US President Joseph Biden welcomed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his entourage to the White House on October 25, 2021. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
According to an official release from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the discussion involved the “shared sense of urgency ushered by the climate crisis.”
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 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 also expressed his sincere hope for the re-opening of Halki Seminary, which was forcibly closed fifty years ago by Turkish authorities and remains shuttered.
Bartholomew also met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken the same day in the James Monroe Conference Room of the State Department.
This is the first time that the Ecumenical Patriarch has met personally with the Secretary of State. The two discussed various issues of concern to Orthodox Christians in the United States and throughout the world as well as about the vision and ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to promote inter-religious dialogue and environmental awareness.
In particular, the Ecumenical Patriarch raised concerns about the plight of Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa, expressing his hope for stability and religious freedom in the region.
He also addressed the urgent need for immediate political action in response to the climate crisis, underlining the responsibility of all leaders to fulfil their promises to address climate change.
Finally, he emphasized the vital importance of inter-religious cooperation among all faith leaders for the sake of mutual tolerance and peaceful coexistence around the globe.
In a statement, media spokesman Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis noted: “The Ecumenical Patriarch and the Secretary of State held an extended and productive discussion on a number of issues. His All-Holiness raised concerns about the plight of Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa, addressed the urgent need for appropriate political action in response to the climate crisis, and emphasized the role of inter-religious dialogue for mutual tolerance and peaceful coexistence.”
The White House released its own statement.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. met today with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and congratulated him on thirty years of moral and spiritual leadership as Ecumenical Patriarch. The President expressed relief at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s speedy recovery. They discussed efforts to confront climate change, steps to end the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Their meeting underscored the critical role that faith communities play in confronting the range of global challenges we all face, as well as the decades-long friendship and partnership between President Biden and His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch.”
Photo: GOA/D. Panagos
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