11.7 C
Κυριακή, 27 Νοεμβρίου, 2022

Οι Πατριαρχικές ομιλίες κατά την επίσκεψη στο Λονδίνο (21-24 Οκτωβρίου 2022)

REMARKS By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew At the Agiasmos Service Holy Apostles Church, (Monday October 24, 2022)

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain,

Beloved members of the clergy and the church committee,

Dear chanters, parishioners and guests,

When the emissaries of St. Vladimir the Great visited the Great Church of Hagia Sophia in the tenth century, they confessed that they did not know whether they were in heaven or on earth. Who could imagine that, in this beautiful stone church of the Twelve Apostles with its spectacular iconography, we too may declare the same sentiments in twenty-first century England? Indeed, the iconography of this church is connected to the iconography of the newly-constructed St. Nicholas Shrine on Ground Zero in New York inasmuch as both are beautifully created by the Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Xenofontos on Mount Athos.

Yet this is precisely the miracle of our parishes and communities throughout the Eparchies of the Throne of Constantinople across the diaspora. Although we may find ourselves thousands of kilometers from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, nevertheless we feel truly at home. We are at home – as if we were in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, where we pray every day. We are at home – as if we were in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, which stands as an unfailing symbol of one thousand five hundred years. And we are at home – as if we were in the heaven, before the throne of our Father.

We begin then by thanking the Almighty God for providing this exceptional opportunity and blessing to visit such a wonderful and vibrant community that makes the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church proud with the diversity of its services and ministries. And we congratulate all of you – from your caring pastor, Archbishop Nikitas; to your tireless clergy and chanters, to the very last parishioners, young and old – for the invaluable service that you render for the glory of God and the benefit of His people.

May this blessing of the waters (this Ἁγιασμός) be a source of inspiration and strength to all of you not only in the new community center that you are currently constructing. May it bring new life and refreshment in every activity that you undertake. May it also enrich the work that you have done in broadcasting the treasures of our liturgical tradition throughout the United Kingdom over so many years.

And be assured that you are always in our prayers, just as you are all welcome to visit us at the Phanar – which is your home! – at any time with your families and friends.

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of our God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Remarks of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW – London Christian Leaders Breakfast – Royal Lancaster Hotel, London  (October 24, 2022)

Your Eminences, 

Your Excellences and Graces,

Distinguished Ecumenical Leaders,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Dear Friends, 

It is a privilege and an honor to be among you this morning, not only because you represent a variety of Christian Churches and Communities in London and beyond, but also because you symbolize hope, peace, and reconciliation wherever the Lord has called you to minister. We greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, our heart being filled with joy and gratitude for your presence.

As we stand in your company among this distinguished group of Christian leaders and representatives, we cannot help but think of how crucial ecumenical dialogue is in today’s world. The recent 11th general Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held this past September in Germany, has proven once again the importance of our joint quest for Christian unity as the most visible expression of our common witness to the Christian faith. This ecumenical journey is certainly a blessing and an opportunity for reconciliation, healing our wounded memories, opposing the temptation of self-isolation, and discussing our theological differences. 

As you all know, the commitment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Christian unity has always been unwavering and paramount, from the early years of the Ecumenical movement. If we do not place the issue of unity and communion at the center of our commitment, we will lose the authenticity of our relationships and the common goal that brings us together. For that purpose, we have excellent and very talented theologians working on various aspects of our doctrine. Today, we would like to especially commend the members of the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue who have worked so tirelessly, under the co-chairmanship of the Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke of Armagh, and His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, on many theological issues, and most recently on questions surrounding the environment and ecology. Allow us to make a special mention of one of the pillars of this dialogue, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, who passed away very recently. May his memory be eternal! The 2020 Statement “Stewards of Creation: A Hope-Filled Ecology” is not merely an ecumenical exercise towards theological consensus, it is the manifestation of the conviction that our quest for Christian unity should become a catalyst for social and environmental justice. The Statement closes with these wonderful words: “Therefore Anglicans and Orthodox ask their Churches, all Christians, members of other faith communities, and all people of good will to adopt attitudes of Wonder, Gratitude, and Restraint in order individually and corporately to be filled with wonder at the beauty of God’s creation so that we might be motivated to protect and conserve diverse land, air, and sea ecosystems…” (par.35) 

The determination of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its approach to the ecological crisis is grounded in the principle that we cannot have two ways of looking at the world: one religious and the other worldly. We cannot separate our concerns for human dignity, human rights, or social justice from our concerns for ecological preservation and sustainability. These concerns are closely linked. If we value each individual made in the image of God, and if we value every particle of God’s creation, then we must also care for each other and our world. This vision also inspired the join Statement for the protection of the environment issued together with our two brothers His Holiness Pope Francis and the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury in September 2021, in which we declared with one voice and one heart: “Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,

In closing, we would like to thank His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain for hosting this breakfast. We would like to express our gratitude for your presence today. We pray wholeheartedly that the ethos of ecumenical dialogue and reconciliation may continue to be cultivated within all our different Churches by the contemplation of Christ’s presence everywhere, a presence that shines forth in all places, and especially when we come together in His Holy Name in a spirit of love and unity.

Thank you for your kind attention.

ADDRESS OF HIS ALL HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW At the Centennial Banquet Celebrating the Founding of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain – Royal Lancaster Hotel London, England (October 23, 2022)

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas,

Most Reverend Metropolitans and Bishops,

Distinguished Guests,

Esteemed Archons of the Ecumenical Throne,

Beloved Children in the Lord,

One hundred years ago, the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople established with the Name, Θυατείρων, Her Sacred Eparchy for Great Britain and Western and Central Europe. For one hundred years, this Metropolis – now an Archdiocese – has been the Elder Sister to all the emergent Eparchies throughout the Europe over which she once ruled.

Together with the Holy Archdiocese of America (whom you precede chronologically), you celebrate the Centenary of your ecclesiastical life, as the precious Daughter of Ecumenical Throne.

Your lineage is as distinguished as it is ancient, for you are named for one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, whose roots in Asia Minor have given them a special connection with the Great Church of Christ through the centuries,

Listen, for a moment, to what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says to the Christians of Thyateira in the Book of Revelation – it is message for you this evening in the rejoicing of your first hundred years, and a promise for the next hundred:

Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Θυατείροις ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ ἔχων τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ ὡς φλόγα πυρός, καὶ οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ· οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν διακονίαν καὶ τὴν ὑπομονήν σου, καὶ τὰ ἔργα σου τὰ ἔσχατα πλείονα τῶν πρώτων.

And unto the Angel of the Church in Thyateira, write: ‘Thus says the Son of God, Whose eyes flash like fiery flames, and Whose feet are like molten brass. I know your deeds and your love, your devotion to serving others, your faith, and your endurance. Indeed, your works of late far surpass your early works. 

This is your legacy, our beloved children in the Lord: “your love, your devotion to serving others, your faith, and your endurance.” Could a greater testament to a Church ever be found? We do not think so, and therefore we commend all the members of this Eparchy, which has shown such ministry to the Faithful, and such devotion to the Mother Church of Constantinople.

Such an anniversary as this is an opportunity to look back in time – to look back in gratitude and appreciation for all the sacrifices that have delivered you to the present moment. The walls of the Church are made from you, who are the “Living Stones” of which Saint Peter speaks. And these walls are raised higher and higher through the successive generations. Each builds upon the success and accomplishments of their spiritual, and ofttimes, natural forebears, and in this way, the Church grows and provides for all its members. But as a physical wall must have no gaps and no voids, and must be reinforced with mortar to bind the stones, you must also stay close to one another, and be bound by the most powerful cement the world has ever known: love.

For it is love that hold the Church together above all else, even our traditions, canons, and rituals. And we have witnessed how the lack of love unleashes destructive forces within the Church as in the world.

But as the Apostle reminds us: “Love never fails.” «Ἡ ἀγάπη οὐδέποτε ἐκπίπτει». From time to time we humans will fall short, but in the end, love will conquer and reign supreme, for God is love – ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν.

Therefore our beloved children in the Lord:

Even with all your triumphs to date, the real trial is proven in the future. That is why we take great hope and courage from the words of our Lord to those in Thyateira those many centuries ago: “your works of late far surpass your early works.” Here is the spur that urges you on for the next hundred years. Here is the test to see if you can go forth “from glory to glory,” and give to those in the next hundred years the pride and joy you feel tonight.

