April 2004

PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF PASCHA 2004

(translation)

Ref. No. 132

PETROS VII

BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA, TO THE FULLNESS OF OUR APOSTOLIC AND PATRIARCHAL THRONE, GRACE AND MERCY AND PEACE FROM OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.

My dear and beloved children in Christ – Christ is Risen!

Amazement constrains the hearts of all who regard our King and Master Jesus Christ risen in glory and honour and mighty power, Him who came down from Heaven beyond all concept and dwelt as man among us, so that all who believe in Him could rise with Him in the coming and already present in the Church Kingdom of Glory of the Father who is without beginning and the Only-Begotten Son and the Life-Giving Spirit.

The Resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ totally and essentially answers the question about death, which torments human thought, as it stands ecstatically before the cause of death and destruction, which is not able to be answered by logic, albeit that death and destruction are manifested in human nature, according to the daily experience of all.

The causes of death have often been sought in the environment’s natural and worldly order and have been researched by philosophy, while the so-called “natural sciences” in the past, and up until the present times, continually suggest improved answers, compile new theories and compare the facts given from many sources.

Despite the most obvious progress of science, the development of technology, the evolution of philosophical thought and the pleasures of art, despite the changes in human societies and the many polarized conditions of life, death remains the greatest and most critical question, even though during the course of the life of persons and on the whole it is minimized, suddenly appearing and being philosophized only after the death of a loved one.

The Church, based on the experience of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, confronts the question of death with a long and composed theological essay, which is articulated by reporting to the person seeking the answer throughout every historic age and in whichever civilization, giving him the one and salvific answer, or rather, the experience of it, in order that his existential distress may be alleviated. The Church’s act rises from the unity of the two natures in Christ, in the holy person of Whom are united “unaltered, inseparably, unchangeably and indivisibly” the human with the divine nature.

Logic and the categories of logic shrink before this terrible mystery, the one kept by the Church and described by logic only during its many consequences, it offers sure rest and delight, permanent enjoyment and pleasure, undiminished joy and delight. Death is overthrown by Christ, decay ceases, the living do not die, the dead arise and “no one remains in the tomb”, but is buried and rises together with Jesus.

In this context, ecclesiastical conscience is centered on the experience of the Resurrection, which it also liturgically continues during the Eucharistic anaphora, returning to God His own gifts and offering to the Creator and Preserver of the universe His own resurrected nature: “Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all”, as we confess in the Divine Liturgy.

The contribution of the Church of Alexandria to the theology of the Incarnation and its results for humanity, of which the Resurrection is the central point, the pivot, lever and power, is shown in many ways, as also through the teachings of our Holy Father and Teacher St. Athanasios the Great, the exceptional servant of the entire body of the Church and our Predecessor: “That is why wherever the body of man has been destroyed, there Jesus heals it with His own Body and wherever the soul of man was kept by death, there Christ reveals the human soul as His own so that He may appear destructible as a man who cannot avoid death and so as God He will dissolve the destruction of death so that wherever decay had been sowed, there incorruptibility would rise and, where death had its kingdom, He would make His presence felt as a human being to reveal immortality” (St Athanasios, Patriarch of Alexandria – According to Apollinarios 1:17)

My dear children in Christ,

The burial of ecclesiastical experience through the theological word and the Apostolic tradition re-enacts the entire faith of the Church in the God-man Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead, and that is why Pascha constitutes “the feast of feasts and celebration of celebrations”, the chief and leader among days, during which we celebrate not materially, but spiritually, not mournfully but silently, not dramatically but humbly.  We celebrate in a community of Grace the attack of life against death, the prevalence of incorruptibility over ruin, the everlasting life of human nature over destruction, life-giving love over disruptive fear, the unity of people in Christ over the individualistic delusion of divisive interest.

Truly, the missionary deed inaugurated on earth by Christ, where all of us who confess Him as Saviour and Redeemer constitute a united organic body as members, is a mission of love and Resurrection, a mission of joy and peace, a mission of eucharistic gathering and of prayer of expectation. For this reason, the risen Jesus when appearing to His Holy Apostles preaching the word of joy and peace, blessed the Bread and the Cup of eucharistic pleasure, through which the “enlighteners of the world” were equipped before their mission to the nations, for which they worked, bearing great fruit which is fragrant and sweet-smelling.

