Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will meet with President Biden during his visit to the US, which begins on October 23, according to the official schedule released by the Greek Archdiocese of America on Wednesday.
The visit to the US, which will be concluded on November 3, will begin in Washington, DC and is expected to include meetings, luncheons, and official dinners with the US President, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou, and Turkish Ambassador to the United States Hasan Murat Mercan, the Archdiocese announced.
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will welcome Bartholomew, whose visit, originally scheduled for May 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the third official visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the US.
Events scheduled in Washington, DC include a Pan-Orthodox Patriarchal Chorostasia at Saint Sophia Cathedral; followed by the inaugural induction of the Senators for Orthodoxy and Hellenism; a luncheon with the Hierarchs; a dinner tribute by the Order of AHEPA; the blessing of the permanent exhibition of Orthodox Christian cultural heritage at the Museum of the Bible, and an ecumenical reception on Capitol Hill by the National Council of Churches.
On October 30, the delegation will attend the Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award Banquet honoring Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla and BioNTech CEO, Dr. Ugur Sahin & Regeneron Pharmaceuticals co-founder, president and chief scientific officer, Dr. George Yancopoulos at the New York Hilton Hotel.
On November 1, the American Jewish Committee will honor Bartholomew with its award for interreligious relations and advancing Orthodox-Jewish relations.
Long friendship between Bartholomew and Biden
President 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 Congratulated Biden for his election
In a letter dated January 2021 to then 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.”