We exhort you to see every day as an opportunity to surpass your achievements, ‘your earlier works.’ Thus you will always be well pleasing to the Lord and hear His promise:

“I will give you the morning star.” 

You will receive every blessing that can be attained in this life, and be prepared for those that are destined for the next.

As Ecumenical Patriarch and your spiritual father – who rules with love and compassion to this very day in the land of Thyateira, in all the Churches of the Apocalypse, and in the land of the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils, we offer to you our heartfelt and paternal prayers for your continued success, for your good health, and the health of your parishes, monasteries, and families. 

We ask our Merciful and Loving God to grant you all joy and gladness, and the spiritual vitality to keep building the living Temple of God here in Great Britain together – as one community of love and compassion. 

You who have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit speaks to the Churches («Τί τό Πνεμα λέγει τας κκλησίαις»). 

May the Lord bless you all.

Τιμιώτατοι ἀδελφοί καί προσφιλέστατα τέκνα ἐν Κυρίῳ,

Τά συναισθήματα χαρᾶς διά τήν συμπλήρωσιν ὁλοκλήρου ἑκατοντα-ετίας ἀπό τῆς ἱδρύσεως τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Θυατείρων καί Μεγάλης Βρεταννίας συνοδεύονται καί ἀπό δικαιολογημένην ἱκανοποίησιν καί ὑπερηφάνιαν δι᾽ ὅσα σεμνά καί εὔφημα ἐπετεύχθησαν, εὐδοκίᾳ καί χάριτι τοῦ ἀγαθοδότου Δομήτηρος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, συνεργίᾳ δέ τοῦ ἐνταῦθα εὐλογημένου λαοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, μέ πρωτοστάτας τούς ἑκάστοτε Ἀρχιεπι-σκόπους καί συμπαραστάτας τά μέλη τοῦ ἱεροῦ κλήρου, εἰς τήν μεγάλην αὐτήν Ἐπαρχίαν τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Θρόνου ἐδῶ εἰς τήν Δύσιν. Ἡ ἵδρυσις τῆς Ἱερᾶς αὐτῆς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς ἤνοιξεν ὄντως ἕνα νέον κεφάλαιον εἰς τήν ἱστορίαν τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, εἰς τάς σχέσεις της μέ τήν Χριστιανικήν Εὐρώπην καί εἰς τήν οἰκουμενικήν της μαρτυρίαν. Ὁ Κύριος τοῦ ἐλέους νά ἀναπαύῃ ἐν Χώρᾳ Ζώντων πάντας τούς μακαρίᾳ τῇ λήξει γενομένους Ἀρχιεπι-σκόπους, Ἐπισκόπους, ἱερεῖς καί διακόνους καί ὅλα ἀνεξαιρέτως τά τέκνα τῆς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Θυατείρων. Ἄς εἶναι ἡ μνήμη αὐτῶν αἰωνία καί ἄληστος!

Ἑκατονταετία συνεπληρώθη εἰς τήν πορείαν τῆς εὐλογημένης αὐτῆς Ἐπαρχίας τῆς Μητρός Ἐκκλησίας, καί ἰδού εἰσερχόμεθα εἰς τόν νέον αἰῶνα αὐτῆς, μέ ἐπί κεφαλῆς ἀπό τοῦ ἔτους 2019, τόν Ἱερώτατον ἀδελφόν Νικήταν, ὁ ὁποῖος ἤδη κατά τήν πρώτην τριετίαν τῆς ποιμαντορίας του, ἀφωσιωμένος ψυχῇ τε καί σώματι εἰς τήν ἁγίαν ἀποστολήν του, ἐπέτυχε πάμπολλα ἀξιάγαστα εἰς τήν λειτουργίαν τῶν ἐκκλησιαστικῶν πραγμάτων, τῆς πνευματικῆς ζωῆς καί τῆς ποιμαντικῆς μερίμνης, μέ πνεῦμα πιστότητος εἰς τήν παρακαταθήκην τῶν Πατέρων, μέ ποιμαντικήν φαντασίαν, μέ χρῆσιν τῶν μέσων τά ὁποῖα προσφέρει ὁ σύγχρονος πολιτισμός, μέ ἰδιαίτερον ἐνδιαφέρον διά τήν νεολαίαν, ἡ ὁποία, ὅπως ἀπεφάνθη ἡ Ἁγία καί Μεγάλη Σύνοδος τῆς Κρήτης δέν εἶναι «ἁπλῶς τό ‘μέλλον’ τῆς Ἐκκλη-σίας, ἀλλά καί ἡ ἐνεργός ἔκφρασις τῆς φιλοθέου καί φιλανθρώπου ζωῆς αὐτῆς ἐν τῷ παρόντι» (γκύκλιος, § 8). Σᾶς συγχαίρομεν, ἅγιε ἀδελφέ, διά τό ἔργον σας, διά τόν σεβασμόν σας πρός τόν πάνσεπτον Οἰκουμενικόν Θρόνον, διά τήν ἀνοικτοσύνην σας πρός τόν κόσμον καί πρός τόν ἄνθρωπον, δι᾽ ὅσα πράττετε διά τήν ἐν Χριστῷ οἰκοδομήν τοῦ ποιμνίου σας καί διά τήν εὐαισθησίαν σας ἀπέναντι εἰς ὅλας τάς συγχρόνους τάσεις, αἱ ὁποῖαι φαλκιδεύουν τό ἀνθρώπινον πρόσωπον. Ἐκφράζομεν πρός ὑμᾶς τήν Πατριαρχικήν μας εὐαρέσκειαν καί τάς ἐγκαρδίους εὐχάς τῆς Μητρός Ἐκκλησίας.

Ὁ πανσθενουργός, πανάγαθος καί πάνδωρος Κύριος νά χαρίζῃ εἰς ὑμᾶς, εἰς τούς συνεπισκόπους σας, τόν εὐλαβέστατον ἱερόν κλῆρον, σύμπαντα τόν περί ὑμᾶς εὐσεβῆ λαόν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅλους τούς ἀγαπητούς Χριστιανούς μας, πάντα τά σωτηριώδη δωρήματα Αὐτοῦ. Νά σκέπῃ καί νά κρατύνῃ τήν νεότητα καί νά χαρίζῃ εἰς αὐτήν κάθε εὐλογίαν, πρόοδον, πνεῦμα προσφορᾶς καί τήν βεβαιότητα ὅτι εἶναι ὁ φορεύς καί συνεχιστής τῆς μακραίωνος παραδόσεως τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, ἐντός τῆς ὁποίας διεφυλάχθη καί ἐνεπλουτίσθη ἡ ἀρχαία ἑλληνική πνευματική κληρονομία καί διεσώθη ἡ ἑνότης καί ἡ πνευματική ἰδιοπροσωπία τοῦ Γένους μας.

Εὐχαριστοῦμεν ἐκ μέσης καρδίας, ἐκφράζοντες καί τά αἰσθήματα τῶν μελῶν τῆς τιμίας συνοδείας ἡμῶν, ἅπαξ ἔτι, διά τήν ὑποδοχήν καί τήν φιλοξενίαν καί δι᾽ ὅσα ζοῦμε κατά τάς θεοδωρήτους καί εὐλογημένας αὐτάς ἡμέρας.

Ὁ Χριστός ἐν τῷ μέσῳ ἡμῶν, ἀδελφοί καί τέκνα! Χρόνια πολλά καί εὐλογημένα εἰς ὅλους!

Address of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW during the Vesper Service at St James’ Church, Sussex Gardens (Sunday, 23rd October 2022)

Lord Bishop of Fulham, Right Reverend Jonathan Baker,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Reverend Fathers,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Glorifying the God of our fathers and thanking Him for the countless blessings that He has bestowed upon us, we bring you our humble greetings from the Church of Constantinople, being most appreciative that you have invited us to be with you during this evening’s prayer service in this beautiful church, as we continue our Patriarchal Visit to the United Kingdom commemorating the centennial of our Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. Considering this Holy Temple’s proximity to the Archdiocesan Headquarters at Thyateira House, we note that you are good neighbours and recognise the Abrahamic hospitality that your parish has extended to us this evening and that the Church of England, in general, has shown to our faithful, especially here in London, for many years.

