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President-Elect Biden Thanks Patriarch Bartholomew After Election Win

joe biden patriarch bartholomew
President Joe Biden meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew in 2011. Credit: US Government

President-elect Joe Biden sent an official letter of thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew on Saturday.

In his letter, the President-elect thanked the Patriarch for his well wishes and congratulations after Biden’s electoral victory in November of 2020.

The Patriarch sent Biden a warm letter of congratulations shortly after his win in November.

The election was marred by controversy as the incumbent, President Donald Trump, refused to accept the results of the election, stalling the transition of power and spreading  claims of election fraud.

Long Friendship

President-elect Biden and Patriarch Bartholomew share a long history of goodwill and friendship, dating back to Biden’s eight-year tenure as Vice President during the Obama administration.

A turning point in their friendship was Biden’s visit to Istanbul as Vice President in 2011. While there, Biden immersed himself in the world of Orthodoxy, touring the most important sites with then-Archbishop of America Demetrios.

Reflecting on his visit to the city, Biden called lighting a candle at St. George Cathedral, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, “one of the biggest honors of his life.”

Since then, Biden has returned to the city, each time stopping at St. George to light a candle with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Ecumenical Patriarch Congratulates Biden

In his letter to the President-elect, hand-written in Greek with an English translation attached, Bartholomew makes their friendship clear.

“Since you are well aware of my sentiments for you throughout the years of our friendship, you can only imagine my great delight and pride for your successful election as 46th President of your prominent nation, the United States of America,” the Patriarch wrote.

Mentioning Greek Orthodoxy’s vibrant presence in the US and abroad, including the Archbishop of America Elpidophoros, the Patriarch expressed the feelings of happiness and hope felt around the world at Biden’s win.

“There are millions of Americans, as well as citizens of the entire free world, to whom you now offer hope (I could say conviction) for a better future, where the eternal values and ideals of a civilized humanity may prevail.”

Citing the Patriarchate’s commitment to fighting climate change and upholding human rights worldwide, the Patriarch acknowledged Biden’s similar stance on these issues.

Patriarch Bartholomew also pushed Biden to re-join the Paris Climate Accord and stand up for the rights of religious minorities in the Middle East.

Biden’s Response

In his hand-written response, Biden wrote to his friend Bartholomew, with a similar air of friendship.

Biden acknowledged the difficulties he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will face in the up coming four years, “from Covid-19 to climate change,” and expressed his wish for guidance from the Patriarch: “We look forward to working together with you during this difficult moment,” Biden wrote.

Closing the official letter, President-elect Biden wished the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople well, and stated “we need your leadership.”

The full letter from Biden reads:

“Your Holiness,

Thank you for your kind words and wishes. I’m sorry because we have not yet had the opportunity to contact you by phone.

It is a great honor to be elected the next President of the United States, and I realize just how much work lies ahead of us. Vice President-elect Harris and I will take office at a time of great global challenges —from the coronavirus to climate change— that transcend borders and require international cooperation. We look forward to working with you at this difficult time.”

Thank you again, Your Holiness. I look forward to a future dialogue.

Sincerely,

Joe

Be well. We need your leadership.”

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