February 2004

7TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BEATITUDE PETROS VII AS POPE & PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA & ALL AFRICA  

We would like to inform all the members of our Church, that His Beatitude Petros VII, is going to celebrate the 7th Anniversary as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa. On the occasion of this special anniversary, His Beatitude will preside at the Divine Liturgy and the Service of Doxology on Saturday, February 21, 2004, at the Holy Patriarchal Church of St. Savvas. 

- Orthros (Matins) at 8 a.m.

- Divine Liturgy at 9 a.m.

- Service of Doxology at 10:30 a.m.

From the Patriarchal Offices

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THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN MADAGASCAR

His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa departed late on the night of Sunday 1st February 2004 for his first pastoral visit to Madagascar, which will last for two weeks.

His Beatitude will arrive on the Great Island of Madagascar late on Monday night after a short stop in Nairobi. During his stay in Nairobi, the Patriarch will meet with H.E. Makarios, Metropolitan of Kenya, the Greek Ambassador Mr. Korinthios and the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Musioka.

The programme for the pastoral visit of the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Africa to the Holy Diocese of Madagascar, which was established by his suggestion in 1997, includes among others, the following:

Visit to the Missionary Centre in Alasora and official opening of the clinic; deposition of the foundation stone of the Holy Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, the seminary, the girls’ boarding school and the sewing school as well as visits to the missionary churches in the towns of Ranomafana; Fonenantsoa; Tsongobory; Ankiliberengy; Sakavilany; Tulear; and Mantasoa.

On Sunday 8 February he will perform the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral Church in Antananarivo. Also, during his stay there, the Patriarch will meet with the local Bishop Nektarios, the native clergy, the diplomatic and community leaders, the President of the country and other government officials.

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THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN KENYA

Within the scope of his pastoral trips to the Holy Archdioceses and Dioceses of the Alexandrian Throne, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa arrived at the “Jomo Kenyata” International Airport in Nairobi at dawn on Monday 2, February 2004 accompanied by Archimandrite Emmanuel Kayias and Deacon Nektarios Kontogeorgos.

His Beatitude was welcomed by the local Metropolitan, Makarios of Kenya, H.E. Metropolitan Seraphim of Johannesburg and Pretoria, 1st Secretary Mr Michael Botsis on behalf of the Greek Embassy, Mr Yasser Rahati on behalf of the Egyptian Embassy and local native clergy.

In an extraordinary meeting with His Eminence Makarios, and His Eminence Seraphim, various issues to do with missionary work were discussed as well as other issues regarding the Archdioceses of Kenya and Johannesburg, together with issues regarding the smooth operation of the Patriarchal Seminary “Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus”.

At noon, His Beatitude attended a working luncheon hosted in his honour by His Excellency the Ambassador for Greece Mr I Korinthios, which was also attended by the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Kalondzo Mousioka and the High Commissioner of Cyprus Mr Eliades.

The Primate of the Alexandrian Throne had the opportunity of being informed by and discussing with the Minister and the Ambassadors important issues with regard to better co-operation for dealing with poverty in Africa, the huge problem of AIDS, as well as the strengthening of security and the peaceful coexistence of the people of Africa.

On the afternoon of the same day His Beatitude, together with his entourage and H.E. Makarios left for a pastoral visit to the Holy Diocese of Madagascar.

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ARRIVAL OF THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN MADAGASCAR

Proceeding from Nairobi in Kenya, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, arrived in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar on the night of 2 February, 2004, accompanied by H.E. Makarios, Metropolitan of Kenya and Irenoupolis, Archimandrite Emmanuel Kayias and Hierodeacon Nektarios Kontogeorgos.

His Beatitude was met at the airport with the honours of a head of state by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Culture; the Mayor of the City; the President and Members of the Council of the Hellenic Community; the Ambassador of Egypt; other Diplomatic and Service officials; H.G. Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar together with the clergy and people of his diocese and crowds of people.

In statements to the media he expressed his joy and emotion on being on the beautiful island of Madagascar on his first pastoral visit. Continuing, His Beatitude made a brief reference to the history of the Throne of Alexandria from the time of the founder of the Church of Alexandria and its first Bishop, St Mark, up to our time, stressing especially the role that the Patriarchate plays in all areas of daily life on the African continent, especially in the social, medical and educational areas. “The Patriarchate of Alexandria”, said the Patriarch, “does not proselytize, it evangelizes. We do not want to divide the nations and tribes of Africa, but to unite them”. His Beatitude then thanked the Government of the country for its warm welcome and hospitality with his best wishes and blessings for progress and prosperity for its leaders and the people of Madagascar.

The local press and all the television channels publicized the presence of the Patriarch of Alexandria extensively, stressing that this event was great and historic for the people of Madagascar.

His Beatitude and his entourage stayed in an hotel in the capital as guests of the Government of Madagascar.

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MEETING OF THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF MADAGASCAR – SECOND DAY OF THE PASTORAL TRIP

On Tuesday 3 February 2004, the second day of his trip to the Island of Madagascar, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and his entourage went to the Holy Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos where he was warmly welcomed by the clergy and people of the local population as well as by Greek and other Orthodox Christians. The festive Doxology was sung in the local dialect, Malakasy, by the members of the youth choir of the Church.

