NEW YORK – On March 18 a delegation of leaders of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate met via Zoom with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dr. Karen Donfried.
The Archon delegation included the Order of Saint Andrew’s chief officers, including Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander; the Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis, National Vice Commander; Father Alexander Karloutsos, the Spiritual Advisor of the Order; Andrew Manatos, Archon Regional Commander for Washington, D.C.; and Mike Manatos, Archon Government Affairs Committee Chairman.
The meeting lasted over thirty minutes and covered a wide range of issues, including the wisdom and courage of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin with regard to the rights of the Orthodox Christian Community in Ukraine. The Archons also highlighted the important work of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle in aiding and defending the Ecumenical Patriarchate and religious freedom in the United States and around the world. Secretary Donfried said she was honored to meet His All-Holiness in her first few days serving as Assistant Secretary, during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 25, 2021.
Secretary Donfried also noted that a number of other senior State Department officials have had an audience with His All-Holiness at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman; U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeffry Flake (just three days after he arrived to begin serving in Turkey); and most recently, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erika Olson on March 12.
Secretary of State Blinken visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate with then-Vice President Joe Biden, who was the first U.S. Vice President in history to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate twice.
The May 29, 2021 meeting between Deputy Secretary Sherman (the second highest ranking official at the State Department) and His All-Holiness focused upon issues of common interest and the priorities and activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Deputy Secretary spoke about the United States’ interest in religious freedom around the world and its respect for the historic institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including its international role today.
After Friday’s meeting, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs tweeted: “A/S Donfried was honored to speak today with Eastern Orthodox Church Archons leadership @OrderStAndrew to discuss our recent engagements with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. We deeply value our partnership with the Orthodox Christian community worldwide.”