5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SYNODAL DECREE ON ST NEKTARIOS
On Thursday 15th January 2004, the Patriarchate of Alexandria celebrated the 5th Anniversary of the Synodal Decree on St Nektarios Metropolitan of Pentapolis with particular splendour.
His Beatitude Petros VII Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria conducted the Divine Liturgy at the Chapel of St Nektarios in the Patriarchal Monastery of St Savvas, together with his concelebrant Eirenaios, Metropolitan of Pelousion.
On 15 January 1998, following a suggestion by the Patriarch of Alexandria Petros VII, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria restored the memory of St Nektarios, Metropolitan of Pentapolis. Since then the 15 January has been marked as the anniversary day of the restoration of St Nektarios and of the asking of forgiveness of the Saint. The translation of part of his Holy Relics to Alexandria and Cairo is also celebrated.
Also, on the same day, the Patriarchate of Alexandria honoured Gerasimos Paladas, Patriarch of Alexandria, who was recently canonized by our Church and whose memorial has been marked as 15 January.
MEETING OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
ON the afternoon of 11 January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa went to Cairo where he collaborated with the Patriarchal Vicar in Cairo His Grace Bishop Alexios of Nitria and with the Superior of the Holy Monastery of St George in Old Cairo His Grace Bishop Theophylactos of Babylon, as well as with the Civil Engineers who have undertaken the works of renovation of the Holy Church of St Nicholas and of the Patriarchal Vicarage and supervised the ongoing works.
Also, as President of the Family of Orthodox Churches, he participated in the meeting of Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches, who concerned themselves with administrative and procedural matters, with the jurisdictions of the new General Secretary and the taking delivery of his responsibilities from his departing predecessor.
On the afternoon of the following day the Primate of the Throne of Alexandria traveled back to his seat by road.
VISIT OF THE NUNCIO OF THE VATICAN TO THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
The Apostolic Nuncio of the Vatican in Egypt, Archbishop Marco Dino Brogi, visited His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa on Tuesday 13th January 2004.
The Apostolic Nuncio passed on the wishes of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the New Year and also expressed his own wishes to His Beatitude.
The webpage of the Patriarchate
of Alexandria and All Africa (www.greekorthodox-alexandria.org) has been
enriched with the following elements (English and Greek):
ARRIVAL OF THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA IN MOSCOW
In the early morning of 20th January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by His Eminence Irenaios, Archbishop of Pilousion, His Grace Theophylaktos Bishop of Babylon (Old Cairo), His Grace George, Bishop of Niloupolis, Very Reverend Archimandrite Kallistratos Economou and Deacon Nektarios Kontogeorgos, left Alexandria for Moscow, capital of Russia, having been invited by His Beatitude Alexios, Patriarch of Moscow and by the “International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations”, which was to honour the Primate of the Alexandrian Church.
His Beatitude was seen off at the airport in Alexandria by the Consul General of Greece Mrs K Athanasiadou and the clergy of the Patriarchate, and he was met in Athens by the representatives of His Beatitude Christodoulos Archbishop of Athens, His Grace Paul of Neochori and His Grace Damaskinos of Diavlia, as well as by his representative in Athens His Eminence Chrysostomos of Carthage who was also added to the Patriarchal company of those on the visit.
Early in the afternoon, the Patriarch of Alexandria was met at the “Seremetevo” Airport in Moscow by His Beatitude Alexei Patriarch of Moscow heading many Synodal Archbishops and official clergy of the Russian Church, the Exarch of the Alexandrian Church in Moscow His Grace Athanasios Bishop of Cyrene, Their Excellencies the Ambassador of Greece and the Chargé d’ Affaires of Egypt Messrs D. Paraskevopoulos and Atef Akl, as well as officials of the Embassies, Diplomatic and Military Attachés and other dignitaries, while the local church and civilian press covered the event.
His Beatitude and his entourage went to the Holy Church of All Saints, see of the Exarchate of the Alexandrian Church for a Doxology for their arrival. During his address, His Grace the Exarch praised the ecclesiastical importance of the arrival of the Patriarch in the see of the Exarchate, which he combined theologically with the revelation in Christ, stressing that: “It seems strange to welcome a Master to his own home, but we of the home are glad and rush to the visit of the master of the house to his house, (for)…today joy is ineffable, the blessing inexhaustible, the treasure great”.
In his reply, His Beatitude expressed his joy at his presence at the Hierarchal Throne of the Alexandrian Dependency in Moscow and his satisfaction with the work of His Grace the Exarch, because the Dependency under his responsibility “is going through a period of progress and prosperity”, operating within the scope of ecclesiastical order as a bridge of communication “for the progress of fraternal and very close spiritual relations” between the two Patriarchates, the two nations, and the “historical manifestations of both the united and distinguished ecclesiastical tradition, Hellenic and Slavic”. Following the exchange of gifts, the Primate of the Alexandrian Church individually blessed the many faithful who had come to receive his blessing.
