Every visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States of America is a historic event. His presence here, among us, the fifth time in 30 years, inspires us, elevates us, strengthens our sense of trust and confidence as a community, and maintains and strengthens the ties between us.
The visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the USA, which began on Saturday – this commentary was written before his hospitalization – in Washington, is of special importance. He visits us to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his ministry at the Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople with us, which makes him the longest-serving Ecumenical Patriarch in the 17-century-long history of the patriarchal institution.
The Archdiocese of America is certainly not the only ecclesiastical province of the Ecumenical Throne, but it is the largest, most economically robust, and has strong political influence in the leading country in the world. Therefore, its importance for the Patriarchate is particularly important as it faces major challenges.
At the same time, however, the contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to our Community is of incalculable value. It keeps the Church of America strong in the difficult times we live in, difficult in every way in that challenges abound for key institutions such as religion and the family. It is the steady, experienced hand of the Patriarch that keeps the Hellenic Diaspora united and strong. That guides her on stormy seas.
The Patriarchate’s centuries-long journey is the religious Institution that has connected generations and generations of Orthodox Christians around the world.
It is our Patriarchate. It has nurtured us since our childhoods. It is its importance that makes the Greek community embrace it, that moves us to strongly support it.
During his visit, Patriarch Bartholomew will combine contacts at America’s highest official levels with events involving the Community.
It is significant that he will meet with the American President, with whom he is connected by friendship from the past, but also with members of Congress, as well as leaders of the Christian and the academic communities.
These meetings are of course made possible thanks to his high position. But they would not, however, have the scope and importance given to them by this alone. That is due to his leadership qualities that has made him a global religious leader. He has earned the respect, appreciation, and allure that comes from it.
And while with these meetings he deepens our influence, he also gains strength as he continues his martyric mission in Constantinople.
We welcome His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to America and to our Community and wish him every success in his high mission.