While many Greek Orthodox Christians had already been moving to the British Isles for centuries, primarily for economic and trade opportunities, our Ecumenical Throne formally established the local eparchy one hundred years ago under challenging conditions for the Mother Church of Constantinople during a period when over one million refugees were forced to leave their native lands. While the Ecumenical Patriarchate saw faithful leave our country and region – a historical cradle of Christianity from the era of the New Testament – at the same time, efforts were made to ensure that the Holy Great Church of Christ provided much-needed spiritual care to those immigrating to Western and Central Europe. Today, especially in light of the complex political and economic conditions throughout Europe, our Archdiocese continues its mission by ministering to Orthodox Christians, not only to those originating from Greece, Cyprus, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere but also by providing support for the local less fortunate regardless of religious confession. After all, this is what Christ commanded us to do when saying that “all will know that you are (His) disciples, if (we) have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Naturally, especially during the initial years when the Orthodox lacked the necessary organisation and resources, the Church of England, despite its own various tribulations and challenges, offered highly valued assistance and support, such as providing many houses of worship. We are sincerely grateful for these thoughtful initiatives and gestures, which have also certainly encouraged the progress of the bilateral dialogue and cooperation between Anglicans and Orthodox on a local and international level. These first acquaintances and concrete interactions here were among the initial influences that led the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to be a trailblazer and active participant in the Ecumenical Movement since the beginning of the previous century. This is evident by the Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical of 1920, entitled “Unto the Churches of Christ everywhere,” which provided a framework and suggestions for inter-Christian dialogue and emphasised the importance that we place on it, not only between Christians but with other faiths and all people of goodwill.

As witnessed by the meetings of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, such as the one that took place only a few weeks ago in Athens, under the co-chairmanship of His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, who is part of our honourable entourage here in London, we remain convinced that our dedication to an honest exchange of ideas assists in healing past wounds and misunderstandings. While we may not see eye-to-eye on every issue, we look to find common ground on subjects that we can agree on so that we can raise a much sought-after united Christian voice to address contemporary problems, to speak against social and environmental injustices, to call for peace and reconciliation unceasingly, and to stand up for our shared, Christian values in an increasingly secularised world.

Therefore, it is with these thoughts that we leave you with this evening, looking forward to the continued collaboration and mutual support that you will enjoy and continue to cultivate with the Archdiocese of Thyateira as it officially moves into its second century here in Great Britain. Furthermore, never remaining complacent or overly proud in charitable works, we congratulate you for your various accomplishments as followers of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Holy Gospel and encourage you to continue and strengthen the manifold ministries of this parish that offer much for the betterment of society.

“May the blessing of the Lord and His mercy come upon you by His divine grace and love for mankind, always, now and forever and to the ages of ages.”

GREETINGS By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew At the Archon Luncheon (Hellenic Centre, Sunday, October 23, 2022)

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain,

Beloved Archons of the Mother Church of Constantinople,

It is truly a joy and delight for us to share this meal with all of you. Because we have long observed your tireless witness and sacrifice in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. And we have long witnessed your undivided devotion and commitment in the service of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. Your unfailing assistance and encouragement lightens our burden in the many and varied challenges that we face in Turkey, in Europe and throughout the world.

Year after year, you worthily defend and promote the religious rights and freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, enabling us in turn to do the same by advocating and advancing inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue. Moreover, your patronage and encouragement sustains us as we seek to champion the preservation of God’s sacred gift of creation, which we have done for many decades now, but also the protection of human life against modern slavery and trafficking, which we have undertaken more recently with the leadership of Archbishop Nikitas and with the fruitful collaboration of the Anglican Church.

Even as we struggle for righteousness and justice in a world of turmoil and a time of crisis, we nevertheless know and find strength in the fact that we have a vast “cloud of witnesses” in the saints of our Church, especially those who founded our church, such as St. Andrew the First-Called and St. Stachys his disciple, but also our predecessors on the Throne of Constantinople, such as St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. At the same time, however, we are strengthened and sustained by you, dear Archons. For, you are the ones who uphold the reputation and ministry, the status and honor, of the Church of Constantinople in all parts of the planet and all Eparchies of the Throne.

As you know very well, the entire world is only just emerging from the global pandemic that threatened and took so many lives, while at the same time revealing the generosity and dedication of doctors and carers. From the Phanar, we paternally motivated our clergy and laity in parishes across the globe to learn from the knowledge of science, to abide by the regulations of local and national authorities, and to act compassionately toward the most vulnerable among us.

And today, the unjustifiable war in Ukraine has resulted in fratricide and plunged the entire world into insecurity. From the Phanar, in conversations with our hierarchs and in communications with other religious leaders, we unceasingly appeal for peace and reconciliation, especially in this unjustifiable bloodshed among Orthodox brothers as a result of the unprovoked attack by the Russian Federation on the sovereign territory of Ukraine. We can never accept the callous position taken by Patriarch of Moscow in this regard.

Therefore, beloved and faithful children, allow us warmly to invoke upon all of you the strength of the Almighty God in order that you might continue to serve the Great Church of Christ with your distinguished enthusiasm and loyalty. May God continue to bless you and your families with His abundant mercy and grace.

Address of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom (London, 23.10.2022)

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, beloved brother in Christ,

Your Eminences and Your Graces,

Your Excellencies,

Reverend Priests and Deacons,

Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Throne,

Esteemed Presidents of Parish Councils,

Beloved youth,

Blessed people of God,

We give glory to the Lord, who has counted us worthy to celebrate the Divine Liturgy today in the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. On behalf of the Mother Holy and Great Church of Christ we give our patriarhal blessing to all of you and thank you all for your cordial and moving welcoming. 

In today’s reading from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, we heard how Apostle Paul, a former persecutor of the Christian faith, was called by the Lord to proclaim the good news of the Gospel to the world. It is this message that we wish to deliver to you today from the sacred center of the first throne of the Church of Constantinople. The sacred, agelong institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to cherish and proclaim the apostolic and patristic faith and to give light to the people of God.  

In the midst of her great trials in the twentieth century, the mother Church did not fail to take important initiatives, such as the founding of the Metropolis of Thyateira. Metropolitan Germanos Strinopoulos of Seleucia, former Dean of the Theological School of Halki, was appointed as the first Metropolitan of Thyateira and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in western Europe. He worked very diligently for the strengthening of the new Metropolis and the tightening of relations with the Church of England. The Greek cathedral of Hagia Sophia, this magnificent architectural monument, proved instrumental for the success of his ecclesial service and has been for decades the center of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in this hospitable country. 

In the course of the twentieth century we witnessed with joy the expansion of the Greek population in London, the arrival of thousands of Greek Cypriots, the formation of a robust ship-owning community, and the founding of many new parishes in this city as well as across the United Kingdom. In recent years, many Greek and Cypriot students have flooded this country and joined our Church communities. 

We commemorate with gratitude the former archbishops of this Archdiocese, Athenagoras I (Kavvadas), Athenagoras II (Kokkinakis), Methodios, and Gregorios. We also mention with reverence the Holy Patriarchal and Stauropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, founded by Fr Sophronius, who was recently canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Finally, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the late Metropolitan Kallistos of Diocleia, who taught at Oxford University for thirty-five years and made Orthodox theology widely known both in this country and in the western world. 

We greet the new King of the United Kingdom Charles III, great benefactor of Mount Sinai Monastery of St Catherine, regular pilgrim of Mount Athos and admirer of the Orthodox tradition. We wish him to follow in the footsteps of his late Mother Queen Elizabeth II, whose Christian faith and sense of duty proved exemplary. We also greet with brotherly love the Most Reverend Archbishop of Canterbury Justin, primate of the Church of England.   

We conclude by underlining the significance of the Orthodox presence in the United Kingdom. Our Orthodox faith can offer the treasures of patristic theology and the light of Christ, which dispels the darkness of our modern world. We bless all of you who have gathered here today, the bishops, the priests, and the faithful laity.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, dear sisters and brothers in the Lord. 