From the Great City of Alexandria, where our Apostolic Throne of the Holy Glorious Apostle and Evangelist Mark is situated and having in our midst  Jesus, the resplendent Leader, the vanquisher of destruction and the giver of the fullness of life, and being partakers of the gifts of the Resurrectional Anaphora, we pray that the Light of the life-giving Holy Sepulchre graces all the children of our glorious and Apostolic Throne, and grant to their hearts and bodies the enjoyment of the inexhaustible, limitless and inalienable divine gifts, which are not taken from death and are not subject to destruction.

Fervent intercessor to the Leading Guide of Life and the bountiful giver of excellent gifts, who is Risen from the dead

+ Petros VII

Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa

In the Great City of Alexandria

HOLY PASCHA 2004

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OFFICIAL VISIT OF H.E. ARCHBISHOP LEON OF KARELIA & ALL FINLAND TO THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

It is brought to the attention to the pious Orthodox Christians that His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland will undertake an official visit to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa from the 14th to the 20th April 2004. His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa will receive the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland in an official service at the Patriarchal Church of St Savvas the Sanctified on Thursday 15th April 2004 and will concelebrate with him on Sunday 18th April 2004 in the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos of the Arab-speaking Community. The programme of the services is as follows:

Thursday 15/04/2004 

Doxology   12.00 noon – Patriarchal Church of St Savvas

Sunday     18/04/2004

Orthros – 08h30 Holy Church of the Dormition (Arab-speaking Community)

Divine Liturgy – 09h00 – Concelebrated by both Primates

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ARRIVAL OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND IN EGYPT

On Wednesday, 14 April 2004, His Eminence Leo, Archbishop of Karelia & All Finland arrived in Alexandria, on an official visit to the Church of Alexandria until the 20 April 2004. He was accompanied by Reverend Father Mikko Sidoroff and Deacon Ioannis Lambropoulos. His Eminence is undertaking an official and peaceful visit to the Primate of the Alexandrian Church.

His Eminence arrived at the El Nuzha International Airport of Alexandria at 8:15 pm and was received by His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, together with the General Patriarchal Vicar H.E. Irenaios of Pilousion, the Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria H.G George, Bishop of Niloupolis, and the clergy of the Patriarchate. Also present were the Consul General of Greece Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou and the Honorary Consul of Finland in Alexandria Mr Omar El Hadidi.

His Beatitude welcomed His Eminence to Alexandria, wished him a pleasant stay and held a short meeting with him.

His Eminence the Archbishop of Finland and his entourage, accompanied by the Patriarch then went to the Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza Hotel where they will be staying.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SECOND DAY OF THE OFFICIAL VISIT OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF KARELIA & ALL FINLAND TO THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

On the morning of 15 April 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by H.E. Irenaios of Pilousion and H.G. George, Bishop of Nilopolis, took the esteemed visitor, His Eminence Leo, Archbishop of Karelia & All Finland and his entourage, on a conducted tour of the Greek block in Alexandria.

At the Greek Consulate, the Head of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland was received by the Consul General of Greece Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou and the staff of the consulate. After a meeting held in the office of the Consul, Mrs Athanasiadou took His Eminence and his entourage on a conducted tour of the consulate, telling him about the great benefactors of Alexandria and they then visited the museum of the colonial press (known as the Michaelides Museum) and the Chapel of St Aikaterini which is in the Consulate.

His Eminence was then taken to the offices of the Hellenic Community where he was received by its President Mr Haralambos Katsimbris and members of the Council of the Community. During the meeting which took place in the boardroom, Mr Katsimbris informed His Eminence about the history of the first and oldest Greek Community of Alexandria and its current progress after which they toured the grounds of the Community buildings as well as the Greek Schools.

At 12 noon, according to the programme, the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne and His Eminence arrived at the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of St Savvas the Sanctified where the standard Doxology was performed for the arrival of His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland. At the entrance of the Patriarchal Church, His Eminence was received by the lined up clergy of the Patriarchate.

After the Resurrection Doxology the Patriarch officially welcomed the Finnish Archbishop. In his address, among other things, he stressed the good relations which govern the two churches especially in the Missionary effort where the Church of Finland contributes considerably to the operation of the Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary, from where all the African clergy and catechists graduate.  

