The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate presented the 2022 Athenagoras Human Rights Award to Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa at a ceremony in New York on Saturday.
Theodore II has been a tireless defender of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a determined advocate for religious freedom.
An Archon is an honoree by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his outstanding service to the Church. Archons are well-known, distinguished, and well-respected leaders of the Orthodox Christian community.
On Friday, October 7, 2022, the Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship was also presented to Michael G. Psaros.
In recognizing Patriarch Theodore’s long record of defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, stated: “His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore has a profound understanding of the canonical position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Church, and immense respect and love for His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself.”
“Accordingly, at tremendous cost and amid considerable risk,” he added, “His Beatitude has stood consistently with His All-Holiness in defense of the traditional ecclesiastical and canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
Archons honor the Patriarch of Africa for defending against Moscow’s “imperialism”
Patriarch Theodore stood courageously against the uncanonical ecclesiastical imperialism of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Archons said in a press statement.
In an encyclical issued on May 9, 2022, Patriarch Theodore denounced the “anti-canonical, unfraternal, ahistorical, and vengeful attempt of the Russian Church in Africa to invade the canonical jurisdiction of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria…following the recognition… canonically granted to the local Church of Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
Patriarch Theodore called on the Metropolitans and Bishops to stand “with a pure Orthodox sacrificial spirit, boldness, and courage against anti-Christian ‘ecclesiastical’ expansionism.”
Theodore was born on Crete in 1954, where he completed his schooling. He is a graduate of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School of Athens and holds a degree from the Theological Faculty of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. He also studied History of Art, Literature, and Philosophy in Odessa, Ukraine.
On October 9, 2004, he was unanimously elected by the Hierarchs of the Alexandrian Throne as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was established in 1986 by the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America.
The Award was named after one of the greatest church leaders of the 20th Century, the late Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I. It is presented every year at the Annual Banquet of the Order to a person or organization that has consistently exemplified through action, purpose, and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people.
Previous recipients include His Eminence Demetrios, the former Archbishop of America; His Eminence Iakovos, the former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of North and South America; His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine; President Joseph Biden, during his time as vice-president; former President Jimmy Carter; former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Nobel Laureate and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.