ADDRESS By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew At the Enlightened Evening with Young Adults (The Penridge Suite, London, 22 October, 2022)

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain,

Most venerable Hierarchs and reverend clergy,

Distinguished guests,

Beloved young women and men of this blessed Archdiocese,

This evening is truly a special joy for us; this event is something we were very much looking forward to from the moment we looked at the wonderful program prepared by Archbishop Nikitas, who has spoken to us about these regular and refreshing gatherings of young adults. We wish to congratulate all of you, and in particular the initiative of Fr. Nephon Tsimalis and the close collaboration of Mr. Jason Charalambos, for the success of these unique, quarterly opportunities.

Our words to you tonight are not a mere formality. They come from the heart. They are the sincere and paternal hopes of your Patriarch for the role and responsibility that you and your generation have in our world and in our time. All over the world, we witness turmoil and change; you see it in your own country, but it is the same in many parts of the planet. You see how the unprovoked and diabolical war instigated by the Russian Federation on the sovereign territory of Ukraine has global ramifications on the economy, the energy, and the food of so many countries, both developed and developing. Everything that occurs in one part of the planet has direct implications for the rest of the planet, and especially the poor. And if we are to resist facing despondency and despair, then we are called to search deep inside the Word of God and the wealth of our tradition in order – as the First Letter of Peter says – to “be ready always to give an answer to every person who asks us to give account for the hope that lies within us.” (1 Peter 3.15) Our heartfelt prayer is that you will be prepared to do this.

This is precisely what the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church succeeded in doing six years ago, when the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches – along with their Hierarchies and advisors – assembled in order to speak with one voice and remind people that the Church does not live for herself and that the Church cannot remain indifferent to the world; we also declared that our horizons should be open to the contemporary diverse and multifarious world.

But we have done much more than just provide statements. In fact, we have done everything in our power to provide you with the tools and to equip you with the materials to discern the signs and respond to the challenges of our times. This is why, two years ago, we established a special commission to prepare an important and much-needed document about our engagement with each other as human beings and with the issues confronting our societies. The text is entitled “For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” and it has already gained widespread reputation in Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches on what the Holy Spirit is saying to our Church today, as the Book of Revelation says (Revelation 2.7). We encourage you to study the document, which is not a finished text; it does not offer simple or simplistic answers to difficult and complex questions. It is a beginning and an invitation to conversation.

Is this not the goal of your own “enlightened evenings”? Is it not to share and enjoy dialogue and conversation with one another in an atmosphere of love and trust? Conversation is the way that our own hearts are illumined and converted. Conversation is the way that we gain understanding and compassion for others. And conversation is the way that we express our faith and commitment to God. After all, you should never forget that the Son of God is nothing less than the Word of God, who calls us into a personal relationship and friendship with Himself, just as we are doing this evening when we are breaking bread together and enjoying fellowship with one another.

May God continue to bless your meetings. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all throughout your lives.

Ὁμιλία τῆς Α. Θ. Παναγιότητος τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου κ. κ. Βαρθολομαίου κατά τήν χοροστασίαν εἰς τόν Μέγαν Ἑσπερινόν ἐν τῷ Ἱερῷ Ναῷ Ἁγίου Δημητρίου Edmonton (22 Ὀκτωβρίου 2022)

Ἱερώτατε Ἀρχιεπίσκοπε Θυατείρων καί Μ. Βρεταννίας κύριε Νικήτα, 

Ἱερώτατοι και Θεοφιλέστατοι ἀδελφοί,

Εὐλαβέστατοι Πατέρες,

Ἐντιμολογιώτατοι Ἄρχοντες,

Λαέ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἠγαπημένε,

Μέ βαθειά χαρά καί συγκίνησι εὑρισκόμαστε ἀνάμεσά σας, ἀνήμερα τῆς, θείᾳ χάριτι καί εὐδοκίᾳ, τριακοστῆς πρώτης ἐπετείου ἀπό τῆς ἐκλογῆς μας στόν πάνσεπτο Οἰκουμενικό Θρόνο. Πέρυσι τέτοια ἡμέρα, μετά τήν τέλεσι Πατριαρχικῆς καί Συνοδικῆς Θείας Λειτουργίας στό Φανάρι, ἐκφράσεως δοξολο-γίας καί εὐχαριστίας πρός τόν Δοτῆρα παντός ἀγαθοῦ ἐπί τῇ συμπληρώσει τριάκοντα ἐτῶν ταπεινῆς Πατριαρχείας μας, ἑτοιμαζόμασταν νά ἀναχωρήσουμε γιά τίς Ἡνωμένες Πολιτείες καί τήν Ἱερά Ἀρχιεπισκοπή Ἀμερικῆς, τήν ἄλλη μεγάλη Ἐπαρχία μας, ἡ ὁποία ἐπίσης φέτος ἑορτάζει ἑκατό ἔτη ἀπό τήν ἵδρυσί της. Καί σήμερα, ἐδῶ στό Edmonton, συμπανηγυρίζουμε ἐν ἀφάτῳ εὐγνωμοσύνῃ πρός τόν Κύριον τοῦ ἐλέους τήν ἑκατονταετηρίδα τῆς δικῆς σας Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Θυατείρων καί Μ. Βρεταννίας.

Μέ τόν ἀποψινό δέ Μέγα Ἑσπερινό τοῦ Σαββάτου, κατά τόν ὁποῖον ἐπιτελοῦμε καί τήν μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἰακώβου τοῦ Ἀδελφοθέου, πρώτου Ἐπισκόπου καί προστάτου τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Ἱεροσολύμων, μποροῦμε νά ποῦμε ὅτι ξεκινοῦν καί οἱ ἑορταστικές ἐκδηλώσεις γιά τόν Ἅγιο Μεγαλομάρτυρα Δημήτριο, οἱ ὁποῖες πραγματοποιοῦνται μέ ἰδιαίτερη αἴγλη καί λαμπρότητα ὅπου ὑπάρχει ναός τιμώμενος ἐπ᾽ ὀνόματί του. Χαρακτηριστικό παράδειγμα ἀποτελεῖ ὁ ἱστορικός ἱερός ναός σας, μέ τόν ὑπερεκατονταετῆ βίο καί τήν ἐντυπωσιακή ξύλινη ὀροφή, ὁ ὁποῖος ἀπό τό 1980 στεγάζει τήν Ὀρθόδοξη Κοινότητα τοῦ Βορείου Λονδίνου. 

Ὁμολογοῦμε ὅτι μᾶς συγκινεῖ ἰδιαιτέρα ἡ ἀφιέρωσι τοῦ ναοῦ σας στόν Μεγαλομάρτυρα Δημήτριο, ὄχι μόνο λόγῳ τῆς προσωπικῆς μεγάλης εὐλάβειάς μας γιά τόν Ἅγιο τοῦ ὁποίου τό ὄνομα ἐλάβαμε κατά τή βάπτισί μας, ἀλλά καί λόγῳ τοῦ γεγονότος ὅτι ἡ ἐπιλογή σας αὐτή ἔγινε ὡς ἔνδειξι σεβασμοῦ πρός τόν ἀοίδιμο προκάτοχό μας Οἰκουμενικό Πατριάρχη Δημήτριο, τόν ἁπλό καί ταπεινό, τόν Προκαθήμενο τῆς ἀγάπης. Ἄς εἶναι ἡ μνήμη του αἰωνία καί ἄληστος, ἡ δέ ἀξιέπαινη ἀπόφασί σας αὐτή ἄς παραμένῃ εἰς τό διηνεκές ἀψευδής μάρτυς τῶν ἀκαταλύτων δεσμῶν τῆς ἐνορίας σας μέ τή Μητέρα σας Ἐκκλησία!