His Grace Nektarios Bishop of Madagascar in welcoming His Beatitude, said, among other things, the following: “It is the first time that the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa honours, blesses and sanctifies this newly planted vine of Christ with his presence that is why the hours that we are living are truly historic. And we feel the historic weight of these hours, we glorify from our inmost hearts the most-praised Name of the All Holy Triune God for the blessing of your presence and we welcome you, clergy and people, with: Blessed is He that Comes in the Name of the Lord…Please listen carefully, Holy Father, to the beating of the hearts of your children here and especially the little black angels whose eyes shine with joy seeing you amongst them and never forget their most expressive look”.

His Beatitude, after thanking God who deemed him worthy to realize this first pastoral visit to the island of Madagascar, said, among other things: “…Our loves flows from our concern for all the children of the Church who live in Africa and together make up the body of the Church. We bring with us not only the grace and blessing of our Elder Predecessor Patriarchs of Alexandria, who with the light of the Holy Spirit served the Church which God gave them, but also the blessing of the Holy Monks who laid the foundations of the monastic way of life…We also know your labours and your devotion to the spiritual mission with which the Church has entrusted you, therefore your work is blessed by God as His own work. The building of Holy Churches, the construction and establishment of missionary centres, the ordination of worthy and able clergy and all your other activities reveal the success of the choice made through the Holy Spirit for the appointment of the Ecclesiastical head of the Holy Diocese of Madagascar…”

At the end, His Beatitude gave out icons of St Mark and a reception for all was held in the adjacent hall. During the reception the Patriarch was addressed by the President of the Hellenic Community of Antananarivo, Mr Ch. Spitiotopoulos, who expressed the joy and emotion of the entire Hellenic Community – although small – and thanked him for the establishment of the Diocese and the intense activity which the Orthodox mission is developing and promised every support and assistance. In his reply, His Beatitude thanked the President and the members of the Hellenic Community for the admirable co-operation they have with the local Bishop and wished them a continuation of this great effort.

Following this, the first native priest, Fr Ioannis, on behalf of the clergy and the faithful, addressed His Beatitude with warm words expressing gratitude and the joy of all for this first visit of the Primate of the Alexandrian Patriarchate. In his turn, the Patriarchate gave his paternal advice and asked that there be love, unity and co-operation between them and their Bishop.   “…For where the Bishop is there is the Church. The Bishop is a type and place of Christ…” said His Beatitude. Finally, Fr Ioannis offered His Beatitude commemorative gifts.

The President of the Hellenic Community hosted a lunch for His Beatitude and his entourage and, in a warm atmosphere, mutual co-operation between Church and Hellenic community were once again expressed. His Beatitude offered a commemorative gift of an Icon of St Mark to the President of the Hellenic Community.

A short while later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar visited His Beatitude. Afterwards, His Beatitude was welcomed with the honours of a Head of State in the home of the Prime Minister of the country. In both instances addresses were made and replied to and gifts were exchanged. His Beatitude once again thanked him for the hospitality and the protection which is given to the Orthodox Church of Madagascar. Both politicians expressed their satisfaction for the work done in all fields and promised every assistance and support.

Late in the afternoon, His Grace Bishop Nektarios took His Beatitude on a conducted tour of the various buildings of the Diocese on private property. That night he hosted a dinner for His Beatitude at his home. His Beatitude expressed his satisfaction and gave an icon of St Mark to His Grace.

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THE PATRIARCH’S TRIP TO MADAGASCAR CONTINUES

On 4 February 2004 His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, set out on a long and difficult journey into the interior of Madagascar, together with his entourage, the Bishop of Madagascar and the members of the protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After a twelve-hour journey, through rivers, waterfalls, lush vegetation and rice plantations, the Patriarch was warmly welcomed outside the town of Fianarantsoa by the officials of the area.

A little later, His Beatitude was received by the President of the Self-Governed Province of Fianarantsoa, General Rantrianarivo, who was surrounded by the leading citizens of the area.

The General warmly addressed His Beatitude, welcoming him to the province where 80% are Christians. He said that the mere fact that the Patriarch is a successor of St Mark – first Bishop of Alexandria – is one other reason for the great mission with which God Himself has entrusted him. He gave thanks for the role played by the Orthodox Church in his province in all aspects of the daily life of the local population, and wished him a good and pleasant stay.

His Beatitude thanked the General for the welcome and the hospitality and after referring to the history and course of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, he asked for a continuation of the good co-operation with the Orthodox Church in this Self-Governed province. An exchange of gifts followed.

That night an official reception was held at the Holy Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, where vast crowds of faithful, led by the local clergy and the officials of the town warmly welcomed the Patriarch. A doxology and the “royal hymn” of the Patriarch were sung in Greek. The Priest of the Parish, Fr Andreas, emotionally welcomed the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne on behalf of the faithful, stressing that this is the first time that they welcome the Spiritual Father of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. At the end they offered gifts to His Beatitude and he offered an icon of St Athanasios as a blessing.

