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Church

Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa speaks to TNH

December 18, 2021

BOSTON – His Beatitude Theodoros Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, second-ranked after the Ecumenical Patriarch, had luck on his side as, two minutes after boarding the aircraft and the doors had closed for him to travel from South Africa to His See in Alexandria, all flights from Africa were banned.

He is the pre-eminent Missionary Patriarch but also the bearer of the values of Hellenism and had just completed a seventeen-day tour to the ends of the African Continent, even to the most remote cities and towns.

Theodoros is the Patriarch of love, charity, solidarity, affection, and open-heartedness. He emits an innate humanity and love for man, for every human being, in every corner of the World. We found him at the Patriarchate in Alexandria a few days after his return from his missionary tour. His first words were, “I thank God, my dear Theodore, because the night before last, as soon as I got on the plane and the door closed, I did the sign of the cross because after two minutes the ban on all flights from South Africa was issued. I did the sign of the cross and said glory to you, my God, because once again you protected me from the pandemic, because I also went to Botswana for three whole days.”

He said, among other things:

“The purpose of my many days of travel was to meet the expatriate Greeks, exhausted by the pandemic, to commemorate the 785 names that passed in our community due to the pandemic.

“I found myself in the heart of Missionary Africa in Uganda, traveled to Northern Uganda and reached the border with South Sudan, giving everything we could in humanitarian aid and vaccines. From there I found myself across the way in Tanzania with large missions mainly in small hospitals for children who do not have ‘a place to rest their heads’ while in Uganda we renovated schools that [established] from Chania, from Kissamos, that my friend and brother Antonis Diamataris knows very well. We made the school in memory of Ireneos Galanakis and we are preparing a Center for our President, the great leader Konstantinos Mitsotakis for children who want to learn to read in Uganda. I had planned to visit the most remote areas. About two thousand Greeks live there and I went to encourage them. In the accompanying photo you see me at the largest statue of Nelson Mandela and we are making an Institution that will study human rights and freedoms.

Patriarch Theodoros at the Non-Governmental Organization Grace Center, for the relief of the children of the local population, which provides food, entertainment, medical care and education. (Photo: Patriarchate of Alexandria)

“The Greeks there are engaged in plantations, what are called ‘farms’ in America. They are farmers, as they are in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and they keep the economy going well. We had a meeting with youth who are growing financially very strong and we made their acquaintance and I told them, ‘my children, I do not ask for anything, other than that you do what you can for poor people.’ I was where the poorest people on the planet live. These are excluded areas and a Cretan who was friends with the father of Antonis Diamataris, our dear Alekos Balavakis, gives every day a bucket of food to these people. Tears welled up in my eyes.”

There are also Greeks who struggle, but as he said, “thank God the communities take care of them as they are loving people and thus do not let them be impoverished. We also had a gathering of the Federation of all communities – there are many Cretans in Germiston. There are ‘Homes of the Expatriates’ – the Imbrians have a House, cousins of our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew – about fifteen – are there. Next to it, the Cretans have an association with five thousand members, next to that the Ithacans, next to them the Peloponnesians. There is a great Cypriot Brotherhood, because Cypriots account for about 60% of Hellenism there.”

Speaking about his meeting with the President of South Africa, he said that “he is a very enlightened man. He hugged me and his big complaint to Europe was that both he and all African leaders were begging for a few vaccines. He told me, ‘Doors closed, doors closed.’ In French, he was described as a Valerian for his ability to open the doors of Europe for vaccines, and France – Macron, said ‘yes’.

Asked whether the Greeks of South Africa and other countries are maintaining the Greek language and Hellenic traditions, he said: “Of course, we have very important churches, schools, the famous Saheti, where I sang the National Anthem with 1,260 children.”

He also stressed that “the climate is very worrying. I found people locked indoors, scared, they came out of their houses and came to the communities. We have lost about 785 Greeks from the pandemic and I felt the anxiety of the people while I was at the airport, people who were trying in panic to find a flight to leave. We have a large outflow of Hellenism to overseas countries, mainly to America, Canada, Australia, Cyprus because there has been a massive increase in crime.”

The Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros with the Cretan Dance Ensemble of a Greek community in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Patriarchate of Alexandria)

Regarding the Omicron mutation, he stated that “they say it came from Botswana. I stayed there for three days. All in all they are120 people and I went to tell them ‘my children do not be disappointed, your father Theodoros is among you.’ I did not see anything because Botswana is a protectorate of America, that is, you think you are in Manhattan. We have the largest academy that prepares children for the U.S. military, and thousands live there. “It’s a part of America with clean roads.”

Regarding vaccines, he said, “they came from America with great difficulty, but there is a problem that many Africans do not go to be vaccinated. They do not want to – they are afraid. All Greeks have been vaccinated and that is very good. We ‘lost’ many priests and in fact two, three from Crete, so we have a big issue with that, which is why I want to ask my brother Elpidophoros in America too if two or three good young men can come and help us.”

He concluded by saying, “I told Archbishop Elpidophoros that my dream is to marry the two continents, Africa and America. And so I appeal to our National Herald if there are young people who want to help this beautiful corner of the Earth. It would be a great thing. I want to thank you because The National Herald is a voice that expresses my anxiety about battling through the mud and dirt and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

 

 

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