Ἀπό τό μαρτυρικό Φανάρι ἐρχόμενοι, λοιπόν, ἐπιθυμοῦμε νά ὑπομνήσουμε καί νά ὑπογραμμίσουμε ἐνώπιόν σας μία ἀπό τίς προφητικές ἀλήθειες, τίς ὁποῖες μᾶς ἄφησε ὁ Σωτήρας καί Λυτρωτής μας ὡς φωτεινό ὁδοδείκτη κατά τήν πρόσκαιρη διέλευσί μας ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, καί τίς ὁποῖες ὑπέρ πάντα ἄλλον ἀκολούθησαν καί ἐνσάρκωσαν στή ζωή τους οἱ Ἅγιοι τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας, ὅπως ὁ Ἀδελφόθεος Ἰάκωβος καί ὁ Μυροβλύτης Δημήτριος. Μᾶς εἶπε ὁ Χριστός: «ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔξετε, ἀλλά θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ νενίκηκα τόν κόσμον». Μᾶς προλέγει δηλαδή ὁ Κύριος ὅτι ὡς Χριστιανοί θά συναντοῦμε καί θλίψεις στή ζωή αὐτήν, θλίψεις ἔξωθεν, ἀλλά ἐνίοτε καί βέλη ἐκ τῶν οἰκείων μας. Καί ἄλλοτε μέν οἱ θλίψεις εἶναι εὔκολο νά ὑπερνικηθοῦν, ἄλλοτε δέ πάλι ὀρθώνονται ἐνώπιόν μας ὡς τοῖχος, ὁ ὁποῖος καταπιέζει τήν ψυχή μας καί εξαφανίζει κάθε αἰσιοδοξία καί ἐλπίδα γιά τό μέλλον. Ὅμως, ὁ Χριστός δέν ἀρκέστηκε νά πῇ ὅτι θά έχουμε θλίψεις ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, ἀλλά συμπλήρωσε ἀμέσως: «ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον». Ἔχετε θάρρος, μᾶς λέγει, μήν ἀπελπίζεσθε, μήν ἀπογοητεύεσθε, μή γίνεσθε ἕρμαιο τῆς ἀπαισιοδοξίας, ἡ ὁποία εἶναι γνώρισμα ὀλιγοπιστίας. Ἐμεῖς ἔχουμε ἀρχηγό καί σωτῆρα καί προστάτη καί πατέρα τόν Χριστό, ὁ ὁποῖος νίκησε τόν κόσμο! «Θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον»!

Αὐτός ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου ἀποδίδει μέ παραστατικότητα καί εὑρίσκει τήν πλήρη ἐπαλήθευσί του στήν ἱστορία τῶν προγόνων σας, οἱ ὁποῖοι ἐβίωσαν μέν τήν θλῖψι τοῦ ξεριζωμοῦ, τόν πόνο τῆς ξενιτειᾶς καί τήν πίκρα τῆς προσφυγιᾶς, ἀλλά δέν ἔχασαν τό θάρρος καί τήν πίστιν τους εἰς τόν Θεόν καί κατώρθωσαν νά ἀποκτήσουν γερές ρίζες εἰς τήν νέαν τους πατρίδα καί νά ὀρθοποδήσουν, γενόμενοι ἕνα ἀπό τά δυναμι-κότερα καί εὐυπόληπτα τμήματα τῆς Βρεταννικῆς κοινωνίας. 

Τό παρήγορο αὐτό μήνυμα τοῦ τελειωτοῦ τῆς πίστεώς μας Ἰησοῦ, «θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ νενίκηκα τόν κόσμον», εἶναι ὅ,τι ἀκριβῶς μᾶς χρειάζεται καί κατά τήν ἐποχή μας αὐτήν τῆς συγχύσεως, τῶν ἀλληλοσυγκρουομένων γνωμῶν, τῆς μεγάλης ἀβεβαιότητος, τοῦ αἰσθήματος τῆς ἀνασφαλείας, τοῦ ἀπολο-γισμοῦ γιά τά πρῶτα ἑκατό ἔτη τῆς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς σας, ἀλλά καί τῶν ἐρωτημάτων γιά τόν σχεδιασμό τῆς δευτέρας ἑκατονταετίας τοῦ βίου της. Ἐάν γνωρίζουμε ἐκ τῶν προτέρων ὅτι μποροῦν νά ἔλθουν οἱ θλίψεις καί ἐάν ἔχουμε ἐμπιστοσύνη στήν πρόνοια τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ Ὁποῖος παιδεύει ὅποιον ἀγαπᾷ καί μαστιγεῖ πάντα υἱόν ὅν παραδέχεται, τότε εὐκολώτερα θά τίς ὑπομένουμε, κατά τό ψαλμικόν, «ὅτι ἐγώ εἰς μάστιγας ἔτοιμος»! Τό σθένος αὐτό καί τό ἀδούλωτο καί ἡρωϊκό φρόνημα ὅσων πιστεύουν ἀληθινά στόν νικητή τοῦ κόσμου Χριστόν, μᾶς τό περιγράφει μέ ἐλάχιστες πλήν μεστές ἐννοιῶν λέξεις καί ὁ ποιητής: «θά πάθεις, ναί. Μ᾽ ἄν δέ τό θές, κανείς δέ σέ λυγάει»!

Ἀδελφοί καί τέκνα πολυφίλητα,

Μέ αὐτές τίς ἐλπιδοφόρες σκέψεις χαιρετίζουμε πατρικῶς ὅλους σας καί σᾶς εὐχαριστοῦμε θερμῶς γιά τή συγκινητική ὑποδοχή τήν ὁποία ἐπεφυλάξατε εἰς τήν ἡμετέραν Μετριότητα καί τήν τιμία συνοδεία μας. Ἐπαινοῦμε τόν Ἱερατικῶς Προϊστάμενο Ὁσιολογιώτατο Ἀρχιμανδρίτη κ. Νικόδημο Ἀνα-γνωστόπουλο, καθώς καί τούς ἀξίους συνεφημερίους του, Αἰδε-σιμολογιωτάτους Οἰκονόμο κ. Ἰωάννη Hookway καί Πρεσβύ-τερο Εὐάγγελο Λιασσῆ γιά τήν καθ᾽ ὅλα εὔρυθμη λειτουργία τῆς Κοινότητος, γιά τήν ἔνθεη διακονία τους καί τήν καλήν μαρτυρίαν τους. Τέλος, συγχαρητήρια καί εὐλογία ἀνήκουν καί πρός τόν Πρόεδρον τῆς Ἐντίμου Ἐκκλησιαστικῆς Ἐπιτροπῆς τῆς Κοινότητος, Ἐντιμολογιώτατον Ἄρχοντα κ. Μενέλαον Οὐρρῆν, καί πρός τούς προθύμους συνεργάτας του, πρός τή δραστήρια Φιλόπτωχον Ἀδελφότητα, καθώς καί πρός τούς διδάσκοντες στό Ἑλληνικό καί στό Κατηχητικό Σχολεῖο, ἀλλά καί στό Νηπιαγωγεῖο τῆς Κοινότητος, τῶν ὁποίων πάντων τό φιλογενές ἔργο ἐκτιμοῦμε καί προσευχόμεθα ὑπέρ τῆς ἄνωθεν ἐνισχύσεως αὐτῶν σέ ὅλες τίς ἀξιάγαστες προσπάθειές τους ὑπέρ τοῦ κοινοῦ ἀγαθοῦ καί τῆς κοινῆς προόδου. 

Ὁ Κύριος, ταῖς πρεσβείαις τοῦ ἑορταζομένου Ἁγίου Ἰακώβου τοῦ Ἀδελφοθέου καί τοῦ προστάτου σας Μεγαλο-μάρτυρος Δημητρίου, εἴθε νά σκέπῃ τήν Κοινότητά σας ἀλλά καί ὁλόκληρη τήν ἐνταῦθα Ὁμογένεια. Εὐχόμεθα ἀπό καρδιᾶς τόν ἄνωθεν φωτισμόν στά ἀγαπητά μας παιδιά, τούς μαθητές καί τίς μαθήτριες τῶν σχολείων τῆς Κοινότητός σας, καί σέ ὅλους τούς παρευρισκομένους ἔτη πολλά καί μακρά, εὐλογη-μένα παρά Κυρίου, καί καλόν χειμῶνα!