In his reply His Beatitude said: “We came bringing the blessing of the founder of our Church, the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, who in his Gospel teaches the way of evangelizing the nations and their immersion into the great mystery of the Church. We came also to hear the gallant beating of your hearts for the love of Christ, for your participation in His Church, for the unity of love which the word of the Gospel offers and unites people in the Common Cup of the Divine Liturgy…Therefore the establishment of the Church of the Holy Apostles here reminds us of the value of the work of Jesus’ Disciples, who, after Pentecost went out into all the nations with the aim of teaching faith in the true God who became man to save the world from sin, decay and death”.

An official dinner was hosted in honour of His Beatitude attended by the Mayor, the local Governor, the Anglican Bishop and the clergy with the Chairman of the Parish.

On the next day, 5 February 2004, the Patriarch and his entourage visited the entire surrounding area of Fianarantsoa where, in co-operation with the local officials, they examined ways in which Orthodoxy could be developed in the interior.

His Beatitude then visited the towns of Lazini, Betsuleoa and Ambalanaoua. Due to the bad weather and especially the strong cyclone which had almost destroyed the surrounding vegetation and the roads, it was not possible for the Patriarch to visit the parishes of the native Orthodox Christians. On his return His Beatitude met with the clergy of the area at Fr Andrea’s home and gave them spiritual advice.

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THE PATRIARCH JOURNEYS INTO THE PROVINCIAL TOWNS OF MADAGASCAR

Early on the morning of 6 February 2004, His Beatitude was visited at his hotel by the President of the Self-Governed Province of Fianarantsoa, General Rantrianarivo, who warmly bade him farewell. After thanking him for the hospitality, His Beatitude noted the generous hospitality and love of the people of the area.

At noon the return journey began. On the way His Beatitude stopped at the Orthodox parish of St Nektarios which is under construction, where, led by Fr Loucas and the leaders of the area, he was very warmly welcomed. Addresses and replies were made, gifts exchanged and hundreds of little catechumens sang and danced for His Beatitude.

His Beatitude, addressing the faithful, said among other things: “…This Holy Church, dedicated to his memory, is holy and the surrounding areas witness to the holiness of St Nektarios. Whoever honours St Nektarios, honours the Patriarchate of Alexandria and that is why the children of our Patriarchate all over Africa honour St Nektarios”.

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VISITS OF THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA TO THE MISSION CENTRES OF MADAGASCAR

On Saturday 7th February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa went to the mission centres of Madagascar.

He was met there by the local Bishop and clergy, a representative of the Minister of Health, the Mayor, the Ambassadress of Egypt, the Consul General of Greece and Cyprus Mr P Taloumis, the President of the Greek Community and crowds of people.

His Beatitude conducted the inauguration of the very modern clinic and also of the Theological Seminary “St John the Theologian” which is under construction and, addressing the crowds, among other things he said:  “…We are conducting the inauguration of this clinic for the cure of bodily illnesses. At the same time we are placing the foundation stone for the building of the Seminary and the Hostel which will host the pupils and students who will come to the Church and ask to be taught the deeper meanings of faith, so that in the future, with God’s grace, they will be shown to be workers of the Gospel and servants of the Church and of suffering man”.

Thereafter His Beatitude awarded the Medal of St Mark to the assistants of His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar, who strengthened the work of fulfillment of Dr John Robinson’s Clinic, Mrs Iliada and Stamatia Kouvousis the microbiologist. A reception in the grounds of the Diocese followed, at which His Beatitude was addressed by the Mayor of Antananarivo and by the Representative of the Ministry of Health. Both thanked His Beatitude for this great initiative of the Orthodox Church in undertaking to help those who are suffering and those lacking medical care. Following the speech of His Grace, His Beatitude unveiled the commemorative plaque.

In an interview given to the State television of Madagascar, His Beatitude stressed the efforts which both he himself as well as his Archbishops and Bishops invest in the offering of both medical and pharmaceutical assistance to the poor, as also in contributing to other basic aspects of the community.

His Grace then hosted a lunch for His Beatitude and his entourage. That evening there was a meeting of all the clergy at the Cathedral in Antananarivo, under the Chairmanship of His Beatitude. The Patriarch gave paternal guidance and advice to the clergy and an edifying discussion followed. Finally, the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne received the Seminarians to whom he addressed words of love and support.

That night the Government hosted a dinner in honour of His Beatitude. The dinner was attended by the Prime Minister of Madagascar James Silla, the Minister of the Interior Marcel Ramtsena, Raymond Ramandibilahandra representing the President of the country, Jean-Pierre Rakotorivoro, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassadors of Romania and Egypt, the Consul General of Greece Mr P Taloumis, the representative of the Local National Council of Churches, et al.

In his address, the Prime Minister once again welcomed His Beatitude to Madagascar on behalf of the President of the country, thanked him for the Church’s contribution to the development of the island and said that by law complete freedom is given in Madagascar to those who wish to preach the Gospel of love and Peace. His Beatitude thanked the Government for the warm welcome and the hospitality and stressed the role played by the Orthodox Church in the tightening of relations between doctrines and religions, races and cultures, independent of origin and language, for mutual respect and understanding, co-operation and solidarity for the prevalence of peace, love and unity for all.

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FIRST PATRIARCHAL DIVINE LITURGY IN MADAGASCAR

On Sunday 8 February 2004, the Divine Liturgy was conducted with particular splendour and direct television and radio coverage in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.