An official supper followed at the Exarchate, at the beginning of which His Beatitude honoured Mr Sergio Robertovich Mihitarov with the Cross of St Mark for his assistance to the Dependency and the work of the Exarchate, as he is appointed as the continuant of the most ancient ecclesiastical custom assisting and strengthening the renovation and embellishment of the ecclesiastical institutions. Thanking the honoured one, he explained that: “The appointment of benefactors and donors is the result of Divine Grace. And this is true, because their work is beneficial for the faithful of the Church, as even the inanimate objects which are connected to the Church, as are the Holy Churches and the appurtenances of worship and also the various buildings, serve the ecclesiastical congregation. It is God who guides and inspires the benefactors and donors, who often offer whatever they can from the little they have for the glory of God’s Holy Name and the progress of His Church.
During the dinner, His Beatitude had discussions with the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, the representatives of the Russian Church and then went to the Hotel “Daniilovskaya”.
REWARD TO THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA BY THE “INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR THE UNITY OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NATIONS”
On the morning of 21st January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa together with his entourage visited the See of the Primates of the Russian Orthodox Church, where he met with His Beatitude Alexei, Patriarch of Moscow and members of the Holy Synod, and collaborated with him on matters of common interest in a fraternal and consenting atmosphere. The exchange of ideas satisfied both sides.
Thereafter, the two Primates and their entourage visited the grand exhibition titled “Orthodox Russia” where Russian ecclesiastical works are exhibited and also where the results of the Russian Church’s completed efforts of pastoralization of the people are presented. Following a short address by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Russia, who referred to the importance of the exhibition as a message to all regarding the progress of ecclesiastical art and the entire work of the Church, the two Primates together conducted the inauguration of the exhibition and were taken on a conducted tour of its various stalls and then had lunch together.
In the evening, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and his entourage went to the amphitheatre of the Holy Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour, where His Beatitude Alexei Patriarch of Moscow and the President of the “International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Nations”, which is under the auspices of the Russian Church, Mr Alexeyev, honoured the Primate of the Alexandrian Church for his “distinguished activity in the scope of the relationships and unity of Orthodox Nations”.
Addressing the honoured Patriarch, both the aforementioned referred to the extent and the importance of the work which the Patriarch of Alexandria does, both within the borders of the African Continent, which is the jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, as well as in the interchurch relations between same faith Churches and Orthodox nations.
In his speech, the Patriarch of Alexandria, after thanking those who gave him this honour, stressed that he accepts this honour, because it reflects through his person on the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, and also, that the Institute, through the giving of honorary awards, reveals its interest in the progress of the unity of Orthodox Christian nations, a direct result of the salvific work of Jesus Christ and His Church. He stressed also that the invitation to the Church “of the nations was not conceived by ecclesiastical practice and conscience as superiority of the Christian nations over the non-Christian ones, but as a profound responsibility, which was expressed in many ways and was extremely fruitful…The Christian nations, especially those that are Orthodox, are self-defined in relation to their long ecclesiastical faith…and are self-determined by the responsibility to ecclesiastical activity… Religious fanaticism and national race, while revealing the psychological collective fear of weak faith and the lack of democracy, respectively, set against the healthy ecclesiastical identity, which does not forgive any form of violence, for it struggles for the restoration of all the expressions of human life”.
The ceremony for the conferring of the awards ended with a grand musical display and was followed by an official reception at the Cathedral Church buildings, attended by many invited guests.
On the 22nd January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa concelebrated with His Beatitude Alexei Patriarch of Moscow in the Holy Patriarchal Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Kremlin on the day of the Feast of St Philip, Archbishop of Moscow, supported by many hierarchs and clergy.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, addresses of greeting were exchanged and the Patriarch of Moscow thanked the guest Primate of the Alexandrian Church for his presence at the celebration for the memory of St Philip and congratulated him on his missionary activity on the African continent and expressed the unity of the two Church through the one Chalice.
Following this, the Patriarch of Alexandria thanked the host Patriarch of Moscow for his love, confirmed the ecclesiastical unity of the two Churches, which is a continuation of their Predecessors, the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Moscow and emphasized: “The recent difficulties of the State and the Church on the surface of the Russian ground, were not able to suspend the attachment of the pious Russian nation to the Church which remains the central expresser of the entire conscience, despite the many reactions and polemics which came its way. Respective oppositions also came the way of the Greek nation which it overcame during the difficult eras of the dispute of the Faith. Despite the problems, this brought the two nations closer together, so that the eras of the Christianization of Russia by the Byzantine missionary effort could be recalled”.