Among other things, the Patriarch also said the following: “Today we feel great joy, for during Bright Week we receive a dear brother and well-known ecclesiastical figure in this Venerable Centre of our Patriarchal Throne. Our joy is multiplied as His Eminence is from the European north, from a country of esteemed culture and great progress, a true model of social grants, welfare for the citizen and open spirit. However, Your Eminence, our place of residence is also a model of mutual respect and love of one for another, for him who is different, whether that difference is one of religion or whether it is one of nationality…The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, Your Eminence, contrasts terrorism and financial recession with the missionary activity among Africans. It promotes service to the poor against uncontrolled technological progress. It serves the ailing brother as well as the one seeking the peace of the spirit and the serenity of the soul. In this effort of ours we have as companions and co-counselors our brother Primates of the Churches, the beloved in the Holy Spirit Archbishops, Metropolitans and Bishops, among whom you personally and the Church of Finland hold an especially distinguished position. Our love is expressed through your contribution and the programmes of our Patriarchate are also your achievements.”

In his reply (which was made in Finnish and simultaneously translated into Greek), His Eminence the Archbishop also referred to the good relations which govern the two Churches and to the continuing co-operation in the great effort of the Evangelization of our African brethren. He mentioned the presence of a Finnish missionary on African soil who has the blessing of the Patriarch and among other things said the following: “We are especially happy and emotional that we have been given the possibility of enjoying the hospitality of the Ancient Church of Alexandria. In this way, we are given the opportunity on the one hand of continuing the warm and heartfelt connection which we tasted one year ago in Constantinople and a few years ago in Finland and on the other hand of deepening the bonds of love and respect which govern the relations of the Autonomous Church of Finland and of the Venerable Patriarchate of Alexandria…Naturally, the action of the Holy Spirit has not ceased. This is revealed in the mission work which under your guidance takes place throughout the African continent. The Patriarchate was always the corner stone in the Evangelization of the message of the Resurrection in Africa. We are happy, also, due to the fact that the Orthodox Church of Finland plays a part in this effort in its own humble way…With the blessing of the Patriarch of Alexandria the mission of the Orthodox Church of Finland has been in operation for many years, today with one missionary, although previously there were many more. My joy is proved by the especially positive relations of the Church of Finland in its support of Mission. Many parishes of our Metropolises actively support Mission on a secular level.

I believe that this positive climate will continue in the future too. The relations between our Churches are relations of love and closeness, independent of the great geographical distances. A few years ago we had the opportunity of hosting Your Beatitude and during your stay there you had the opportunity of getting to know the conditions of our Church closely. This memory of your visit lives in our hearts…”

The doxology was attended by the Consul General of Greece Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria Mr Haralambos Katsimbris, the Presidents of Hellenic Societies and Associations of Alexandria, Diplomatic and Community Officials, Arab-speaking Orthodox Christians and many pilgrims from Greece and Cyprus.

A reception was then hosted in the Great Hall of the monastery. Afterwards the two Primates went to the Patriarchal Office and discussed various topics and especially that of Missions. At noon, His Beatitude hosted a welcoming luncheon in the Patriarchal Refectory of the Monastery of St Savvas for the Finnish Archbishop and his entourage. During the luncheon, the good relations between the two Churches were again stressed as well as their excellent co-operation in the field of Mission.

Among other things the Patriarch said: “We honour the art and tradition of the Orthodox flock of your Church, and through this visit of yours here we connect it to our tradition and history, seeing as, in the framework of inter-Orthodox as well as inter-Christian relations, we work together in a spirit of love and co-operation. This spirit of the deepest conscience of your Church, which is not influenced by tendencies of worldly Christian thought, is fully expressed in the fraternal relations of the Church of Finland both with the First-throned Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as with the Second-throned Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, to which you contribute to its missionary vision, especially in East and West Africa…”

His Eminence then referred to the history of the Church of Finland, to the love with which the Mother Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate surrounds her and to the good and special relations between the Churches of Alexandria and Finland. Characteristically he said: “…We believe that also in the next few years the Autonomous Church of Finland will dynamically spread the Gospel of Christ and will bring to our country the continual tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The inspiration in our efforts is the example of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Although the external conditions are different, the work of these two Churches, our work, is the same.”

On the afternoon of the same day there ensued a conducted tour of the Patriarchal Palace which is being re-modeled, the Cathedral of the Annunciation which is being restored and the new library of the Patriarchate for which Finland helped and is helping in every possible way.