His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kenya and Irenoupolis, His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar, Archimandrite Emmanuel Kiayias and the local clergy of the island concelebrated with His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.

The eucharistic gathering was attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Education, representatives of the President of the country and of the Prime Minister, of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassadors of Egypt and Russia, the Consul General of Greece and Cyprus Mr Panayiotis Taloumis, the Mayor of the capital, Consuls General and Diplomats, community officials and Orthodox Christians of other nations.

The arrival of many hundreds of local native Orthodox Christians, who came to participate in the Liturgy and have communion, was an emotional experience.

Addressing His Beatitude the Bishop of Madagascar said:  “Your Beatitude, you have undertaken apostolic service in this place, too, where children of the Evangelist Mark have been waiting for years to enjoy your paternal presence and blessing. You have come, and in your person we see the love of our Great Mother, the Church of Alexandria and all Africa. Her concern and care for her children who struggle to know the Gospel and to diligently live the faith of the Fathers, the Orthodoxy of Athanasios and Kyrillos, the Almsgivers, of those called Petros and your other predecessors among the Saints…Please accept, Your Beatitude, the freshest and fragrant flowers of respect, love, dedication and gratitude of our hearts. In return, please give us your apostolic blessing. Promise us that you will come again many times!”

In his response the patriarch first analyzed the Gospel extract of the Prodigal Son, and then said the following: “The Bishop is and must continue to be the father who only gives and forgives, as God the Father accepts the sin and weakness of all the faithful, but also of those who have not yet come to know the joy of the Faith. Our first pastoral visit here to your Holy Diocese, is an occasion of great joy and satisfaction, which by God’s grace coincided with our preparation for Great Lent, a period of prayer and forgiveness, love and conciliation, restoration and reparation of our errors. We admire your work and enjoy God’s gifts, which are expressed in the faces of the faithful of the Church who with much love have recourse to your faithfulness to the Church and your great work.”

The exchange of gifts then took place and a reception was held in the adjacent grounds of the church for everyone.

His Grace then hosted a lunch which was attended by all the aforementioned dignitaries.

In his address, the Bishop also said the following: “ This lunch is made rich by the love and brotherhood of the heart with which it was prepared and given. And it is made even more rich by the mystical presence of the poor Jesus, which we see in the venerable face of our Patriarch. Your Beatitude, you are the richness of our table! You are our spiritual sweetness and delight! We thank you for blessing the humble fruits of the Madagascarian earth. Pray that the Lord, the Giver, will multiply His riches for the people of Malagasy. That He will grant us an abundance of the fruits of the earth and of all the necessities for its dignified preservation, its prosperity and its progress”.

In his reply, His Beatitude mentioned the following:  “As is witnessed in the Gospels, Jesus Himself,  during His life on earth, ate and drank and rested, wanting to show that human nature is subject to the necessities of life. He also took part in public functions and social gatherings, although He showed His divine power when He needed to”.   

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THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN SELF-GOVERNED TOLIARA

His Beatitude PetrosVII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria arrived in the self-governed province of Toliara on Monday 9th February 2004 and was welcomed with the honours of a head of state.

Waiting for His Beatitude at the airport of Toliara were the Mayor, Congressmen, State Officials, clergy and crowds of locals.

Under the sound of the Philharmonic Band, the Patriarch inspected the land corps of the army and police force and received the relative report from the supervisor of the welcoming party.

Following a brief stay in the VIP lounge, His Beatitude and his entourage went to the Holy Church of the Apostle Andrew which is in the suburb of Tsimenatse.

Crowds of local faithful awaited the Patriarch in this South-eastern tip of the Patriarchate, which is plagued by hunger.

His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar, in welcoming the Alexandrian Primate, called the visit historic, since it is the first time that a Patriarchate has undergone so much hardship in order to get to these poor native brothers.

In his reply, His Beatitude stressed the great contribution of the Orthodox Diocese of Madagascar to the area and to the solution of the vitally important problems of its citizens.

Following this, the Patriarch was addressed by the President of Toliara, who, after thanking him for the blessing of this visit, said that both the Officials, as well as the simple natives, now know the meaning of Orthodoxy and how close it is to the people and promised every assistance to the missionary effort for the smoother operation and prosperity of the nation.

His Beatitude then ordained the Parish Priest and gave him the rank of Economos (steward) and as a blessing gave an icon to the President and to Mr P Pilarinos who has been living there for more than 50 years and assists the work of the Bishop of Madagascar.

In the afternoon His Beatitude visited the Holy Church of the Meeting of the Lord in the suburb of Tsongobory. Father Ephraim, leading hundreds of pupils and crowds of local Orthodox faithful, gave the Patriarch a very emotional welcome. The Chairman of the Parish spoke about the history of the Parish and His Beatitude about the role of the Patriarchate in the development of nations and races.

A great African festival with dances and songs followed.

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THE PATRIARCH INAUGURATES MISSIONARY CENTRES

Hundreds of locals went to Betanimena on Monday night, 9th February 2004, in order to be present at the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Holy Church of the Theotokos which took place on Tuesday 10th February 2004, and was called an historic event.

The locals camped out in the surrounding areas and in the morning gave the Patriarch of Alexandria an unprecedented welcome.

