning of the Department of Commerce, who facilitated the visit.
The American dignitary was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom he had a long discussion on the issues of the life and initiatives of the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Diaspora, and more generally, the Orthodox faithful in Turkey, as well as the question of the use of the former Orphanage of the Princes’ Islands. They also discussed Orthodoxy in the U.S. in light of the recent election of the new Archbishop, Elpidophoros of America, as well as the initiatives of the Mother Church in inter-Christian and interfaith dialogues, and its efforts to raise public awareness of the need to protect the natural environment.
The meeting was attended by Patriarchal Deacon Niphon, and by Professor Konstantinos Delikostantis and Lakis Vigas, both Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Immediately afterward, Secretary Ross and his entourage visited the Patriarchal Church of St. George and was informed of its history and about its relics by the Patriarchal Deacon Niphon.
On Sunday morning Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on the occasion of the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the renowned Holy Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos Palaiou Baniou of Diplokionion.
Following the dismissal, His All-Holiness was welcomed by Metropolitan Irenaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Overseer of the District of the Bosphoros, and Despina Filippou, former Director of the Zappeion School, on behalf of the ecclesiastical committee. In his homily, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the importance of the Feast and the relationship of Christians, and especially the faithful of the City of Constantinople, with the All-Holy Theotokos. He congratulated Metropolitan Irenaios, the parish priest of the Church, Archimandrite Kaisarios Chronis, and the members of the ecclesiastical committee for their efforts.