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Theodoros II Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, is visiting the United States and on October 8 he was presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award by the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America at the annual Archon banquet.
In the presence of a multitude of Archons, hierarchs, and prominent members of the Greek-American community, the Archons recognized the faith in practice, the philanthropic contributions of the Patriarch of Alexandria, who has undertaken a difficult task in in Africa, a sensitive but historic continent for the Greek Orthodox Church.
Those in attendance, among others, where the ambassador of Greece in Washington, Alexandra Papadopoulou, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Konstantinou, the Consul in New York Dimitrios Papageorgiou, and the Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus Michalis Fyrillas.
Congresspersons Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Nicole Malliotakis of New York, the ambassador of Greece to the UN, Maria Theofili, Demetrios, the former Archbishop of America, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Consultant to the Publishers the National Herald Antonis H. Diamataris with his wife, Litsa, and the Consul General of Panama Georgia Athanasopoulou were also in attendance.
“Defender of Human Freedom”
In his video message, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew emphasized that “rightfully and rightly” the Order of Saint Andrew honors the Patriarch of Africa, Mr. Theodoros, also focusing on the stance he took in recognizing the Autocephaly of Ukraine.”
Patriarch Bartholomew stated that it was a “resounding response to ‘those who ignore the moral principles of Orthodoxy,'” adding that Patriarch Theodoros is “an authentic defender of human freedom.”
In his own greeting Archbishop Elpidophoros praised Patriarch Theodoros, initially focusing on his “support for the Mother Church of Constantinople” but also for his vision for the Church of Africa, and also recalling his immediate recognition of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine. He added that Patriarch Theodoros is fighting his own war with Russia, specifically against the Russian Orthodox Church, which is trying to encroach on his jurisdiction in Africa, a fact that all the speakers pointed out.
“On behalf of this gathering and the Archdiocese of America, I express from the bottom of my heart congratulations on all your achievements,” said Elpidophoros.
After the presentation of a video about the work of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons, announced that Patriarch Theodoros II was the recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, prompting great applause.
After receiving the Award from Dr. Limberakis and Archbishop Elpidophoros, Patriarch Theodoros II, with emotional intensity and great sincerity, and choosing to speak Greek, to better express himself, offered an instructive speech that moved the audience. It was a presentation, he said, at the start, that “is dedicated to all those who fight day and night near me.”
The Patriarch went on to give an extensive description of the inequalities, poverty, and the constant struggle for justice and even survival, which is ongoing in Africa. Indeed he addressed the global fight for social justice and against racism waged in the past by men like Nelson Mandela, who fought against Apartheid, and the fight against racism on every part of the Earth, including the United States, noting the efforts of Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America of blessed memory.
“My children,” he declared, “before you is Theodoros II. Crete gave birth to me, but Africa won me. When I leave, I will set aside this [fancy] cassock and I will put on my wooden cross and run with my wooden walking stick. I will go to the Congo in a wooden boat splashed with mud. I will see [needy] faces in front of me in places like Madagascar, where I asked myself ‘isn’t there a pair of shoes for these children? But I nevertheless saw happy eyes.”
$200,000 Was Raised
The Greek-American community did not remain unmoved before the account great struggle of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, donating a significant amount of money.
In particular, Dr. Limberakis handed the Patriarch of Alexandria a check for $100,000 in order to cover the increased needs of the Greek Orthodox churches in Africa. A little later, the Vice-President of the Archdiocesan Council, John Catsimatidis, took the podium and announced that his foundation is also donating the same amount, then inviting those present in the room to donate in turn to strengthen the Greek Orthodox mission in Africa.
“Please contribute to help these children and the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Be sure that, when you go to sleep, your heart will feel better,” he said.
Afterwards, Patriarch Theodoros warmly thanked everyone for their contributions, and he also presented medals to Archbishop Elpidophoros and Dr. Limberakis, while also offering symbolic gifts: a gondola to the Spiritual Advisor of the Order of St. Andrew, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Fr. Alexandros Karloutsos and an eagle to John Catsimatidis.
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