March 2004

THE CONSUL GENERAL OF RUSSIA VISITS THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

On Monday 1 March 2004 the Consul General of Russia in Alexandria, Mr. Alexander Chvykov, visited His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, in order to congratulate him on his award bestowed by the “INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE UNITY OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NATIONS”, which is under the auspices of the Russian Church.

As is well-known, the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne was honoured on 21 January 2004 by the above-mentioned institute for his: “…distinguished activities in the field of relations and unity of Orthodox nations…”

The Consul congratulated His Beatitude on the conferment of the award and passed on the esteem and respect, as well as the trust which the Russian Church, the President of the country Mr. Vladimir Putin, who met with the Patriarch on his visit there, and generally the entire Russian people have in the person of Petros VII the Patriarch of Alexandria. He also said that the Consulate General of Russia would be available for the Patriarch of Alexandria for anything he might need.

His Beatitude thanked Mr. Chvykov for his visit and mentioned the good relations of the Churches of Alexandria and Russia.

He also referred to his recent official visit to the Russian Church and to the love which H.B. Alexiy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia showed the person of the Alexandrian Primate, accompanying him on all his visits. His Beatitude also mentioned the work done by the Patriarchate of Alexandria on the continent of Africa in the missions and also the restoration work being carried out in Alexandria, in Cairo and all of Egypt.

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TRIBUTE TO THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA BY THE ROMANIAN STATE TELEVISION

On Wednesday 23 March 2004, a television crew of the Romanian State television headed by Mrs Dona Tudor, visited His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. The crew was accompanied by the 1st Secretary of the Romanian Embassy in Cairo who is responsible for matters of the Press and Information Mr Gabriel Michai, and by the Greek-speaking Consul General of Romania in Alexandria Mr Andrei Mircea.

In the interview, His Beatitude gave information on the history of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and on the missionary work done on the entire continent of Africa. He referred to the dialogue between all the Christian Churches, the other creeds and various religions and noted the significant assistance and protection which is afforded by the Egyptian Government to the Patriarchate in order to facilitate its work. He also referred to the official visit which he paid to the Romanian Church in September 2003, stressed the good relations which unite the two Patriarchates and expressed his admiration for the faith of the Romanian people and especially the work which His Beatitude Theoktistos, the Primate of the Romanian Church, does.

At the end of the interview, the Consul General of Romania passed on to His Beatitude the impressions of the Romanian people on his official visit there, which was the first visit by a Primate of the Alexandrian Church to the Patriarchate of Romania, as well as the admiration of all for the missionary effort which is being conducted by his Patriachate. His Beatitude thanked the Consul and referred to the good relations which unite the two Patriarchates. He spoke with Mr Mircea and Mrs Tudor about his visit to Romania and his impressions. Finally, he gave the Consul, Mr Michai and the television crew mementos bearing the emblem of the Patriarchate as well as icons of St Mark.

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THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA PRESIDES OVER THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

The afternoon of Monday 22 March 2004 saw the start of the work of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches which is taking place at the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo and is due to be completed on Wednesday 24 March. The meeting is the first since the 8th General Assembly of the Council which was held in Cyprus last December.

Presiding over the committee is His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa as President of the family of Orthodox Churches of the Middle East (Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; Patriarchate of Antioch; Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Church of Cyprus). Co-presidents are H.H. Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church (Pre-Chalcedonian family), Bishop Johanna Kolta of the Coptic-Catholics (Catholic family), and Bishop Safwat El-Bayadi (Evangelical family). Also present were the representatives of the Church of Cyprus, His Grace Vasilios, Bishop of Trimythous and Deacon Christodoulos Christodoulou.

During today’s session the committee essentially concerned itself with the following issues: approval of the agenda, address by the General Secretary of the Council, message from the Patriarch of the Church of the Chaldeans in Iraq, approval of the minutes of the 8th General Assembly, formation of a nomination committee and approval of the report of the transitional period on the handing over of jurisdiction by the former to the present General Secretary. A dinner was then hosted for all the members of the committee.

During the breaks His Beatitude had private contact sessions with the members of the committee, especially those of the Orthodox family, where the issues which will occupy the nomination committee during tomorrow’s session were discussed. Also, the Bishop of Trimythous informed the Patriarch about issues which concern the Church of Cyprus.

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THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES CONTINUES

On the morning of 23 March 2004, His Beatitude Patros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by His Grace George, Bishop of Nilopolis, went to the Coptic Patriarchate in order to preside over the tasks of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches.

In today’s session the latest developments concerning the sale of the group of bookshops of the Council were discussed, and then the members of the nominating committee concerned themselves with the list of candidates for the following positions: Financial Supervisor, Associates to the General Secretary, the Heads and members of the Sub-Committees which constitute the Council (Faith and Unity, Communication, and the Relief of the Refugees of Palestine).

