General News

Past Secretary of State Pompeo Addresses Archon Conference in Athens

ATHENS – The sessions and luncheon of the second day of the 4th International Conference on Religious Freedom presented by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of America, Canada, Australia and Europe were held at the iconic Zappeion Megaron in Athens on May 28. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was the keynote speaker of the afternoon session.

The morning gathering ended with a special official vote of the assembled Archons on a motion requested by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America expressing concern regarding recent violations of the religious freedom of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Authorities in Pristina recently barred Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia and seven accompanying bishops from entering Kosovo and Metohija to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchate of Peć.

After the Archbishop expressed “the deep concern of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew” the Archons passed the motion unanimously.
The theme of the morning session was ‘How is Freedom of Religion or Belief Related to Current Global Trends and Humanitarian Need’ and the Convener was Constantine Sideridis, Archon Proto Notarios. Dr. Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was the Keynote Speaker and Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Boston College, Professor, International Studies Program; The Atlantic Council, Eurasia Center Non-Resident Senior Fellow was the moderator.
Dr. Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis spoke about the issues handled by and the functioning of the Parliamentary Assembly and touched upon the history and purpose of the Council of Europe.

Addressing Ukraine, she condemned the use of religion in propaganda, highlighting Russia’s referring to the conflict with its largely-Orthodox Christian neighbor as a ‘holy war’. She said, “the situation in the Middle East is a tragedy for all its victims,” but despite it being an “incredibly complex and sensitive matter” people must be conscious of developments.
After noting that Christianity can be seen as the most persecuted religion in the world and also condemning rising anti-semitism, she also spotlighted the danger of Islamophobia in Europe.

In the context of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan she also brought up the scourge of the destruction of religious sites in many parts of the world.

One of the most fascinating moments was a discussion of how differences between religious and secular outlooks manifest themselves in the Council of Europe. Dr. Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis noted that dialogues reflecting that topic complement the inter-religious dialogue taking place.

The two respected scholars also discussed the background and substance of efforts to have Turkey grant full legal status to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to recognize its international character.

The session was followed by a presentation by Georgios Stassis, Chairman and CEO of Public Power Corporation (DEH) titled ‘Driving Change To Deliver A People-Centric Energy Transition’.

The Luncheon Invocation was delivered by His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain and the toast was offered by Gus M. Pablecas, Archon Ostiarios, National Secretary of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. Metropolitan Theodoritos of Laodicea, Director of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Representation Office in Athens offered the Benediction.

Past U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo Addresses Conference

The highlight of the afternoon session, which was titled ‘Human Rights and Religious Freedom and Their Implications to the Geopolitical Order’ was the keynote address by Pompep. The Convener was John A. Catsimatidis, Archon Notarios, Chair, Religious Freedom Committee, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, and Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice, was the moderator.


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