His Beatitude performed the Sanctification of the Water and then laid the foundation stone of the Holy Church which is located next to the missionary centre.

Addressing the crowds, the Patriarchate expressed his joy that God had deemed him worthy to accomplish this first visit, he explained the importance of building a new church and called  on all to always pray with faith and in fear of God. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the local self-government and the officials of the town.

His Beatitude then went to the area of Belemboky with his entourage where, following the Sanctification of the Waters, he laid the foundation stone of the orphanage and the school of needlework.

The Patriarch once again stressed the love which the Church shows to the poor and those who have been wronged and promised that with God’s help, the Orthodox Church will continue to offer its humble service to many more works of public benefit for the good of all.

At noon, His Beatitude visited the president and the mayor of the area, to whom he once again expressed his gratitude for the protection which they give to the Orthodox Diocese of Madagascar and asked that they continue to support the work of the Bishop.

In the evening His Beatitude had a meeting with the priests and catechists of the area. The Patriarch thanked them all for their contribution to the work of the local church and he urged them to have humility and dedication on their course and to obey their Bishop. He also said the following among other things:  “This is the greatest honour which God is giving you. Not even the angels have this gift which you have. Therefore your responsibility is great. You must give yourselves in soul and body to the Church. When you obey your Bishop it means that you obey God Himself. Each one of you is the watchful guardian of his parish and you must be the light, the illumined lighthouse”.

The priests and catechists then asked various questions and His Beatitude gave them the necessary advice.

That night an official reception in honour of the Patriarch was held, attended by the president, the mayor, congressmen, the military commander, the priests and crowds of locals.

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PATRIARCHAL VISITS TO CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS

On Wednesday 11 February 2004, the last day of his visit to the self-governed province of Toliara, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, visited schools and churches of the missionary diocese of Madagascar.

First stop was the Holy Church of St Barbara in Ankiliberengy and the adjacent primary school. The children, teachers and parents of the pupils, led by the three priests, welcomed the Patriarch very warmly.  His Beatitude emotionally analyzed the verse: “Let the children come to me” and referred to the importance of establishing churches and schools. The head of the school welcomed the Patriarch on behalf of all and after gifts had been exchanged the children sang and danced for the Alexandrian Primate and his entourage.

The next stop was the Holy Church of the Apostle Matthew in Sakavilany, where His Beatitude analyzed the following extract for the crowds that had gathered to welcome him: “Go out into all the world”, precisely stressing his presence and coming. “This is why we have come to you, to do this holy duty for the salvation of all people. Orthodoxy is not for the few but for the many. God has given you His hand: you gave Him yours; remain with this”. Gifts were then exchanged and the children sang and danced.

The last stop was at the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Andrianovory and at its adjacent school. Here too the locals gave a warm African welcome to the Patriarch, who, in summing up his visits to churches, schools and clinics, said that all have the stamp of perfection and correctness which is why they would last for many years. He congratulated His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar for achieving in such a short space of time such important building works, and who together with his priests and catechists evangelizes the people of Madagascar. The Mayor of the area welcomed the Patriarch and the children sang and danced in an uniquely African way.

A conference, in which His Beatitude, his priests, the Mayor, the governor and other service officials participated, was held in the afternoon at the mission centre. The subject of this conference was the better organization of the entire social and philanthropic work of the diocese of the area. The Patriarch informed all present about the existing and scheduled programmes and asked for support and help for Bishop Nektarios’ efforts.

All promised that they would help and support the Bishop’s work for the realization of all programmes. In the evening the Mayor and his colleagues took His Beatitude on a conducted tour of the sights of the town. The next morning, Thursday 12 February 2004, the Patriarch and his entourage set out on the return journey to Antananarivo. His Beatitude was seen off at Toliara Airport by Government Officials, and army and police force corps gave him the honours of a head of state, while the Philharmonic Band palyed. In statements given to the Media, which covered his entire trip, the Patriarch expressed his complete satisfaction for this his first pastoral visit to Toliara and thanked all the officials of the local self-government for the welcome and the hospitality.

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AWARDING OF THE CROSS OF ST MARK TO THE PRESIDENT OF MADAGASCAR

At noon on Thursday 12 February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII returned to Antananarivo, after a visit to the interior.

That night, the Ambassadress of Egypt in Madagascar hosted a reception in honour of the Patriarch which was attended by, among others, the Ambassadors of Russia, America and Switzerland, the Honorary Consul General of Greece and Cyprus and other diplomats.

In his address, His Beatitude said: “…Consequently this meeting and this visit express the mutual respect both between the Patriarchate and the official Egyptian State, as well as between the people and religions. The example of this peaceful and fraternal relationship and co-operation between the political and religious leaders which through the centuries has become a way of life, constitutes the best model that can exist. In times when religious fanaticism and terrorism become reasons for war, with human victims, Egypt stands as an illumined exception, as no internal or even external power can possibly bring about a lessening of our mutual respect”.

His Beatitude offered a silver tray bearing the emblem of the Patriarchate as a gift. The Ambassadress, in her reply, confirmed all that the Patriarch had said and stressed especially the co-existence and the mutual respect of Christians and Muslims in Egypt.