That night His Beatitude hosted a dinner for His Eminence and his entourage at a well-known restaurant in Alexandria. After dinner the Finnish Archbishop gave gifts of Finnish art to the Alexandrian Primate, saying the following: “The people of Finland remember your good soul and your smiling face. We have already enjoyed with you the first twenty-four hours in Alexandria. We thank you very much and are eager to spend the following days with you and especially to concelebrate with you…”

His Beatitude thanked him for everything and for the gifts but especially for the contribution of his Church in West and East Africa, with the building of Churches and Schools and the opening of wells and wished for the continuation of the good co-operation, which His Eminence later assured him of in his reply.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND IN CAIRO

His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland departed by car on the morning of 16 April 2004 for a two-day visit to Cairo. On their arrival in the Egyptian capital, they visited the archaeological site of the pyramids of Giza where they were taken on a conducted tour of the Museum and the other monuments.

They then went on to the Holy Monastery of St George in Old Cairo, where they were received by the Head of the Monastery, H.G. Theophylaktos, Bishop of Babylon. After time spent in veneration and a conducted tour of the Monastery (Church, Chapels, Museum, Cemetery, etc) they attended an official luncheon in the Monastery Refectory. During the meal, the esteemed visitor mentioned the honour in which he holds both the Great Martyr St George as well as the fact of the “flight into Egypt” of the newborn Christ which, according to tradition, took place on the spot where the Monastery stands today. He also referred to the value and use of the maintenance of ecclesiastical works of art which takes place in his Archdiocesan see, connecting it to the maintenance works which are being undertaken at the Monastery, while also expressing his gratitude and thanks for the hospitality. An exchange of gifts was then made.

Later in the afternoon, they went to the Holy Cathedral of St Nicholas and to the adjacent Vicariate of Cairo which are undergoing radical renovation and then went on to venerate the Chapel and the Cell of St Nektarios and were informed on the progress of the works and the entire tasks of the Vicariate which are the responsibility of H.G. Alexios, Bishop of Nitria, Patriarchal Vicar in Cairo and his clergy.

The group then went on to visit the Holy Church of the Theotokos in Heliopolis, where they blessed the faithful present as well as the adjacent schools (Nursery School, Primary, High and Lyceum), and also the rest of the community area which facilitate and extend the educational and other work of the Hellenic Community of Cairo. The visiting Archbishop of Finland was told about and admired the buildings, the work being done and the expanse of activities of the powerful Hellenic Community of Cairo which then hosted a dinner in their honour. Present at the dinner were H.E. Nicholas, Metropolitan of Hermoupolis, the above-mentioned Bishops, their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Cyprus and Finland Messrs F Anastasiou and H Mantyvaara, the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Greek Embassy Mr Hatzimichelakis, the Consuls of Greece and Finland Messrs H Asteriades and T Kivela, the President and select members of the Hellenic Community of Cairo, the clergy of the region and other invited guests.

The President of the Hellenic Community of Cairo Mr Ch. Kavalis, in his address, expressed the honour and the joy of the Greek speaking flock of the Patriarchate of Alexandria – which, under the living example and intense inspiration of His Beatitude is constantly on a path of progress towards the future – for it receives and hosts the Head of the Finnish Church.

The two honoured guests then replied appropriately, and the Archbishop of Finland expressed together with his joy the historic and continually developing relations between the countries of Greece and Finland but also between the Church of Finland and the Patriarchate of Alexandria and recalled the welcome of the Patriarch of Alexandria in Finland and his visit to Cairo twenty years previously. The Patriarch of Alexandria praised the contribution of the Church of Finland to the Patriarchate both in its missionary activity as well as in its considerable contribution to the Patriarchal Library of Manuscript Codes which will soon to be ready for the use of special experts. An exchange of gifts then took place.  

The dinner was hosted at the Ramsis Hilton Hotel, where His Eminence and his entourage stayed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

COMPLETION OF THE VISIT OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND TO CAIRO

His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Finland, visited the Archaeological Museum of Cairo, the second largest in the world, on the morning of 17 April 2004 and they were taken on a conducted tour, marveling from close up at the archaeological treasures of Egypt.

They then went on to visit  the Holy Churches of Ss Constantine and Helen in Cairo, St Catherine’s, a dependency of the Holy Monastery of St Catherine’s in Sinai and  the Holy Archangels of the Arab-speaking community of Cairo. Everywhere they went, the two Primates were welcomed with enthusiasm by the parish priests, the Community Councils and the gathered faithful to whom they addressed paternal words of love and Resurrection blessings.

