NEW YORK – With the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is pleased to announce that the 2022 Athenagoras Human Rights Award will be presented to His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. His Beatitude has been a tireless defender of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a determined advocate for religious freedom. The award will be presented on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at the Order’s annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award banquet at the New York Hilton Hotel in New York City.
In recognizing Patriarch Theodore’s long record of defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, stated: “His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore has a profound understanding of the canonical position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Church, and immense respect and love for His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself. Accordingly, at tremendous cost and amid considerable risk, His Beatitude has stood consistently with His All-Holiness in defense of the traditional ecclesiastical and canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
Patriarch Theodore has stood courageously against the uncanonical ecclesiastical imperialism of the Moscow Patriarchate. In an encyclical issued on May 9, 2022, Patriarch Theodore denounced the “anti-canonical, unfraternal, ahistorical and vengeful attempt of the Russian Church in Africa to invade the canonical jurisdiction of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria, following the recognition by His Beatitude the Primate, Pope and Patriarch His Beatitude Theodore II of the Autocephaly canonically granted to the local Church of Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, by means of financial enticement of the native priests.” Patriarch Theodore called on the Metropolitans and Bishops to stand “with a pure Orthodox sacrificial spirit, boldness and courage against anti-Christian ‘ecclesiastical’ expansionism.”
His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, was born in Crete in 1954, where he completed his schooling. He is a graduate of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School of Athens and holds a degree from the Theological Faculty of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. He also studied History of Art, Literature and Philosophy in Odessa in Russia. On October 9, 2004, he was unanimously elected by the Hierarchs of the Alexandrian Throne as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was established in 1986 by the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. The Award was named after one of the great Church leaders of the 20th Century, the late Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I. The Award is presented every year at the Annual Banquet of the Order to a person or organization that has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people.
Previous recipients include His Eminence Demetrios, former Archbishop of America; His Eminence Iakovos, former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of North and South America; His Beatitude Epiphaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine; President Joseph Biden (when he was vice president); former President Jimmy Carter; former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Nobel Laureate and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.