The next day, 13 February 2004, His Beatitude collaborated extensively with His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar. His Grace expressed his views, his problems and the prospects which exist for the course of the mission and the Patriarch gave him the necessary guidance and advice.

Before lunch, His Beatitude and his entourage, the Bishop of Madagascar and the local priest Fr Loucas were received at the Presidential palace by the President of the country Mr Marko Rouvalomanana. Present at this meeting were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and presidential officials.

In a very cordial atmosphere, the Patriarch expressed his gratitude for the protection and support of the Orthodox mission given by the state and analyzed the role played by the Patriarchate of Alexandria in the development and prosperity of the Madagascarian population – especially in the areas which are plagued by hunger – by establishing clinics, orphanages and soup kitchens. He also expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality from the Government. His Beatitude then awarded the Cross of St Mark, 1st Class, to the President.

In his turn President Markos thanked the Patriarch for the honour given to him with this award and stressed the importance which the Government places in the efforts for stability, peace and tranquility in his country through faith in Christ and the Church. He saluted the vast activity which the Orthodox Church has developed in Madagascar and called on His Beatitude to realize all his development programmes and noted that the Government would appreciate the continuation of this co-operation even more. Finally, the President gave His Beatitude commemorative gifts.

The Patriarch then attended a reception given in his honour by the Honorary Consul of Greece and Cyprus, Mr P. Taloumis. The reception was attended by, among others, most of the members of the ministerial council, ministers, ambassadors of foreign countries and many other officials, to whom His Beatitude had the opportunity of expressing his admiration  for the work done by His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar and to speak at length on the work of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

That night he went to dinner at the residence of the Consul General Mr Taloumis, where he was met by the President and members of the executive council of the Hellenic Community and many members of the community. His Beatitude thanked the Consul for his valuable and unselfish contribution to the development of Orthodox mission in Madagascar and gave the Taloumis family an icon of St Mark.

It is worth noting that all five television channels in the country offered the visit of the Patriarch of Alexandria to President Marko as their first news item. Also, these past days, state and private television has presented lengthy dedications on Orthodoxy in Madagascar and the daily press has had lengthy and very positive articles on the visit of the Patriarch of Alexandria to Madagascar.

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THE PATRIARCH LAYS THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE LARGEST ORPHANAGE IN MADAGASCAR

On the morning of 14 February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by his honoured entourage, the local Bishop, the Honorary Consul of Greece and Cyprus Mr P Taloumis, the President of the Greek Community of Antananarivo, local clergy and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, left by road for the area of Mantaso, where, on the highest point of the mountain – 1500m – he conducted the Sanctification of the Waters and laid the foundation stone for the construction of the largest orphanage in the country and the adjacent Holy Church dedicated to Saint Paraskeve.

The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of the area, the Governor of the district, other representatives of the Leadership, representatives of the other Christian doctrines, members of the Greek community and crowds of people.

In his address, His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar, after outlining the history of the construction of the orphanage, also said the following:  “Your Beatitude, today our souls are filled with gratitude to God  because our dream, the dream of the orphaned black angels of this country, is starting to become a reality, through the laying of the foundation stone of our orphanage by your holy Patriarchal hands and your prayers to God. We are so very grateful to you, Your Beatitude, our father, for this blessing you have given us! We shall all remember this holy hour with great emotion, and as we shall later be placing your venerable Patriarchal photograph in the halls of the institution, our orphans will recognize in your person the holy father which the Heavenly Father-God gave them on earth. And now, our holy father, bless once more the work blessed by God for which you laid the foundation stone and please do not cease to strengthen it with your blessings and your prayers”.

Full of emotion, His Beatitude first gave grateful thanks to God who deemed him worthy to lay this foundation stone for yet another  institute for public benefit in Madagascar and among other things, said:  “…that it is starting to become the work of the Church, and finally God allows us to bring it to completion. It is the work of the Church to contribute to people, especially to the poor children, the orphans”. The Patriarch thanked all who had contributed to the realization of this work, especially His Eminence Stylianos,  Archbishop of Australia, who assists with all Bishop Nektarios’ efforts. He also thanked the Mayor and his colleagues, Mr Taloumis, the architect of the church, as also the people who came to be present at the ceremony.

Finally, the Mayor of the district also spoke and thanked His Beatitude who came from so far away to lay the foundation stone of this institution which will help his community and wished that the Patriarch would come again for the inauguration of the orphanage. An open luncheon was then hosted in the country home of Mr Taloumis during which His Beatitude had the opportunity of discussing with local officials and government representatives the programmes of the mission of Orthodox Church in Madagascar.

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AWARDING OF MEDAL TO THE HONORARY CONSUL OF GREECE AND CYPRUS

On Sunday morning, 15 February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Church of St John the Theologian which will be used in the future as a chapel for the adjacent Seminary which is under construction in the suburb of Alasora. Concelebrating with His Beatitude were His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kenya and Irenoupolis, His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar, Archimandrite Emmanuel and all the local clergy.