His Eminence the Archbishop of Finland had the opportunity to verify the maintenance works of the holy churches and the warm “spiritual concern under the guidance of His Beatitude, the Hierarchs and the clergy of the Patriarchate”, as he characteristically said. He expressed his many and warm thanks for the hospitality with which he was received by all, everywhere that he has been, stressing the relation between the spiritual acme of the Orthodox Christians in Egypt, with the missionary activity which takes place on the African continent, as through them the relation of love and co-operation between the two Churches of Finland and Alexandria are confirmed and constantly extended.

Afterwards the two Primates went to the Ambassadorial Residence of His Excellency the Finnish Ambassador in Egypt, Mr H Manlyvaara, who, together with his wife, hosted an official luncheon in their honour. Present at the luncheon were His Grace Alexios, Bishop of Nitria and His Grace Theophylaktos Bishop of Babylon (Old Cairo), the Ambassador of Cyprus Mr F Anastasiou, the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Greek Embassy Mr Hatzimichelakis, the Consuls General of Greece and Finland Messrs H Asteriades and T Kivela, as well as the clergy who are accompanying the two Primates.

During the luncheon, His Excellency the Finnish Ambassador addressed the two Primates and the diplomats present most warmly and stressed the value of the work of the Orthodox Church in Finland, which, although it has a small flock, plays a considerable spiritual and cultural role both in Finland and in the relations which the Orthodox Church of Finland has formed and continuously extends with the other worldwide Churches and the sate officials wherever they have their jurisdiction.

Afterwards, the Archbishop of Finland spoke and after first thanking the hosting Ambassador and the rest of those present, referred to important points in the historical road of the Orthodox Church, to his joy in meeting Finns during his various travels throughout the world and also to the value of the liturgical icons, because for theology, their operation in Orthodox worship, as well as their maintenance, the Holy Archdiocese of Finland publishes a special periodical. He mentioned the relations between His Church and the Patriarchate of Alexandria and went on to wish for the continual development of the relations of the Ambassadorial leaders during the carrying out of their many (financial, ecclesiastical, cultural etc) responsibilities.

Finally, His Beatitude, the Patriarch of Alexandria spoke, and with warm words expressed his deep satisfaction and gratitude for the luncheon, during the current Paschal season in which the Church promotes peace and love and he referred to the two thousand year old see of the Patriarchate in Egypt and the multi-faceted work in Africa. He also stressed his good memories of the Church and people of Finland, according to his personal experience during his many visits to the beautiful country of the European north, where the leaders and the faithful of the various faiths and religions work together for the progress of man and their country. The Finnish tax system not only allows the good operation of the local religious communities, among which the Orthodox Church holds the second official position, but the contribution of the Finnish state through the Church to the sister Churches around the world, as a noteworthy example of contribution to the missionary work, which is the task and responsibility of all Christians. Finally, in ending, he wished His Excellency the Ambassador and to all present success in their work.

Late in the afternoon, the two Primates left by road for Alexandria.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CON-CELEBRATION WITH THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND

His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Finland, visited Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church on the morning of the 18th April 2004, and had a short but meaningful meeting with him prior to going to the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos of the Arab-speaking Community of Alexandria, where they con-celebrated the bloodless sacrifice together with His Eminence Nicholas Archbishop of Hermoupolis, His Grace George Bishop of Niloupolis, the clergy accompanying the Archbishop and the clergy of the Patriarchate.

During the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarch of Alexandria addressed his esteemed guest with warm words and having referred to the theological meaning of “Bright Sunday” during which the Church remembers the Apostle Thomas’ touching of the risen body of Jesus, he stressed the following: “We are extremely happy today that we are concelebrating and feasting with a special friend, brother and supporter. His Eminence the Archbishop of Finland, Head of the Autonomous Church of Finland is here among us, after accepting our invitation. He is here that together we may express and declare to all, that we are pervaded by the common wish to serve the Church. Although His Eminence leads a Church whose structure, composition, boundaries as well as organization are obviously different from the corresponding ones of our Patriarchate, we are united with strong bonds and relations of love and we walk together in the communion of the Church.  As you can see, Your Eminence, the flock of our Patriarchate if multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, that is why today we are happy to be here con-celebrating in this majestic Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos of our Arab-speaking brothers and children. The historic subjection to our Patriarchal Throne of many and differing children, has formed a universal conscience, the direct and visible result of which is complete respect for the difference in each person or group of persons. This direct fruit of the beneficial and profound operation of the Holy Spirit, from the civilized and prosperous nations of the European north, from where you have come to us, Your Eminence and Holy Brother, is favoured in every way and in all loyalty in the principles of direct ecclesiastical life”.

