MEDFORD, Mass. – His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France participated recently in in high level conference on migration at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Metropolitan Emmanuel is one of the most prominent and well known hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne and the most closed confidant and associate of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The patriarch sends him to the most high and serious ecclesiastical missions.
In an exclusive interview with The National Herald, Metropolitan Emmanuel said that “the Conference was about migration in Europe and in the broaden area. It was the third such Conference that was organized under the section Religion and Security.”
Emmanuel also said that “other denominations participated as well such as Roman Catholics and Protestants.
The issue what is the role of religion in approaching the topic of migration was discussed and how can we help as Churches.”
He added that “I emphasized that the Orthodox Church has played and plays a pivotal role in dealing with the migration issue. I made reference of the initiative of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who along with Pope Francis and His Beatitudes Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens visited the island of Lesbos last April, which was an initiative that shoed exactly the concern of the Churches about the migration issue.”
Emmanuel emphasized that “we condemn every form of violence and every form of military operation, because the cause of all bad things in Syria is the war. We want to believe that an agreement will be reached to cease the war. The flowing of the migrants can’t be stopped. Today there are three million refugees in Turkey and I hope a way will be found so that they return to their hometowns.”
Asked if France has refugees, Emmanuel said that “yes there are, but Germany has accepted the most.”
Emmanuel loves Boston because he studied at the Holy Cross Theological School. He said that “Boston is a very nice city with great tradition; it is the Athens of America.”
He praised the Greek-American community, saying “it has contributed so much and continues to contribute to Greece and to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has expressed and continues to show great respect, admiration and love for our Church here in the United States.”
The Metropolis of France was established in 1963 when it was detached from the Archdiocese of Thyatira and Greta Britain. It is comprised by thirty parishes. The first parish was established in 1824.
The Metropolis of France according to Emmanuel “is sustained like the Archdiocese and the Metropolises in America from the donations and contributions of the faithful. Some of the priests have other professions also and they serve the parishes on Sundays and great Feast Days.”
He said that “we have second, third, and fourth generations”. As far as the use of Greek in the Liturgy, Emmanuel said “of course we keep the Greek; we use Greek by some eighty present in the Divine Liturgy but we preach in both Greek and France. We have Greek schools. The majority of the teachers come from Greece.”
Metropolitan Emmanuel emphasized that “without the Greek Language we cannot continue to call ourselves Greek Orthodox. I say all the time and in every occasion that the Jews were able to survive after so many persecutions and to create again a State because they sustained two elements their religion and language.”
He stated strongly that “if we lose the Greek language we will lose our identity.” He added that “if someone was born France I will not impose on him the Greek language because we are chauvinists. But if someone who has Greek roots I would like him to learn the Greek language without changing the character of our assimilation into the society in which we live in, because Greek-Orthodoxy has never created a ghetto.”
Metropolitan Emmanuel had played a pivotal role in the organization and execution of the Holy and Great Council (HGC) of the Orthodox Church, which was convened in Crete last June. He praised the Greek-American community for its immense contribution.
He said “I have to tell you that without the contribution of the Greek-American community in terms of finances and also human presence we couldn’t achieve what was achieved.”
He said that “it was a unique and historic milestone in the life of the Orthodox Church. It was a dream of all of us and especially of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who believed in it.”