CONSTANTINOPLE – Deputy Foreign Minister Antonis Diamataris, whose responsibilities include ecclesiastical affairs abroad, visited for the first time since assuming his new duties His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Phanar.
In his welcoming remarks to Mr. Diamataris, Ecumenical Patriarch Barholomew said, “we are very pleased to welcome you today to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We have old ties and an old sincere and genuine friendship, and I am sure that with your new responsibilities you will always be close to the Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as much as you have been active in America, the largest Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to which, as you know, we have recently sent a worthy new Archbishop. You know him and love him and appreciate him, and with the cooperation of all of us, institutions and officials, we wish the best possible outcome for the Mother Church, for our Genos and for the great Eparchy of the Throne in America.”
And His All- Holiness continued: “You have within your purview and responsibility Hellenism abroad. Of course, we, here in Constantinople, are not expatriates, we have been native here for ages, but in the exercise of your responsibilities for the rest of the places in the world where expatriates live, we wish you strength to inspire them, to support them as they live in foreign environments, and to help them keep the traditions of our Genos and our Orthodox Church. Because you are so close to the Church, I am sure you will achieve this, that is, to inspire them and to keep them firm and stable in the traditions of our forefathers.”
The Patriarch continued, saying, “I mentioned America, but as it is known, in both Australia and Great Britain the Ecumenical Patriarchate selected and sent new and worthy Shepherds (Archbishops). I am sure they will work with you and you with them for the good of Hellenism everywhere. I wish you now all the good things of God, power and inspiration, as well as good health and courage, to travel and meet with our expatriate brothers.”
The Deputy Foreign Minister expressed the respect of the Greek State, as well as his own personal respect, to the Ecumenical Patriarch. He also stated the continuing interest of his government in the centuries-old institution of the First-Throne Church of Constantinople.
Diamataris, responding to Patriarch Bartholomew said, “Your All-Holiness, it is an honor and a blessing for me to be here as a representative not only for the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but also as the Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for issues of Hellenism Abroad and the Churches outside Greece,” recalling his longstanding acquaintance and friendship with His All-Holiness. Diamataris added that, “on behalf of the Prime Minister of Greece, I want you to know that you have his full love, respect, and support. The government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is very aware of your role and the international influence of your personality, and the least we can do is stand at your side.”
Referring to Archbishop Elpidophoros, the new Archbishop of America, Diamataris said that “he was the most suitable person to be chosen by the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” and he likewise characterized as excellent the Hierarchs who were chosen to shepherd the important Eparchies of Great Britain and Australia.
During their cordial meeting, which lasted more than an hour, the Deputy Foreign Minister wanted to be informed about issues of concern to the Mother Church, the Greek Community and the Orthodox community in Turkey in general, as well as about issues related to the Ecumenical ministry of the Patriarchate.
Diamataris was accompanied by Konstantinos Alexandris, the Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Religious and Consular Affairs, as well as Emmanuel Koubarakis and the Consul General of Greece in Constantinople Georgia Sultanopoulou. Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianopolis and Konstantinos Delikostandis, Archon Didaskalos tou Genous and Professor Emeritus at the University of Athens, were also present on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Diamataris also visited the magnificent Agia Sophia Church, Greek Schools, and officials of the Greek Community of Constantinople.