The Patriarch preached the sermon and among other things said: “…the pastoral work of the Church does not ignore the weak, for in his person it sees Christ Himself, who through His immeasurable beneficence became poor so that they may be enriched in virtue. He died on the Cross and rose again and we die with Him and rise with Him. As Christians we have many reasons for supporting the poor and weak, as the health of our souls and bodies is our most basic wish. We praise God for showing forth worthy people, such as your Bishop, workers of the Gospel of love, and we are also pleased and bless him and his spiritual children who are also children of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. Stay close to your Bishop and obey his orders, so that God’s name may be praised.”

At the end of the Liturgy Bishop Nektarios addressed His Beatitude, and said: “We heard your council, your advice and your blessed words with love. We heard the beating of your heart which beats equally for all your spiritual children all over Africa. We thank you, Your Beatitude, for everything. We praise God and thank Him at the same time for having at the helm of the Alexandrian Throne you, our father, our counselor, our teacher”.

Present at the Divine Liturgy were the Mayor of Alasora, the Honorary Consul of Greece and Cyprus Mr P. Taloumis, the President of the Greek Community and many local faithful. After the Divine Liturgy the Patriarch had a meeting with the priests and gave them his last words of advice and guidance.

Mr Taloumis then hosted a luncheon at his home in honour of His Beatitude, which was attended also by the Ambassadors of Russia and Egypt, other diplomats, members of the Greek community and other dignitaries. During the lunch, His Beatitude awarded the Cross of St Mark, 1st Class, to Mr Taloumis. In his address, the Patriarch mentioned the following: “The ambassadors and Consular Officials, wherever they are, know our work and that is why the Bishops work with them, as Hellenism and Christianity have developed the love and journeying together with other cultures and other people from the time of their historic presence and togetherness.  We thank you also for your care for the Greeks and for your assistance to Bishop Nektarios of our Patriarchate, together with whom you collaborate so closely in his missionary work.”

With great emotion the Consul thanked His Beatitude for the honour given to him. The President of the Hellenic Community also spoke and promised complete co-operation with Bishop Nektarios.

That night His Beatitude and his entourage attended a dinner at the home of Bishop Nektarios where the last discussions took place concerning the better course of the mission in Madagascar. The Patriarch of Alexandria departs on Monday 16 February, via Kenya, for his see in Alexandria.

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COMPLETION OF THE ALEXANDRIAN PATRIARCH’S VISIT TO MADAGASCAR

On the morning of 16 February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa had a long meeting with His Grace Nektarios, Bishop of Madagascar. His Beatitude thanked His Grace for this first successful pastoral visit to Madagascar and expressed his complete satisfaction for the ongoing mission effort. He called on the Bishop to continue his humble service with the same zeal, enthusiasm and faith.

Later, accompanied by the Honorary Consul of Greece and Cyprus Mr Panayiotis Taloumis, the President of the Greek Community, his entourage, the Bishop of Madagascar and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he went to the Embassy of Egypt, where he was warmly welcomed by the Ambassadress and the Embassy staff. During this etiquette visit the Patriarch once again had the opportunity of thanking the Ambassadress for the protection and support given by the Egyptian government to the Patriarchate.

Before leaving for the airport, the Patriarch was interviewed by the national television station, where, among other things, he had the opportunity of re-iterating the efforts made for the preservation of peace and co-existence of nations and cultures of differing ideologies and values, stressing that this is accomplished through dialogue and good will. All the above-mentioned people then accompanied His Beatitude to the airport, where he was met also by the local clergy, many Orthodox youth and seminarians.

On behalf of the government, the Patriarch was greeted by the Minister of Health, whom His Beatitude thanked once again for his warm hospitality and the assistance given by the government of Madagascar. During his departure for Kenya an honour guard gave him the honours of a head of state.

The Patriarch was welcomed at the airport in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, by the High Commissioner of Cyprus Mr K Eliades, representatives from the Greek and Egyptian Embassies and local clergy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN KENYA

On the night of 16th February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, arrived in Kenya on the way to Egypt. At the airport in the capital, Nairobi, His Beatitude was met by the High Commissioner of Cyprus Mr K Eliades, representatives of the embassies of Greece and Egypt, local clergy and others. His Beatitude then went to the Cypriot Ambassador’s residence where Mr Eliades hosted a light supper in his honour.

The next morning, the Patriarch visited the Orthodox Patriarchal Seminary “Archbishop Makarios III” on the outskirts of Nairobi. During his arrival, the bells of the Holy Church of St Makarios tolled joyously, while the students sang his “royal hymn”. The Patriarch was welcomed by His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kenya and Irenoupolis, the lecturers and the staff of the seminary and the Metropolis and local clergy.

After the Doxology Archbishop Makarios welcomed His Beatitude on behalf of all and thanked him for his frequent visits to the Archdiocese of Kenya which show his interest in and undivided support of the course of the Patriarchal Seminary. In his reply His Beatitude expressed his satisfaction with the work done at the seminary and gave his advice and counsel to the seminarians, stressing the importance of their mission to all the nations of the African continent from where they come.

He then performed the Sanctification and blessing of the first private bus of the Seminary and then held a meeting with the lecturers, priests and colleagues of the seminary. Before noon His Beatitude visited the adjacent buildings where the Educational Faculty, the Computer Faculty, the Needlework Faculty and the Nursery School are situated. After lunch hosted at the Metropolis, His Beatitude departed for the airport and his final destination of Cairo, arriving there late that night.