Ὁμιλία τῆς Α. Θ. Παναγιότητος τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου κ. κ. Βαρθολομαίου κατά τήν Θείαν Λειτουργίαν καί τήν εἰς διάκονον χειροτονίαν τοῦ μοναχοῦ Σωφρονίου εἰς τήν Ἱεράν Πατριαρχικήν καί Σταυροπηγιακήν Μονήν Τιμίου Προδρόμου Essex Αγγλίας (22 Ὀκτωβρίου 2022)

Ἱερώτατε Ἀρχιεπίσκοπε Θυατείρων καί Μεγάλης Βρεταννίας κ. Νικήτα, καί λοιποί τιμιώτατοι ἀδελφοί Ἀρχιερεῖς,

Ὁσιολογιώτατε Ἡγούμενε τῆς Ἱερᾶς ταύτης Μονῆς,


Εὐλαβέστατοι ἱερεῖς καί διάκονοι,

Ὁσιώτατοι μοναχοί, ὁσιώταται μοναχαί,

Ἐντιμολογιώτατοι Ἄρχοντες Ὀφφικιάλιοι,

Λαέ τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐλογημένε,

Εὐδοκίᾳ καί χάριτι τοῦ πανδώρου Θεοῦ, τελοῦμεν σήμερον ἐνταῦθα τήν Θείαν Λειτουργίαν καί τήν εἰς διάκονον χειροτονίαν τοῦ ὁσιωτάτου μοναχοῦ Σωφρονίου. Δοξάζομεν τόν Δομήτορα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας διά τήν εὐλογίαν νά ἐπισκεφθῶμεν προσκυνηματικῶς τήν Ἱεράν Πατριαρχικήν ἡμῶν καί Σταυροπηγιακήν Μονήν Τιμίου Προδρόμου Essex διά πρώτην φοράν μετά τήν ἁγιοκατάταξιν τοῦ Γέροντος Σωφρονίου, ὁ ὁποῖος συμπανηγυρίζει μετά πάντων ἡμῶν κατά τήν εὔσημον ταύτην ἡμέραν.

Ἡ παρουσία μας εἰς τήν Μεγάλην Βρεταννίαν συνδέεται μέ τόν ἑορτασμόν τῆς συμπληρώσεως ἑκατονταετίας ἀπό τῆς ἱδρύσεως ὑπό τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου τῆς «Ἱερᾶς Μητροπόλεως Θυατείρων, Ἐξαρχίας Εὐρώπης Δυτικῆς καί Κεντρῴας». Τό γεγονός αὐτό ἀποτελεῖ καμπήν ὄχι μόνον εἰς τήν ἱστορίαν τῆς Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας, ἀλλά καί εἰς τάς σχέσεις Ἀνατολικοῦ καί Δυτικοῦ Χριστιανισμοῦ. Κατ᾿ οὐσίαν, ἡ πρωτοβουλία αὐτή τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Θρόνου συνιστᾷ σημαντικήν συμβολήν εἰς τήν ἔναρξιν καί τήν πορείαν τῆς Οἰκουμενικῆς κινήσεως.

Καί ἡ ἵδρυσις τῆς Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς τοῦ Τιμίου Προδρόμου Essex τό ἔτος 1959 καί ἡ ἀνύψωσίς της εἰς Σταυροπήγιον κατά τό 1965 εἶναι προέκτασις αὐτοῦ τοῦ γεγονότος. Αὐτή ἡ Μονή, ὑπό τήν πνευματικήν καθοδήγησιν τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωφρονίου, κατέστη ἡ πάλλουσα καρδία τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας εἰς τήν Δύσιν.

Ἡ ζωή τῆς Ἐκκλησίας εἶναι τό «μέγα θαῦμα» τῆς ἀνακαινίσεως τῶν πάντων ἐν Χριστῷ καί τῆς προγεύσεως τῆς ἐρχομένης «πεπληρωμένης χαρᾶς» ἐν τῇ ἐσχατολογικῇ Βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἀνήκομεν εἰς τόν Χριστόν. «Ὁ Χριστός εἶναι τό πᾶν», ἔλεγεν ὁ Ἅγιος Πορφύριος ὁ Καυσοκαλυβίτης. Ἐν Χριστῷ, τῷ δι᾿ ἡμᾶς καί διά τήν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν σαρκωθέντι προαιωνίῳ Λόγῳ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐφανερώθη ἐν τῇ πληρότητι αὐτῆς ἡ ἀλήθεια περί τοῦ Θεοῦ καί τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Εἰς τό πρόσωπον τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ ὁποῖος εἶναι «τό μέτρον πάντων τῶν πραγμάτων, θείων καί ἀνθρωπίνων» (Ἁγίου Σωφρονίου, Ὀψόμεθα τόν Θεόν καθώς ἐστι, 1996, σ. 254), ἀποκαλύπτεται τό μεγαλεῖον τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Ὁ Χριστός ἔσωσε τόν ἄνθρωπον διά τῆς προσλήψεως τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως εἰς τήν θείαν ὑπόστασίν Του. Γράφει ὁ Ἅγιος Σωφρόνιος: «Ν᾿ ἀκολουθήσουμε τόν Χριστό σημαίνει ν᾿ ἀνοιχτοῦμε στή συνείδηση τοῦ ἴδιου τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πού φέρει μέσα Του ὁλόκληρη τήν ἀνθρωπότητα· ὁλόκληρο τό δέντρο χωρίς ἐξαίρεση κανενός φύλλου. Ἄν ἀποκτήσουμε τή συνείδηση αὐτή, θά προσευχόμαστε γιά ὅλους, ὅπως καί γιά τόν ἑαυτό μας» (Ἁγίου Σωφρονίου, Περί πνεύματος καί ζωῆς, 1995, σ. 29).

Ἡ ἀδιάλειπτος ἐπίκλησις τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τήν νοεράν προσευχήν εἶναι τό ἀνεκτίμητον δῶρον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πρός τούς πιστούς, ἡ «βιωμένη χριστοκεντρικότης τῆς χριστανικῆς ὑπάρξεως»». Εἰς τό εὐλογημένον τοῦτο ἀσκητήριον τοῦ Τιμίου Προδρόμου ἡ μονολόγιστος εὐχή εἶναι ὁ στέφανος τῆς μοναστικῆς ζωῆς. Ὁ Πρόδρομος, τό αἰώνιον πρότυπον τῶν μοναστῶν, ἦλθεν,  ὅπως προσφυῶς γράφεται εἰς τό βιβλίον ἩσυχασμόςἩ δροσοβόλος κάμινος τῆς καρδιάς, «γιά νά μαρτυρήσει στήν ἔρημο τήν πρώτη παρουσία τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Καί οἱ μοναχοί φεύγουν στήν ἔρημο νά προαναγγείλουν τόν δεύτερο ἐρχομό Του», τήν Βασιλεία τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος, ἡ ὁποία «δέν εἶναι κοινωνικό ἤ πολιτικό φαινόμενο στήν ἱστορία τῆς ἀνθρωπότητας», ἀλλά «ἡ ἴδια ἡ Παρουσία τοῦ Θεοῦ» (σ. 17). Ἔργο τοῦ μοναχοῦ, γράφει ὁ Ἱερώτατος Μητροπολίτης Περγάμου Ἰωάννης, ὁ φίλος αὐτῆς τῆς Μονῆς, «εἶναι ἡ “φωνή βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ”, ἡ σιωπηλή ἀλλά καί τόσο κραυγαλέα ὑπόμνηση πρός ὅλους μας ὅτι “παράγει τό σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου”» («Ἐκκλησία καί Ἔσχατα», σ. 40). Καί εἰς αὐτήν τήν λειτουργίαν του ὁ μοναχισμός εἶναι σάρξ ἐκ τῆς σαρκός τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἔκφρασις τῆς ἐσχατολογικῆς ὁρμῆς τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ζωῆς. 

