Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met President Biden at the White House on Monday in a meeting described as “warm and cordial.”
The focus of their discussion was climate change. The Ecumenical Patriarch noted that the need for political leaders to respond is particularly timely in light of the imminent COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
Bartholomew also thanked President Biden for his decisive response to the pandemic and for his readiness to support developing nations in securing Covid-19 vaccines for their populations.
The Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his sincere hope for the re-opening of Halki Seminary, which was forcibly closed fifty years ago. “He is a man of faith and man of vision, and we know that he will offer to this wonderful country and to the world, the best leadership and direction within his considerable powers,” Bartholomew said.
In attendance at the hour-long meeting were Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, and the Vicar-General of the Archdiocese Fr. Alexander Karloutsos.
Deeply grateful to President @JoeBiden for our meeting in the Oval Office, where the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed the urgency of political leaders responding to the climate crisis, the distribution of Covid vaccines to developing nations, and the reopening of Halki Seminary. pic.twitter.com/PiZ5jCITsS
— Elpidophoros (@Elpidophoros) October 25, 2021
On his part President Biden congratulated Bartholomew on thirty years of “moral and spiritual leadership as Ecumenical Patriarch.”
The President expressed relief at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s speedy recovery. Earlier, Bartholomew was discharged from hospital and cleared to continue the rest of his scheduled visit.
Bartholomew also has met on Monday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken said that they discussed the US commitment to supporting global religious freedom.
“We value our partnership with the Orthodox Christian community worldwide and religious minorities in Turkey and the region.”
I was honored to meet His All-Holiness, @EcuPatriarch Bartholomew to discuss the U.S. commitment to supporting global religious freedom. We value our partnership with the Orthodox Christian community worldwide and religious minorities in Turkey and the region. pic.twitter.com/2CWFCY5E4W
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 25, 2021
Later in the week on Thursday, Bartholomew will be given an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame, as part of a larger event geared towards rebuilding the bond between the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will wind down his trip at the St. Nicholas Shrine
On November 2, the day before Bartholomew’s trip comes to a close, His All-Holiness will preside over a door-opening ceremony at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City.
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church–located just across the street from Ground Zero–was destroyed ruing the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Now, 20 years later, it has been rebuilt to include a shrine and memorial to the tragedy. The church was illuminated for the first time on the eve of 9/11’s 20th anniversary last month.
A memorial service was held from 7:45 to 8PM by Archbishop Elpidophoros before the exterior of the church was illuminated from within.
“St Nicholas stands before you today to tell the world that light will always shine on through the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it! Faith will always triumph over doubt. Hope will always vanquish despair. And love will always conquer hate,” Elpidophoros said.
The head of the Orthodox Church in America had just recently announced that Reverend Protopresbyter Andreas Vithoulkas, the Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, would serve as presiding priest for the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.
The construction of the building has been an extraordinarily difficult journey, having to weather charges of corruption and malfeasance, with the work grinding to a halt at one point. However, the financial problems were ironed out and construction recommenced under the firm hand of Elpidophoros, the Archbishop of the Americas, who was elected to his position in June of 2019.