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THE 7th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ELECTION OF THE PATRIARCH

The 7th anniversary of the election and elevation to the Alexandrian Throne of His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, was celebrated with the participation of crowds of faithful and with exceptional grandeur in Alexandria.

On Saturday 21 February 2004, a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Cathedral of St Savvas and celebrating with His Beatitude were His Eminence Archbishop Irenaios of Pilousion, His Eminence Archbishop Nicholas of Ermoupolis, His Eminence Archbishop Dimitrios of Cameroun, His Grace Bishop George of Niloupolis and the entire body of Alexandrian clergy.

The sermon was preached by His Eminence Dimitrios, Archbishop of Cameroun, who, among other things, praised the person of the Patriarch and referred to the enormous effort which has been carried out in all of Africa over the past seven years. He also said the following:  “It is certainly worth mentioning that the zeal and love for missionary work which discern you, makes you visit even the most inaccessible areas, which have never before been attempted by any other Patriarch. Through these visits you morally and materially strengthen not only the Greeks, but also the indigenous faithful and in this way you contribute to the extolling of the repute of Orthodoxy in Africa. However, it is not only your pastoral sojourns on the African continent which characterize your position as Patriarch – in the past seven years you have paid official visits to almost all the sister Churches and have received in your see hosts of hierarchs and other ranking clergy. You have met with the Presidents and Prime Ministers of European and African countries.

You have laid foundation stones, conducted inaugurations and opened many Holy Churches in Africa, Greece and Cyprus. You have inaugurated philanthropic institutions, other institutions of public benefit and even museums. You have presided over and participated in many conferences of an inter-Christian, inter-faith and monastic nature, as also at those of the Middle East Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, S.A.E. (the Society of Hellenes Abroad) and Egyptian societies…and your co-operation with the officials of the Egyptian State is flawless and admirable.

You have created new Archdioceses and Dioceses for greater efficiency in the missionary effort and despite the diminishing numbers of Hellenes in Egypt, you have accomplished the renovation of all the Churches, so that all are open, and you have also developed the best possible relations with your Arab-speaking flock, ordaining new priests from members of the Arab Orthodox Community. It would be a great omission if your enormous zeal for the restoration and renovation of the Patriarchal Palace and of the Vicarage of Cairo were not mentioned, as also the creation of the ultramodern museum and library, the total reconstruction of both the Patriarchal Monastery of St Savvas and of the Patriarchal Church, as well as the renewal of many churches and church buildings in Alexandria, in Cairo and in other towns in Egypt.

For all the above reasons, we, the clergy and people have an obligation and a duty to be always by the side of the Patriarch of love, the Patriarch of sacrifice, the missionary Patriarch, and to pray for him night and day.”

His Beatitude then spoke and thanked the Holy Synod, the Bishops, Clergy of the Alexandrian Throne, all the missionaries throughout Africa, the Ambassadorial and Consular Officials, the Hellenic and Arab Orthodox Communities, the African faithful, and all who in various ways support the Patriarchate in its difficult struggle over the entire African Continent, making special mention of the support of the Greek Government for the work of the Patriarchate.

The Patriarch then went to the Great Hall of the Patriarchal Monastery where a reception was hosted and he received wishes.

This great celebration was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Alexandria Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou, the President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria Haralambos Katsimbris, Community officials, the President of the Arab Orthodox Community Gabriel Nakash, the President of the Hellenic Community of Cairo Christos Kavalis, Chairmen and members of Hellenic Societies and Associations of Alexandria and Cairo, Diplomatic and Community dignitaries, the teachers and pupils of the Hellenic schools of Alexandria, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides with their leaders, crowds of faithful, as well as a great number of pilgrims from Greece.

On the evening of Friday 20 February 2004, the Patriarch attended a programme of artistic music dedicated to Angelos Volonakis, which was held at the Consular Residence, at the initiative of the Consul General of Greece in Alexandria Mrs Constantina Athanasiadou and with the co-operation of the Commercial (Mercantile) Bank of Greece, the Hellenic Community of Alexandria and the Youth Union of Alexandria. Artists from Greece participated in the concert. On the evening of 21 February 2004, the Patriarch attended a theatrical performance presented at the Julia Salvagou Hall by the members of the theatrical group of the Commercial Bank of Greece.

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MEETING OF THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA WITH THE PATRIARCH OF THE COPTS

On the afternoon of 28 February 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa met with His Beatitude Pope Shenouda at the Coptic Patriarchate in Alexandria. The meeting took place in a very cordial atmosphere, which is characteristic of the relationship between the two Churches, within the framework of their jurisdiction as Presidents of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox (Pre-Chalcedonian) Churches of the Middle East respectively.

Among other things, the two Primates discussed matters relating to the two Churches as well as matters which concern the Presidency and the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches in light of its impending meeting which will take place in March in Cairo and which will be the first since the General Assembly of the Council which took place last December in Cyprus.

Apart from the two Primates, the new General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches Mr Giurgis Saleh, Bishop Johannes of Pope Shenouda, His Grace Bishop George of Niloupolis, Patriarchal Vicar in Alexandria and Hieromonk Cherubim, Patriarchal Vicar in Alexandria for Pope Shenouda also participated.

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