In his reply, His Eminence thanked His Beatitude for his hospitality, mentioned aspects of the feast, and underlined the ecclesiological beginnings and consequences of the Resurrection, stressing: “The miracle of the Resurrection surpasses every limit of linguistic and cultural boundaries, for it is directed at all  nations, as is proved by this present con-celebration. Although our languages and cultures are different, we are united by a common belief in the risen Christ. The Finnish Orthodox Church has been operating autonomously under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for more than eighty years and has sixty thousand faithful who are divided into three metropolitan provinces. Our Churches, despite the difference in their operation, are united, for our work, in other words the spreading of the Gospel, is common. We pray that your work will continually develop so that through it our mutual assistance can be possible”.

An exchange of commemorative gifts was made. A great number of people both from the Greek-speaking as well as the Arab-speaking flock of the Patriarchate attended the Divine Liturgy, as did a number of dignitaries, among whom were the Consuls General of Orthodox countries who have their seats in Alexandria, the Community leaders and representatives of Associations.

Afterwards, all present went to the newly-renovated Church Hall where the Arab-speaking Community gave honorary-commemorative plaques to the two Primates, and then all went on to the Hilton Hotel where the Patriarch of Alexandria hosted an official luncheon, at which, apart from the above-mentioned, their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Finland and Cyprus in Egypt Messrs H Manlyvaara and F Anastasiou, the Consuls General of Greece and Finland Mrs K Athanasiadou and Mr T Kivela, the President of the Hellenic Community Mr Haralambos Katsimbris as well as the clergy accompanying the two Primates, Community officials and other dignitaries were also present.

During the luncheon, the Patriarch of Alexandria, in addressing His Eminence, linked the preceding con-celebration with the luncheon of love and honour and underlined the following: “Your Eminence, your presence here proves the simultaneous link between the Resurrection of Christ and its philanthropic consequences with the entire missionary work of our Patriarchate, which with your help and contribution continues and develops. For it develops not only through financial assistance, but comprises a total success of the work of Christ, as through and in Him we all work to offer to Him the work of our hands and to serve His Church. In this sense, the Church, as the common Mother of all, unites her children in a contribution of love, service, co-operation and co-perception, as is shown by the relations of the Patriarchate of Alexandria with the Church of Finland, both by progress in missionary work as well as by the research and maintenance by a group of Finnish scientists of the Patriarchal Library of manuscript codes. The especially cordial relations between our Churches, Your Eminence, are imprinted in the cordial and fraternal relations of the persons, as familiarity goes together with co-operation both for the progress of the Churches, as well as for true love, which in ecclesiastical life “does not seek its own” according to the Apostolic phrase.”

The honoured Archbishop of Finland replied in the same spirit, and having expressed his gratitude for the words and hospitality which he has been enjoying since the first minute of his arrival in Egypt, referred to the work of his Church, which not only has an ecumenical dimension shown by his visits to other Orthodox Churches, but also to the unifying activity of the Church within the borders of his country, seeing that “Orthodoxy operates in a corresponding manner to the principles set by the Saints of Finland, Sergios and Herman, the founders of the Holy Monastery of Valamo, who through their actions consolidated the Christian faith in Karelia (now Eastern Finland), one thousand years ago”. He also wished continual progress in the humanistic and missionary programmes of the Patriarchate, which the Church of Finland and he personally  will continue to support in every possible way, as he himself confimed the manner in which the flock of the Patriarchate expreses its joy as well as its need to enjoy the considerable works and to listen to the spiritual words of the Primate of the Alexandrian Church.

Late in the afternoon, the two Primates drove back to Alexandria, and at night they ate together at the Salamek Palace in Montaza, exchanging opinions on various ecclesiastical issues.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5th DAY OF THE OFFICIAL VISIT OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND TO THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

On the morning of Monday 19th April 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and his guest His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland, together with their respective entourages, visited the Library of Alexandria. There they were received with much love by the Public Relations Manager, Ambassador Mr Taher Khalifa and his co-workers, who took them on a conducted tour of the library. His Eminence and his entourage were very enthusiastic about the buildings, the museums and the Planetarium of the Library.