Immediately afterwards, the two Primates exchanged gifts of love and this was followed by an official lunch at the Patriarchal dining hall at the Kremlin in honour of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, which was attended by his entourage, Synodal Hierarchs of the Russian Church, clergy and other dignitaries. During the lunch, addresseds and commemorative gifts were exchanged on behalf of the two Primates.
That evening, His Eminence Kyrillos of Smolensk and Kallingrad, President of the Committee for External Affairs of the Russian Church hosted a dinner at his home in honour of the Patriarch of Alexandria, which was attended by the members of the Patriarchal entourage and the co-workers of the Reverend Archbishop. During the dinner a dialogue discussion took place in a friendly and fraternal climate on matters concerning the Orthodox Church and commemorative gifts were exchanged.
MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA
The meeting of His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa with His Excellency the President of Russia Mr Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on the afternoon of 22nd January 2004, can be characterized as an event of great importance. The meeting took place in the presence of the Patriarch of Moscow in an extremely friendly atmosphere.
During the meeting, the Pope and Patriarch, addressing the President, expressed his joy at his presence in the Great Country of Russia, and especially in the Holy Church of Russia, which through its struggles supported the pious Russian people and through its preaching of the love of Christ regenerated them. His Beatitude especially underlined the relations between Russia and Greece and stressed the common heritage and tradition of the two nations. He referred to the course of the Churches of Alexandria and Russia during the passing of the centuries and commemorated the names of the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Russia of blessed memory, who played a significant role in the consolidation of the relations between the two Patriarchates. His Beatitude took advantage of the presence of the President, whom he thanked for the support of the Russian Government in the righteous struggle of martyred Cyprus. Finally, he prayed that the Lord would strengthen President Putin in his reformatory work for the good of the Russian people.
In his reply the President expressed his great joy and emotion for the presence of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria in the Russian land and Church and thanked him for his support of the work of Patriarch Alexei of Moscow. He referred to the efforts of the Orthodox Church on behalf of the Russian people which remains attached to the Faith and the tradition of Orthodoxy, as especially today, as he said, it is essential that the State and the Church proceed and work together for the progress of the Russian people. The President also mentioned that today the Russian Orthodox Church , in the scope of Socialism, coexists and harmoniously works together with other religions for the good of the Country.
CONTINUATION OF THE PATRIARCHAL VISIT TO MOSCOW
On the 23rd January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa paid a visit of respect to the Patriarchal Holy Monastery of St Savva Storozevsky in Zveningorad accompanied by His Grace Athanasios Bishop of Cyrene, His Exarch in Moscow and by the rest of the members of his entourage, where he was welcomed by the fathers of the Monastery. After the Doxology in the Monastery Chapel, he was warmly addressed by the Hegoumen of the Monastery Archimandrite Theoktist, and in his reply he thanked him for the welcome and referred to the value and importance of monasticism for ecclesiastical and spiritual life, the roots of which are found in Egypt and in the tradition of the Alexandrian Church. Following a short conducted tour through the Monastery, he blessed the Monastic meal and admired the multifaceted work and the significant activity of the Monastery.
In the afternoon His Beatitude toured the city of Moscow and in the evening he visited the Exarchate of the Patriarchate and worked with His Grace the Exarch on matters concerning the Exarchate and received those that work there, blessed them and thanked them for their contribution to the Church.
Immediately afterwards the Patriarch made his way to the Ambassadorial residence of the Greek Ambassador in Moscow, Mr D Paraskevopoulos, who hosted an official dinner in honour of the Patriarch which, apart from the members of the Patriarchal entourage, was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and specialist on matters concerning the Middle East and North Africa, Mr A Saltanov, Their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Cyprus and Egypt Messrs A Georgiades and R Saad, the member of Parliament of Greek origin Mr Savvides and representatives of the Russian Church.
During his address the host thanked the Patriarch for his presence, which he valued as a great honour for himself and for the Greek Embassy and referred to the multifaceted ecclesiastical and national work of His Beatitude in Africa.
In his response, the Patriarch expressed his joy for the dinner hosted at the Greek Embassy and cited the good relations of the two Churches, the similar course of the two people in religious and cultural values and underlined the co-operation of Church and State in Russia. He referred to the assistance of the Greek State towards the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and lifting his glass he wished prosperity and peace to the Russian people, happiness and progress to the homeland of Greece and health and happiness personally to the Ambassador, his co-workers and his family.
OFFICIAL PATRIARCHAL VISITS IN MOSCOW
On the 24th January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa together with his entourage visited the Patriarchal Holy Church of Christ the Saviour, where he was taken on a tour of the Museum and its other areas, being informed about its history and operation by the Superior of the Church, Protopresbyter M Riazantev and admired this significant work of Russian art.