Σήμερον, ἀγαλλομένη καί δοξάζουσα τόν οὐράνιον Δοτῆρα παντός ἀγαθοῦ, ἡ Ἁγία τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μεγάλη Ἐκκλησία καλεῖ τόν π. Σωφρόνιον, μέλος τῆς Ἀδελφότητός σας, θεολόγον μέ καταγωγήν ἐκ Ρουμανίας, ἡ διπλωματική ἐργασία τοῦ ὁποίου εἶναι ἀφιερωμένη εἰς τήν διδασκαλίαν τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωφρονίου περί τῆς νοερᾶς προσευχῆς, νά καταστῇ διάκονος τοῦ θεανδρικοῦ Σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 

Καί ἡ ἰδική σου παρουσία εἰς τήν Ἱεράν ταύτην Μονήν, π. Σωφρόνιε, εἶναι μαρτυρία τοῦ ὑπερεθνικοῦ καί οἰκουμενικοῦ χαρακτῆρος τῆς Ἀγίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας, τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς χριστιανικῆς παγκοσμιότητος, τό ὁποῖον ἐξέφραζεν ἐξόχως ὁ Ὅσιος Σωφρόνιος τοῦ Essex, ὁ ὁποῖος, ὅπως γράφει ὁ καθηγητής Γεώργιος Μαντζαρίδης, «ἀδυνατοῦσε νά κατανοήσει ἐθνικό Χριστιανισμό» (Γ. Μαντζαρίδη, Ἡσυχίας Καρποί, 2016. σ. 130). Ὄντως, ἡ Ἐκκλησία εἶναι ὁ χῶρος ὅπου τελεσιουργεῖται ἡ «ἄλλη πλάσις» τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἡ γέννησίς του ὡς «ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ὑποστάσεως» ἐν τῇ Θείᾳ Εὐχαριστίᾳ, ὅπου πάντες «ἕν ἐσμεν» ἐν Χριστῷ. Ἡ εὐχαριστιακή ταυτότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἐκφράζεται ὡς «οὐ ζητοῦσα τά ἑαυτῆς» ἀγάπη (Α’ Κορ, ιγ, 5). Ὁ Ἅγιος Σωφρόνιος θεωρεῖ ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη πρός τούς ἐχθρούς, συμφώνως καί πρός τήν διδασκαλίαν τοῦ Ἁγίου Σιλουανοῦ τοῦ Ἀθωνίτου, εἶναι τό ἀλάθητον κριτήριον τῆς ταυτότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Βλ. Α. Σωφρονίου, Ὁ Ἅγιος Σιλουανός ὁ Ἀθωνίτης, 2003. σ. 293).  

Αὐτῆς τῆς Ἐκκλησίας διάκονος καθίστασαι σήμερον, Ὁσιώτατε, καί, ὅπως πάντα τά μέλη τοῦ ἱεροῦ κλήρου της, ὀφείλεις καί ἐσύ, εἰς τό πνευματικόν καί τό διακονικόν σου ἔργον, νά ἐκπροσωπῇς τό πνεῦμα της. Ἡ Ἁγία τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μεγάλη Ἐκκλησία ηὐλογήθη ὑπό τοῦ ἀγαθοδότου Θεοῦ νά εἶναι φύλαξ ἀκοίμητος τῶν Ἀποστολικῶν καί Πατερικῶν Παραδόσεων, τοῦ δόγματος τῆς πίστεως, τῆς δοξολογικῆς λειτουργικῆς ζωῆς, τῆς κανονικῆς τάξεως, τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἤθους, τοῦ σταυροαναστασίμου τρόπου τοῦ βίου καί τῆς ἐλπίδος τῆς «κοινῆς Βασιλείας», ἐκλήθη νά δίδῃ τήν καλήν χριστιανικήν μαρτυρίαν ἐνώπιον τῶν σημείων τῶν καιρῶν καί ἔναντι τῶν «πειρασμῶν τῆς ἱστορίας». 

Ἀποτελεῖ ἰδιαίτερον προνόμιον καί συνεπάγεται μεγάλην εὐθύνην ἡ ἰδιότης τοῦ κληρικοῦ τοῦ Οἰκουμενικου Πατριαρχείου, μιᾶς κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν διακονικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἀνοικτῆς εἰς τόν κόσμον καί μέ εὐαισθησίαν διά τάς περιπετείας τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ἐλευθερίας. Δέν ὑπάρχει ὑψηλότερον ἀξίωμα ἀπό αὐτό τῆς διακονίας καί τῆς προσφορᾶς. Μεῖνε διακονικός εἰς ὅλην σου τήν ζωήν, ἀνεξαρτήτως τοῦ βαθμοῦ τῆς ἱερωσύνης εἰς τόν ὁποῖον θά εὑρίσκεσαι. Ἡ διακονία τῶν ἀδελφῶν εἶναι πάντοτε συγκεκριμένη πρᾶξις πρός συγκεκριμένους ἀνθρώπους. Δέν ἔχει σχέσιν μέ ἀφῃρημένην κοινωνικότητα καί ἀπρόσωπον φιλανθρωπικήν διάθεσιν. Εἰς τό ἔργον σου αὐτό θά σέ ἐμπνέῃ καί θά σέ κρατύνῃ ὁ Κύριος τοῦ ἐλέους, ὁ οὐκ ἐλθών διακονηθῆναι ἀλλά διακονῆσαι, ὁ πρῶτος διάκονος τοῦ κόσμου, ὁ εὔσπλαγχνος «πλησίον» τῶν «ἀδελφῶν Του τῶν ἐλαχίστων». 

Καί νῦν, τιμιώτατοι ἀδελφοί καί προσφιλέστατα τέκνα ἐν Κυρίῳ, ὁ ὁσιώτατος μοναχός Σωφρόνιος εἰσέρχεται εἰς τά Ἅγια τῶν Ἁγίων, ἔνθα τά φοβερά τελεσιουργεῖται, διά νά λάβῃ διά τῆς Χάριτος τοῦ Παρακλήτου Πνεύματος τά χαρίσματα τοῦ πρώτου βαθμοῦ τῆς ἱερωσύνης. Καλοῦμεν καί παρακαλοῦμεν πάντας ὑμᾶς νά προσευχηθῆτε δι᾿ αὐτόν, διά νά τόν σκέπῃ, πρεσβείαις καί μεσιτείᾳ τοῦ πάτρωνος καί προστάτου του Ὁσίου Σωφρονίου, ὁ Θεός τῆς ἀγάπης, νά τόν κρατύνῃ καί νά τόν καθοδηγῇ εἰς τόν δόλιχον τῆς μοναστικῆς ζωῆς καί τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ του ἔργου. 

Πρόσελθε, Ὁσιώτατε, ἐν ταπεινώσει, ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ ἐμπιστευομένου σοι σήμερον τήν διακονίαν τοῦ θεανδρικοῦ Σώματος Αὐτοῦ, τοῦ εἰπόντος, «ἐάν τις ἐμοί διακονῇ, τιμήσει αὐτόν ὁ Πατήρ» (Ἰωάν. ιβ’, 26). Γένοιτο!          

ADDRESS By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew At the Clergy Dinner Chelsea Harbor Hotel, Friday October 21, 2022

Your Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain,

Beloved Clergy and Devout Community Leaders,

We open with the words of the Prophet and Psalmist David, who assures us “how beautiful and delightful it is for us to be together as brothers” in the Lord!

We would first of all like to tell you how deeply proud and paternal we are feeling on this occasion. Because, while the visit of your spiritual father and Ecumenical Patriarch is an occasion for celebration on the one hundredth anniversary of your blessed Archdiocese, it is more so for us an opportunity to look into the eyes and to greet personally all of you as the servants in the Lord’s vineyard, as the ones who translate and incarnate all of the theology and tradition of our Church on the level of the parishes and in the language of the people. This means that – deep in our heart – we recognize that, beyond all of the ceremonies and festivities during this historic visit, our time with you is truly special and sacred. And we are sincerely grateful that His Eminence has organized this splendid evening with you and for you.

As you know, our saintly predecessor on the Throne of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, observed that while you are still on earth, you are actually standing in heaven. Such is the miracle and wonder, the dignity and office of the priesthood. Like another Prophet Elijah, you bring down from heaven the fire of the Holy Spirit so that everyone’s soul may be illumined and redeemed. Of course, as we repeat during each Divine Liturgy: “No one is worthy to approach, draw near, or minister to the King of Glory . . . But because of His ineffable and immeasurable love for humankind . . . He looks down upon us as His sinful and unworthy servants.” 

So it is a pleasure and a privilege for us to meet those in each of our Eparchies who serve the people of God at the altar of the church. Because that is where all of us – those of us at the Phanar in Istanbul, and those of you in each and every parish as well as each and every ministry of this Archdiocese in the United Kingdom – are united in and as the Body of Christ. And, as again we say in the Divine Eucharist, wherever “the Lamb of God is separated and distributed, eaten but never consumed, then all those who partake are sanctified.”

We embrace each and every one of you, dearest Clergy and Ministers, beloved Presbyters and Deacons. We value and respect your service and your sacrifice. And we promise you that you are always remembered and included at the Holy Prothesis as well as each time that we commemorate “every Orthodox episcopate, the honorable priesthood and the diaconate in Christ.” We especially pray for the challenges that you and your communities face during these difficult times.

