From Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date Thu, 29 May 2008 12:27:25 -0700
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106
Tel: (212) 570-3556
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2008
Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Archbishop Demetrios Meets With Patriarch Alexy of Moscow
MOSCOW ? Archbishop Demetrios of Americca and the members of the official delegation of the Archdiocese were received by Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia on Tuesday May 27th at the Official Patriarchal Residence inside the Danilovsky Monastery, the first Monastery founded in Moscow.
Before the 1:00 p.m. meeting with the Patriarch, the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate had arranged with the government for the Archbishop and the delegation to receive a private tour of the Grand Palace inside the Kremlin. This vast palace contains the official government ceremonial halls that have been used for state occasions throughout Russian history, as well as the private apartments of the Tsars and their royal chapel.
After returning from the Kremlin, Archbishop Demetrios led the delegation on the short walk from the Danilovsky Hotel to the Official Patriarchal Residence. There, precisely at 1:00 p.m., he was received by Bishop Alexander of Mitrof, Vicar Bishop to the Patriarch in charge of prison Ministry, Archimandrite Alexy, Abbot of the Danilovsky Monastery, and Protopresbyter Nikolai Balashov, Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Relations. These officials of the Moscow Patriarchate conducted His Eminence and the members of the delegation to a reception room where Patriarch Alexy warmly greeted the Archbishop, the Hierarchs and all the members of the delegation. After this initial greeting, the Patriarch escorted the Archbishop and all the members of the delegation into the Patriarchal Throne Room, where a table had been set up to accommodate all the members of the delegation and the Patriarchâ??s staff. Members of the media, including numerous reporters, television crews and photographers busily recorded the beginning of the meeting.
The meeting was divided into two sections; the first portion was an opportunity for the entire delegation to participate with mass media present. The second was a private meeting between the Patriarch and the Archbishop reserved for the Hierarchs and staff.
The Patriarch sat in the middle of the table, across from the Archbishop and formally welcomed both him and the members of the delegation. In his opening remarks, Patriarch Alexy thanked the Archbishop for the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin. He welcomed His Eminence â??as a son of Thessalonikiâ?? (the birthplace of Sts. Cyril and Methodios), noting the shared faith of the Greek and Russian nations. The Patriarch concluded his welcome by stressing the importance of the visit of His Eminence as the Exarch of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, adding â??whom we wholeheartedly love.â?? After extending his greetings to the other Hierarchs, Patriarch Alexy welcomed Metropolitan Methodios, Metropolitan Alexios and Bishop Savas as â??esteemed pastors and spiritual leaders for the United States,â?? and the remainder of the delegation.
In his talk that followed, Patriarch Alexy spoke of the process of the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church after decades of minimal survival. He spoke of the difficulty of restoring the souls of the people as being the greatest challenge to the Church, adding that the role of the Church in society: in philanthropy, youth work, care for the elderly and chaplaincies for the military and in prisons is being restored. As an example of this restoration, he said that since 1990, 700 oratories (chapels) have been constructed in prisons throughout the country by the prisoners themselves. The Patriarch also shared some statistics with the delegation that bear witness to the remarkable resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In his response to the Patriarch, the Archbishop expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the Patriarchâ??s invitation and hospitality. He noted the kindness and attention that the Patriarch had shown both him and the delegation, by being present with them nearly every day of the visit. The Archbishop recalled when he led the official delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Consecration of Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2000, and the advancement and progress from that time. In their mutual discussion on the state of Orthodoxy in America, the Archbishop stressed the challenges created by advanced technology and increasing secularization and relativization. His Eminenceâ??s conclusion that a byproduct of increased secularization is an increased thirst for God leading to more conversions to Orthodox Christianity became a theme that he and the Patriarch returned to throughout the meeting.
Around forty minutes into the meeting, the Patriarch stood up with a broad smile to indicate that the public portion of the meeting was to be concluded with a bestowal of tokens of friendship and goodwill. The Patriarch presented the Archbishop with a crystal commemorative plate celebrating the 125 year history of Christ the Savior Cathedral, noting that the plates had just been struck and that the Archbishop was receiving the very first one. In addition, he gifted a Cross and Engolpion set to the Archbishop, an Engolpion to all the Hierarchs, a Cross to each of the clergy, and decorative Easter eggs to all the members of the delegation. The Archbishop reciprocated with a triple set of Cross, Panaghia and Engolpion for the Patriarch. Following this exchange of tokens of esteem and respect, the delegation posed for final pictures with the Patriarch, and the portion of the delegation not continuing in the meeting received the Patriarchâ??s blessing before departing to the hotel. Then, the press was dismissed and the private portion of the meeting commenced.
When the meeting had concluded, in an expression of love and esteem, the Patriarch accompanied the Archbishop down the grand staircase to the door of the Residence. Fraternal kisses of peace were exchanged, and Christos Anesti ? Alithos Anesti could bee heard all around.
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