WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on October 20 led 48 of their Senate colleagues in writing a bipartisan letter requesting President Joe Biden to receive His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew next week in a manner befitting the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian church in the world. His All Holiness’ trip to Washington comes during the 30th anniversary year of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch.
“We appreciate the fact that His All Holiness is a world-leading advocate for interfaith dialogue and peace,” the senators wrote, specifically commending his historic dialogue and prayer for peace with Pope Francis at Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem in 2014 and noting the high regard within which the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is held as a preeminent international environmental leader. “This visit is an excellent opportunity for our Congress and your Executive Branch to follow in the Ecumenical Patriarch’s footsteps and demonstrate our mutual desire for the spirit of peace and cooperation.”
The senators also lauded President Biden’s previous exceptional welcome of His All Holiness in 2009 in addition to his assistance in securing His All Holiness’ Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor, in 1997.
Joining Chairman Menendez and Senator Rubio in signing the letter were Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
With our many constituents in the Orthodox Christian community across the country, we are looking forward to your welcome of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the last week of October, 2021. We are hopeful that this trip to Washington, D.C. will be met in the extraordinary manner and appropriate protocol with which you hosted him as Vice President in 2009. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch. As you know, an exceptional welcome is appropriate for the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian Church in the world and a person of his many valuable accomplishments.
We appreciate the fact that His All Holiness is a world-leading advocate for interfaith dialogue and peace. We value his historic dialogue and prayer for peace with Pope Francis at Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem in 2014. As you know, this brotherly gathering was appropriate as the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Pope are the brother-Apostles Andrew and Peter’ 268th and 265th direct successors, respectively. We know that Peter began his Church and ministry in Rome and Andrew began his in what is today Turkey, the locale of His All Holiness’ headquarters and Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We admire the high regard within which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is held as a preeminent international environmental leader, sometimes known as the “Green Patriarch.” We are pleased that his recognitions include our Congress’ highest honor – the Congressional Gold Medal – which we understand you helped secure in 1997.
This visit is an excellent opportunity for our Congress and your Executive Branch to follow in the Ecumenical Patriarch’s footsteps and demonstrate our mutual desire for the spirit of peace and cooperation. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.