They then continued on to the Office of the Governor of the city, where the two men met with the Governor of Alexandria General Mohamed Abdel Salam Mahgoub. The Governor received the two Hierarchs with great joy and thanked the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne for his contribution to international relations, in the dialogue and exchange of cultures between Egypt and other countries as well as for the fact that he is a permanent ambassador for the peaceful co-existence between Christians and Moslems in Egypt. He thanked him also because everywhere and always he speaks in the kindest words about Egypt and the protection which the Government affords the Patriarchate. In his turn His Beatitude again expressed his thanks for the protection and assistance which the Egyptian State affords the Patriarchate and its flock.

At noon, the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria hosted a luncheon in honour of the two Primates in the Community lounge. During the luncheon, the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria Mr Haralambos Katsimbris welcomed the Finnish Archbishop to the city of Alexander the Great, referred to the history of Hellenism in Alexandria and thanked the Finnish Church for its help and support to the Church of Africa and among other things said: “….Many times we hear of your many and pious works from our Patriarch, who always speaks of your love and personal concern with affection and the kindest words, as well as of the love of the Orthodox Church of Finland for the fullness of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, throughout the African continent…” He then gave an Egyptian silver tray to His Eminence as a commemorative gift. Present at the luncheon were the Consul General of Greece Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, the Honorary Consul of Finland in Alexandria, the members of the Community Council, as well as the Presidents of community Associations and Societies. At the end of the luncheon, the Archbishop of Karelia thanked the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria for his love.

That night the Patriarch hosted a dinner in honour of His Eminence and his entourage in the Holy Monastery of St Savvas. After the dinner His Beatitude addressed His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland and among other things said: “… The different manifestations of the Christians of the Church of Finland and of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, although not diminished, are essentially blunted due to the common vision of the Church and missionary activity. Despite their external differences which are activated in totally different environments, they do not ignore, forget or show a lack of concern about occurrences in other Churches. This unity is the reason for our mutual travels, the exchange of visits, our multi-faceted co-operation. History replies and makes modern reality fertile, so that through common exchange and mutual contribution the necessary example of unity is offered. The example of the respect of the Egyptian authorities towards the Patriarchate of Alexandria, this excellent model of the existence of Christians and Muslims in one country, reveals the ability of the Church to develop in all cultural environments. During your short but truly important and fruitful stay in Egypt, you had the opportunity of verifying for yourself what we have said and to pass on everywhere the reality of what goes on here. We thank you for your visit here and we ask you please to keep in mind all that you saw in the Patriarchate, in Egypt, in Cairo, in Alexandria, in both our Greek-speaking and Arab-speaking flock. Along with our thanks for your visit and for all that you personally and also your flock do for our Patriarchate, we drink to your health and bid you farewell with the best memories. You came a few days ago as beloved guests among loved brothers. However, in preparing now for your departure, we are richer in experiences of love, kindness and courtesy, which we will retain as expressions of ecclesiastical unity and of missionary activity. We thank you most warmly!”

His Eminence then thanked His Beatitude for his love, made a brief reference to the history of the Finnish Church and invited His Beatitude to visit Finland and to see once again the work of the Church there. In the private meeting that the two Hierarchs had held earlier, the similarity of views and the common road, especially as far as concerns the dialogues with other faiths and religions were stressed; they also discussed missionary work  and His Eminence announced that scholarships would be given to Africans to study theology in Finland.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------COMPLETION OF THE VISIT OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF FINLAND TO THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

With the best impressions and in total satisfaction from his official peaceful visit to the Alexandrian Patriarchate, His Eminence Leon, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland departed from Alexandria in the early hours of Tuesday 20 April 2004. His Eminence was seen off by His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, together with His Grace George, Bishop of Niloupolis and clergy of the Patriarchate, the Consul General of Greece, Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, as well as the Honorary Consul of Finland in Egypt.

During this official visit, the two Hierarchs confirmed the indissoluble bonds between the two Churches, their common path in inter-Christian dialogue and their mutual views. The bonds of co-operation were strengthened in the field of missions and a scholarship was offered for Africans to study at the Theological school of Finland. His Eminence the Archbishop had the opportunity of discussing issues of common ecclesiastical interest with the Primate of the Alexandrian Church and to get to know at first hand the missionary centre, to visit the buildings of the Patriarchal Palace, the Patriarchal Vicarage and the Cathedral Church of the Annunciation which are under renovation, alteration and maintenance, as also the Patriarchal Vicarage in Cairo and many other things.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------THRONAL FEAST OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

On Sunday 25th April 2004, the Patriarchate of Alexandria honoured the memory of its founder and Patron Saint, the Apostle and Evangelist Mark, in ecclesiastical splendour. During the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy which was conducted in the Holy Patriarchal Church of St Savvas the Sanctified, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, was attended by His Eminence Chrysostomos of Zakynthos, His Grace George of Niloupolis and the clergy of Alexandria.

