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Bartholomew arrives

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the global head of the 300 million-member Orthodox Christian Church, arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday to begin his sixth visit to the United States.
Archbishop Demetrios of America welcomed him at Louis Armstrong Airport with Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, members of the local clergy, local officials, local Orthodox faithful and children dressed in traditional costume.

Bartholomew blessed the gathering and issued greetings:

From the Mother Church of Constantinople and the Holy and Great Church of Christ, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we bring you greetings and blessings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We give thanks to Almighty God for granting us a safe arrival here in New Orleans, a place to which we return with much hope and expectation. We return after nearly four years, when we came in the Winter of 2006 to share in the loss and pain of the courageous citizens of New Orleans and to witness the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

We return to the place where the mighty Mississippi River nears its course into the Gulf of Mexico, and where the waves of the sea and the banks of the river overflowed. We return so that we might bear witness to the hope that is in you, the hope you have manifested through the rebuilding your lives and your community. We return in order to pray with you and to intercede with the Lord of creation, that the ‘flood of many waters shall not come nigh unto you again.’

We return to this historic and famed city, and call on your fellow citizens around the country to return here for themselves; whether to live or enjoy the unique offerings of New Orleans.

Finally, we return to New Orleans with the same conviction and concern that has taken us around the globe, to oceans and seas and mighty rivers: from the Aegean to the Arctic, from the Black to the Baltic Seas, from the Danube to Amazon – and now, to the mighty Mississippi River. Throughout the previous seven Religion, Science and Environment Symposia, we have brought together academics and policy makers, scientists and theologians; so that we might pose questions and find solutions for the ecological perils of our time.
Here in New Orleans, for the next five days, we shall gather again, and we thank the RSE Committee for their extraordinary efforts in bringing this conference to fruition. Our prayer is that during these days, we shall heighten awareness, strengthen resolve, raise expectations and explore new hopes.

We stand in solidarity with the people of New Orleans and all people who seek a better life. And we are present with you to call for a renewed consciousness for environmental responsibility, and an awareness of what such a consciousness entails.

We pray that our days among you will be a blessing for you and a blessing for us, for we come with only words of peace, love and benediction upon our lips and in our hearts. May God bless the people here present, and bestow upon all his infinite mercy.
(source: Baltimore Sun)

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