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Church

Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria on the Challenges of 2022 and Hopes for the New Year

January 13, 2023

BOSTON – His Beatitude Theodore Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa spoke to The National Herald about “the invasion” of the Russian Church in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. He also discussed the election of Archbishop Georgios of Cyprus, his fear of war, his experiences during his visit to the United States, and his views on the Greek-American community and The National Herald.

 

Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria is greeted by President Joseph Biden at the White House. Also shown is Archbishop Elpidophoros.
(Photo The White House)

The interview of His Beatitude follows:

The National Herald: Your Beatitude, in what condition does the new year find the Patriarchate of Alexandria?

Patriarch Theodore: It was a difficult, but also a blessed year the 2022. Blessed because I was able to travel everywhere in Africa. I visited Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa. I visited also Rwanda for the first as Primate.

The difficulties that came in 2022 were due to the dishonest invasion of the Russian Church into the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Those people come to Africa and find poor priests and people whom they bribe with 200 to 300 dollars each. At their side is always the Russian Embassy that helps them to do these things.

But the great blessing was that after my return in November from the blessed country of America we led the meeting of our Synod and I realized the blessing that has given to me, that the entire Synod with one heart and one voice stands by me.

We discussed the issues that concern us and with much sorrow we stopped the commemoration of the Patriarch of Moscow Kyrillos, and also we defrocked Bishop Leonidas. I am saying this with much pain because he was close to me for eleven years in Cairo as an Exarch of the Russian Church and I had him as my spiritual son, as I did with all the other priests. We were forced to defrock him because he did what even heretics of the early years didn’t dare to do, invading the canonical environment of the ancient and historic Patriarchate of Alexandria.

TNH: In what condition does the new year find the Orthodox Church around the world?

Patriarch Theodore: As you know dear Theodore, we are in this situation all these years. We are close to the venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as the Church of Greece and the Church of Cyprus. The other Churches also do understand the issues, but we don’t have the communication that we should have had among us, and consequently each one of us tries to take care the matters of his own house, as we say.

 

His Beatitude, Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accepting the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. (Photo: TNH/ C. Athanasatos)

TNH: What do you recommend in order for the unity of the Orthodox Church to restored?

Patriarch Theodore: I am very much hurt by the attack of the Russian Church and I am spiritually tired as a result of the harm they have done and continue to do. This thing goes together with the war of Russians against Ukraine, I think they are two parallel issues and problems.

TNH: Is this a proper time for the Ecumenical Patriarch to convene a Synaxis of the orthodox Prelates?

Patriarch Theodore: It is a personal decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the head of the Orthodox to do it whenever he thinks it is the right time, because God has given him wisdom.

TNH: How do you feel about the election of the new Archbishop Georgios of Cyprus?

Patriarch Theodore: I am very pleased. Of course, all the candidates were ‘axioi’ (worthy). I go very often to Cyprus because we have our Hexarchy there. Also, seventy present of our Greek flock in Africa are our Cypriot brothers.

The new Archbishop is a modest and serious man. I know him for many years since he was an Archimandrite. He loves the mission.

TNH: Where is the world is going today in general?

Patriarch Theodore: The people today above anything else are concerned about poverty. Poverty has hit here and in Greece, and the people are thinking about and are concerned about tomorrow. They love the Church and participate, but I think above all are trying to survive.

 

Archon Michael Psaros receives “The Nicholas J. Bouras” Award from the hands of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria. (Photo: TNH/Chistodoulos Athanasatos)

TNH: What is your biggest fear today?

Patriarch Theodore: A world war because many people will vanish, but I have finally come to believe that it is not going to happen.

TNH: What is your wish?

Patriarch Theodore: To realize my dreams. I say to all “make dreams and send them to stars in heaven where our God is and even if not all of them are realized, some of them will be.”

TNH: What message would you like to send to the Greek-American community?

Patriarch Theodore: To my beloved ‘Omogenia’ I express a big thank you, starting from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros who was near me all the days I visited America, and I thank him very much. I thank the people to whom God has given wealth, but also the simple people whom I met and shook my hand.

I have that Athenagoras Award of Human Rights that your love bestowed upon in my office and every time I see it, my heart draws near you. Fr. Alex Karloutsos, who tried to do everything perfect in all the details, above all with my visit and audience with the President of the United State Mr. Joseph Biden. I always emphasize that he received me in Roosevelt Room and he sat across from me for an entire thirty minutes. Since the time I visited you, many things have changed. When God permits and I come again, I will do make a broader visit to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere.

My wish for The National Herald is to shine always as a beacon, like the Lighthouse of Alexandria, and to help the people not to forget their Hellenic Heritage and the Faith of the Orthodox Church. I wish for all at The National Herald to have happiness, health, and all the gifts of God with your goodness to refresh the desert of our lives.

 

His Beatitude, Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, is presented with the Athenagoras Human Rights Award by Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons, at the banquet in New York. (Photo: TNH/ C. Athanasatos)

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