Present at the Divine Liturgy were the Consul General of Greece in Alexandria, Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, the President of the Hellenic Community Mr Haralambos Katsimbris, the Deputy President of S.A.E. Mr Stephanos Tamvakis, Presidents of Hellenic Associations and Societies and many faithful, among whom were pilgrims from Greece.

Addressing the congregation, His Beatitude referred to the Resurrection of the God-Man and to the command He gave His disciples to go out into all the world and to teach His word, to the contemporary struggle of missionaries in Africa, and stressed: “The Evangelist Mark’s pastoral and theological directions, which were first obeyed and applied by himself in the Church of Alexandria, are applications of the spirit of service, as they are impressed in his Gospel. They were sealed by his martyr’s death through which he confirmed his faithfulness to Jesus, as well as to his own teaching. His words did not remain as dead phrases alienated from the wider ecclesiastical conscience of his service to the people of his time, rather they continue to inspire all of us his contemporary successors, as we struggle to maintain his example…During its long and historical path to ecumenical church life, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, became known as a genuine institutional expresser of the teaching, as well as of all the spiritual expressions of the inheritance which it received from its Saintly founder. This prolific experience which preserves the heritage of St Mark comprised, and through time    constitutes, the firm basis on which the Church of the Evangelist Mark has developed and simultaneously formed the manner in which it operates…

At the end of the Divine Liturgy the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne welcomed the congregation and introduced His Eminence the Archbishop of Zakynthos, referring to his relations with the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the cordial relations which he had with both Patriarchs Nicholas and Parthenios, but also to the long friendship with which he himself is bound with His Eminence.

His Eminence then replied, referring to his 45-year relationship with the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and thanked His Beatitude for the hospitality. A reception was then hosted in the Great Hall of the Monastery and at noon a lunch was hosted in the Patriarchal Refectory attended by His Eminence the Archbishop of Zakynthos and the Deputy President of S.A.E.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------COMPUTERIZATION OF THE PATRIARCHAL ARCHIVES

Through the care of His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, the Registry Office of the Patriarchate has secured the “Ecclesia Office” electronic organization programme.

The “Ecclesia Office” is the result of the co-operation between “ADAM PLIROFORIKI” and the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece and it has the ability to record, classify, search and print all records and printed matter of the Patriarchal Registry concerned with the Holy Sacraments of Marriage and Baptism (certificates of bachelorhood, applications for marriages, registration of marriages, copies of registration of marriages, baptismal registrations, copies of baptismal registrations, applications for baptism, etc), as well as a registry of deaths.

The programme also includes secretarial support (official name records, registry lists of documents, staff, archives of holy churches, finances, correspondence, etc).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE PATRIARCH AT THE FUNCTIONS FOR GEORGE MUSTAKY

His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, attended the concert given at the Library of Alexandria by the musician of Greek descent, George Mustaky, on the evening of Friday 30 April 2004.

After that, accompanied by His Grace George, Bishop of Nilopolis, he attended the official dinner of the musical function which was hosted under the auspices of the Greek and French Consulates in the garden of the Hellenic Consular residence and which was for public benefit.

Present at the concert and the dinner, among, others, were their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus Messrs Panayiotis Vlassopoulos and Phaedon Anastasiou, the Consul General of Greece in Alexandria Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria and Mrs Haralambos Katsimbris, the Deputy President of S.A.E. and Honorary President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria and Mrs Stephanos Tambakis and other members of both the colony and the community who came to honour the eminent artist. From the Alexandrian Library present were the General Director and Mrs Ismael Serageldin.

Within the events in honour of George Mustaky, Mrs Athanasiadou organized a Greek evening in the presence of the Patriarch and the community officials on the evening of Wednesday 28 April 2004 and again at the Consular Residence. During the abundantly Greek evening, the students from the Averof Lyceum sang Greek songs accompanied on the guitar by the teacher Thanasis Patsias. The members of the three-day international conference on Alexandria which took place in the Library, among whom were eminent Greek professors from various parts of the world, also participated.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Updated 3/05/04