The entire world is only just emerging from the global pandemic that threatened and took so many lives, while at the same time revealing the generosity and dedication of doctors and carers. And today, the unjustifiable attack by Russia on Ukraine has resulted in fratricide and plunged the entire world into insecurity. We appeal to you to pray constantly and fervently for an end to this war, and that the leaders of the Russian Federation and Moscow Patriarchate may bring an end to this wrongdoing so that God’s peace may prevail. 

Dear friends, may God abundantly bless and reward, with His infinite grace and mercy, both you and your families. We want you to know that we look forward to welcoming you at the Phanar, along with your families, friends and parishioners.

Address of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW at the Holy Temple of St Nectarios at Battersea, London on Friday, 21 October 2022

Your Eminence, Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Reverend Clergy,

Esteemed Archons,

Community leaders,

Distinguished guests,

It is with particular joy that we address you this evening as we celebrate this Vesper service here at this beautiful Church of Saint Nectarios in Battersea, having just arrived in London to celebrate together with all of you the centennial of our beloved and sacred Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς μας. Commemorating this significant anniversary for Orthodoxy in Great Britain, we convey to every one of you the collective prayers and well-wishes of the Mother Church of Constantinople, its hierarchs, clergy, and faithful. 

Already since the 17th century, many Greek Orthodox Christians, including those from our Queen of Cities, Asia Minor, the Aegean islands, the Greek mainland, and, eventually, Cyprus, were settling in the British Isles, building holy temples, acquiring others, and establishing communities despite facing the many challenges associated of moving to a foreign land. 

However, it was a century ago, during a period of upheaval and chaos for our local and native population in Asia Minor, that countless refugees were forced to leave their homelands and relocate to Greece, Europe, and elsewhere. It was at this time that the Mother Church of Constantinople established this eparchy to unify the Orthodox communities of Western and Central Europe, namely in areas where Orthodoxy was a minority, thus ensuring the spiritual care for the faithful here. This context led to the bestowal of the important and Apostolic title of Thyateira upon the See based in this great global city, thus keeping one of the seven historical churches of the Revelation alive in exile and maintaining a link to our native lands.

Many things have changed during the past one hundred years, and your communities have welcomed numerous faithful from various backgrounds and walks of life who have come to all corners of this Archdiocese, but the mission of the Holy and Great Church of Christ remains constant here and throughout the world. Already looking forward to the future and recognizing the great potential in this historical eparchy, it is from our Venerable and Martyric Centre that we encourage you to continue to strive and work together under the leadership of Archbishop Nikitas in order to strengthen further and build the “Divine Trust” that you have inherited, τήν πατρογονική κληρονομιά καί παρακαταθήκη.

Further reflecting on what unites us, we note another tie between your local parish community here and the Mother Church, and this is located in the person of your patron saint, the Holy Hierarch Nectarios, whose memory we will commemorate soon at the beginning of November. As many of you may know, the Saint was born in nearby Silivria in Thrace in 1846. He eventually moved to our Great City for several years before continuing his studies and undertaking his pastoral mission in Greece and Africa. Despite the injustices and difficulties that he faced throughout his earthly life, his humility and example were among the reasons why the Holy and Sacred Synod – under the chairmanship of our predecessor, the Great Patriarch Athenagoras – recognized him as a saint. Therefore, noting his recognition and veneration throughout the world, we note that, for several years now, we have conducted a pilgrimage to Silivria and hope to do so again in a few weeks to honour this Saint in his birthplace. In like manner, we hope that you follow his example closely to continue your ministry and social support of the broader community, continuing to be good representatives of Christ’s Church in a world that is becoming increasingly secular and thirsts for the truth of the Holy Gospel. 

Therefore, thanking you for the warm hospitality that you have shown to our humble person and entourage this evening, we greet the Reverend Protopresbyter Christodoulos Christodoulou, Pastor of this parish, and all the members of this community, and congratulate you for all the accomplishments that you have achieved throughout the years, and reciprocate by inviting you to visit the sacred sites in and near the shores of the Bosporus, including Silivria.

It is with these thoughts that we begin our visit to England, asking that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ – through the prayers of Saint Nectarios – bless each and every one of you all always.

Προσφώνησις τῆς Α. Θ. Παναγιότητος τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου κ. κ. Βαρθολομαίου κατὰ τὴν ὑποδοχὴν εἰς τὸν Ἱερὸν Ναὸν Ἁγίων Πάντων (21 Ὀκτωβρίου 2022)

Μὲ βαθεῖαν συγκίνησιν καὶ ὁλόθερμον εὐχαριστίαν πρὸς τὸν ἐν Τριάδι Θεόν, ἱστάμεθα ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, μετὰ τῆς τιμίας ἡμῶν συνοδείας, ἐπὶ τοῦ ἐδάφους τοῦ Ἡνωμένου Βασιλείου, τῆς κραταιᾶς χώρας τῆς Μεγάλης Βρεταννίας, εἰς τὴν περιώνυμον πρωτεύουσαν αὐτῆς, τὸ κοσμοπολιτικὸν Λονδῖνον, καὶ μάλιστα εἰς τὸν περικαλλῆ Ἱερὸν Καθεδρικὸν Ναὸν τῶν Ἁγίων Πάντων Camden Town. Ὡς γνωστόν, ὁ Ἱερὸς Ναὸς οὗτος ἱδρύθῃ τὸ ἔτος 1948 καὶ ἀπὸ τότε εἶναι τὸ κέντρον τοῦ Κυπριακοῦ Ἑλληνισμοῦ εἰς τὸ Λονδῖνον.

Χιλιάδες Ἑλληνοκύπριοι ἀδελφοί μας ἠναγκάσθησαν νὰ ἐγκαταλείψουν τὴν Μεγαλόνησον λόγῳ τῶν ἐθνικῶν περιπετειῶν, καὶ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν Βρεταννίαν, εἰργάσθησαν σκληρὰ καὶ διεκρίθησαν ὡς ἐπιστήμονες καὶ ἐπιχειρηματῖαι. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία τῶν Ἁγίων Πάντων ἦτο πάντοτε τὸ ὁρμητήριον διὰ τοὺς ἀγῶνας τῶν Κυπρίων διὰ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς πολυαγαπημένης ἰδιαιτέρας πατρίδος των.

Ἡ προσήλωσις τῶν Κυπρίων εἰς τὴν πίστιν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας καὶ εἰς τὰς παραδόσεις τοῦ Γένους ὑπῆρξεν ἀξιοθαύμαστος. Διεκρίθησαν διὰ τὴν ἐργατικότητα καὶ τὴν ἀφοσίωσιν εἰς τὴν Ὀρθοδοξίαν καὶ τὸ Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον. Συγχαίρομεν καὶ ἐπευλογοῦμεν τὴν εὐσέβειαν καὶ τὴν πρόοδον τῶν Κυπρίων ἀδελφῶν, οἱ ὁποῖοι ἐστήριξαν τὸ ἔργον τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Θυατείρων καὶ Μεγάλης Βρεταννίας καὶ ἐπρωτοστάτησαν εἰς τὴν ἵδρυσιν νέων Κοινοτήτων, Ἐκκλησιῶν καὶ σχολείων. Τέλος, ἀπευθύνομεν ἐγκάρδιον χαιρετισμὸν καὶ περιπτυσσόμεθα ἀδελφικῶς τὴν ὑμετέραν περισπούδαστον Ἱερότητα, τὸν προσφιλέστατον Ἀρχιεπίσκοπον Θυατείρων καὶ Μεγάλης Βρεταννίας κ. Νικήταν, τοὺς περὶ ὑμᾶς ἀδελφοὺς Ἀρχιερεῖς, τὸν εὐλαβέστατον ἱερὸν Κλῆρον, τὸν εὐλογημένον πιστὸν λαὸν τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς, τὸν Πρόεδρον καὶ τὰ μέλη τῆς Κοινότητος τῶν Ἁγίων Πάντων, τὰ μέλη τῆς Φιλοπτώχου Ἀδελφότητος, καὶ τὰς νεανικὰς ὀργανώσεις, καὶ βέβαια χαιρετίζομεν τὰς ἀρχὰς τῆς φιλοξένου καὶ εὐγενοῦς χώρας ταύτης.

Ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου, μεσιτείαις τῶν Ἁγίων Πάντων, εἴη μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν.

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