In the afternoon the Executive Committee approved the proposed names and then discussed financial issues as well as the relations of the Council with the World Council of Churches Middle East Desk. The last issue was referred to a sub-committee which will prepare a relevant suggestion for approval by the Executive Committee.

That night His Beatitude attended a working dinner together with the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, Messrs. P. Vlassopoulos and F Anastasiou.

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CONCLUSION OF THE WORK OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 24 March 2004 the work of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches was completed.

His Beatitude Petros VII. Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa again presided over the meeting together with the other three Presidents. The issues with which today’s session was concerned were the following: Presentation of the study of the progress of the humanistic aid to the suffering people of Iraq, confirmation of the names of the members of the sub-committees the Associates of the General Secretary and the Heads of the Units, reading and approval of the proposal for the relations of the Council with the new office of the World Council of Churches in the Middle East and the progress of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Bishop Ibrahem of the Church of the Chaldeans presented the state of the churches of Iraq today and the difficult conditions of life for the Iraqi people as well as the threats from various diseases and the daily clashes of war.

The next meeting of the committee is set to take place in Damascus, Syria, on 30 November 2004.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------PATRIARCHAL ATTENDANCE ON THE 5TH SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT

On the morning of the 5th Sunday of Great Lent (28 March 2004) His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa attended the Holy Church of the Archangels of the Arab-speaking community in Daher, where he performed the Divine Liturgy together with H.E. Nicholas, Metropolitan of Ermoupolis, H.G. Theophylaktos Bishop of Babylon, H.G. Alexios Bishop of Nitria, clergy of the Church and of the Vicariate and the Patriarchal Deacon. He then also presided over the memorial service for the founders and benefactors of the Church.

In his sermon His Beatitude referred to the Gospel extract and to the necessity of blessed humility in our lives, so that Christians can constantly be conscience of the fact that whoever wants to gain a place in heaven and in eternity, must on earth be the servant of all in a spirit of humility and love to one’s neighbour. He also praised the work done in that particular Church and the spiritual life of the faithful, praising both the council and the Parish Priest Archimandrite Elias Habib.

During the Divine Liturgy the Arab-speaking Byzantine choir of the Church sang.  The service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Cairo Mr Hercules Asteriades, the President of all the Arab-speaking congregations of Egypt and of the community of Daher Mr Robert Hosni, the members of the Council, the First Vice-President of the Hellenic Community of Cairo and Great Master of Ceremonies of the Throne Mr Basil Sarantinos, the President of the NGO “Alexandrian Lighthouse” Mr Patroklos Papastephanou and many faithful.

A reception followed and at noon a lunch in honour of the Patriarch was hosted for all the above-mentioned people in the Church Hall. The Patriarch, accompanied by his Bishops and clergy then went to the Patriarchal Vicariate in Cairo to inspect the construction work. He spoke with the engineers Messrs Nicholas Politis and Saber Hakim. He also met with the President of the Alexandrian Lighthouse, who had arrived from Athens, with whom he discussed issues concerning the NGO and the Patriarchate in General. That night the Patriarch departed for his see in Alexandria.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------PATRIARCHAL MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE HONG KONG COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

On the morning of Monday 29 March 2004 His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa received in the Patriarchal Office a 15 member group representing the Hong Kong Council of Churches who are on a pilgrimage in Egypt. Among the pilgrims was the President of the Council, the Anglican Bishop of West Kowloon Thomas Soo Yee-po, the General Secretary Rev. Dr. Chan Kim Kwong, Rev. Dr. Tso Man-king the previous President of the Council, Mr Alan Dimitrios Ho, Director of the Office of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong & South East Asia and pioneering colleague of H.E.  Metropolitan Nikitas, as well as other religious personalities of Hong Kong.

His Beatitude warmly welcomed the visitors who had come from so far away and in his welcome referred to the extensive history of the Patriarchate, to its course today, and especially to its missionary work and the contribution of the Patriarchate in solving the social problems which plague the African continent. He then replied to questions put by the Asian pilgrims stressing that Christians must always have Christ as their example, especially those who live in places where Christianity is in the minority. They should read the Holy Bible but also the texts of the Fathers, from where they can draw many answers for various problems which can also assist the shepherd to come closer to his flock.

The Patriarch then referred to the good relations that govern the Patriarchate and the Egyptian State as well as the peaceful and harmonious co-existence of Christians and Muslims in the land of the Nile.

Bishop Thomas Soo then replied to His Beatitude, thanking him for the warm welcome and his paternal advice and asking him to include in his prayers their Asian brothers who live in a pre-eminently atheistic country. Commemorative gifts were then exchanged.

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Updated 03/04/04