Afterwards he went to the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos Ouspenskoy, where the holy relics of the Blessed Ilarion, Anthony, Makarios, Agathos and Pambos are found and after the Doxology and the generally warm welcome from the many faithful, the Superior of the Church Protopresbyter S. Konobas welcomed His Beatitude with warm words, while in his response the Patriarch referred to the monastic tradition of the Alexandrian Church and the Saints whose holy relics are found in the church and combined the influence of monasticism on the Church and especially on the Russian Church as a blessing for the faithful. An official lunch followed during which addresses of greeting and gifts were exchanged by the hosting priest, the representative of the local Archbishop Juvenaly, the representatives of the administration and the parish council. All expressed the especially honoured presence of the Patriarch and received his blessing.
In the evening he gave a long Press interview to the Russian Radio and other information media and that night His Excellency the Egyptian Ambassador in Moscow Mr R Saad hosted an official dinner in his honour which was attended by the members of his entourage, the representative of the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia responsible for Middle East affairs Mr M. L. Boganov and representatives of the Russian Church.
The hosting Ambassador expressed in warm words his joy and honour at the presence of the Patriarch in the Ambassadorial residence which he regards as a special blessing and pointed out the value and the importance of religion and religious leaders for the prevalence of peace in the world and the peaceful coexistence of nations. He also referred to the necessity for the confrontation of terrorism by religion as God Himself, as He said, is life and love and he noted that Egypt and Russia can play a role as protagonists to this end.
His Beatitude’s response was in a similar vein, as he once again repeated the value of emulating the traditionally peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims in Egypt, the see of the Patriarchate since its inception, two thousand years previously. Because the honour to the person of the Patriarch reflects on the institution of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, its Primate remains a piercing preacher and permanent ambassador of the Egyptian model of peace and the co-operation of nations and religions, which he himself presents to the many visitors – pilgrims to the Patriarchate and which they themselves confirm.
Following the exchange of gifts, an interesting discussion took place on various matters.
END OF THE PATRIARCHAL VISIT TO MOSCOW
On the 25th January 2004, His Beatitude Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa conducted the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Church of All Saints, the Dependency of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Moscow and see of His Grace Athanasios, Bishop of Cyrene and Exarch of the Patriarchate, who participated in the concelebration with Bishop Mark, representative of the Russian Church and the clergy of the Dependency, while the members of the Patriarchal entourage prayed in the Sanctuary.
During the Divine Liturgy His Beatitude preached the Divine Word and referred to the theological interpretation of the Feast of Theophany, explained the meaning of the Exarchate, praised the quality of the work of the Exarch and underscored the historically justified and practically useful mutual exarchal representation of the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Russia, each in the borders of the other, as “in this way, not only is the respect of ecclesiastical fraternal relations between autocephalous Churches proclaimed, but the logical needs and the inexhaustible abilities of love and co-operation of the Churches and the Patriarchates is progressed”.
Afterwards he offered commemorative gifts to the clergy of the Church and blessed the great number of faithful who had come to receive the Patriarchal blessing.
After the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude went to the Dining Hall and blessed the lunch which was attended not only by the members of his entourage, but also by His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece Mr D Paraskevopoulos, and other invited guests. His Grace the Exarch thanked the Patriarch for his presence at the Patriarchal Exarchate in Moscow. Also, Mrs Natalia Nicolaou, Professor of Classical Literature at the University of Moscow and Headmistress of the School of Greek Language of the Moscow Community, presented little scholars who recited poems in Greek, as at the Exarchate there is the only school for Greek language learning in Moscow and afterwards Mr K Skotidis, President of the Greek Community of Moscow gave the Patriarch a commemorative gift. The Patriarch expressed his deep gratitude for the work of the Exarch and combined it with the scope of the uniform ecclesiastical work of the Patriarchate with the work in Africa, while he also expressed his satisfaction for the visible progress of the Russian people, saying characteristically that the existing difficulties would be surpassed “only if the clergy come down to the people”.
In the afternoon the Primate of the Alexandrian Church left for the airport, where he met with His Beatitude Alexei, Patriarch of Russia, during which the two Primates made a brief review of the visit and it was mutually confirmed that it was completely successful, while both expressed their thanks for the event and the expression of ecclesiastical love and unity, in the presence of Russian hierarchs, His Excellency the Greek Ambassador and the representative of the Egyptian Embassy.
Early that night the Patriarch and his entourage arrived in Athens. At the International Airport in Athens His Beatitude was met by His Grace Panteleimon Bishop of Koroneia on behalf of his Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens, the Ambassador of Egypt Mrs Magda Shahin and His Grace Damaskinos Bishop of Diavlia. The Patriarch informed both the representative of the Archbishop and the Egyptian Ambassador about the success of his visit to the Church of Russia as well as about his meeting with the President of the country Mr Vladimir Putin.
His Beatitude will return to his see on Tuesday 27th January 2004.