At the invitation of His Eminenence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Anthony J. Limberakis, MD, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, offered remarks on the worldwide spiritual father, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on the occasion of his nameday (June 11). National Commander Limberakis' remarks were delivered following the Great Vespers at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York, NY on Saturday, June 10. His remarks are available to read below:
Remarks of Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis,
National Commander Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
on the Occasion of the
Feastday of St. Bartholomew the Apostle of our Lord
Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church
New York City
June 10, 2023
Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Reverend Clergy of the Saint Bartholomew Episcopal Church, thank you for your warm hospitality, Your Graces Bishop Apostolos and Bishop Athenagoras, Reverend Fathers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, National Treasurer Archon Peter J. Skeadas, fellow Archons and Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On this Feastday of His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, we gather here in this magnificent byzantine domed cathedral to reflect on the extraordinary and historic tenure of the longest serving Ecumenical Patriarch in history, 32 years on the Throne of St. Andrew.
When I think of His All-Holiness, three words come to mind that describe a remarkable leader who has left lasting and impactful achievements for the Oikoumene.
The first word is VISION.
His All-Holiness has been blessed with a grand vision that encompasses a myriad of issues that affect individuals from everyday people to the leaders of great nations, such as President Biden. Known as the “Green Patriarch,” Bartholomew pioneered the call for the preservation of God’s Creation on earth and in his words: “As Orthodox Christians, we use the Greek word kairos to describe a critical moment in time, often a specific historical period with lasting repercussions and eternal significance. For humankind and the planet as a whole, now is our kairos: the decisive time in our relationship with all of God’s creation, when we must respond in an opportune manner to protect life on earth from the worst consequences of human recklessness.”
The second word that I think of when I reflect on the expansive impact of His All-Holiness is the word COURAGE, which was used in the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor citation, recognizing Bartholomew’s spiritual leadership. It is one thing to have the vision to establish goals, but it is quite another situation to exhibit the courage to attain those goals. Confronting enormous pressures to the contrary, His All-Holiness on January 5, 2019 granted autocephaly to the 43 million Orthodox Christians of Ukraine who deserved their own religious freedom. Religious freedom from the tyranny of the Russian Patriarchate, a patriarchate that is complicit in the horrific war against Ukraine. Bartholomew bravely stood up to the Patriarch of the wealthiest and largest Church in the Orthodox World, Kirill, and to the most ruthless totalitarian leader in modern times, Putin, which took unparalleled courage at enormous personal risk and danger. And yet today, Kiev the city where Christianity was first established in the Slavic World, centuries before Moscow, is now the headquarters of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine…. All because of the Courage of a single and historic Ecumenical Patriarch….. Bartholomew.
The third word that comes to my mind upon reflecting on the breadth of the worldwide ministry of His All-Holiness is LOVE, AGAPE, perhaps the most important of the charismata of His All-Holiness and the most Christ-like attribute of Bartholomew. It was his love of unity that he organized and presided over the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete, the first such gathering of its kind in 1200 years. At this Council the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America offered significant behind the scenes technical, financial, and logistical support which facilitated strategic discussions among our worldwide spiritual fathers led by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Such subjects as the Sacrament of Marriage, the Orthodox Diaspora and Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World were explored in great depth. And this Council, 55 years in the making and methodically and meticulously planned and organized by His All-Holiness was the ultimate manifestation of his love and support of unity for the worldwide Orthodox Faithful.
A fitting and noble tribute to His All-Holiness Bartholomew, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America established the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation together with the Exarch, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The Foundation, which has over $20 million in pledges, will provide essential financial security for the Spiritual Center of the World’s 300 million Faithful in perpetuity while honoring His All-Holiness Bartholomew, as the Foundation bears his name. Indeed, the Bartholomew Foundation will safeguard the economic footing of the Phanar, yesterday, today and tomorrow, Hebrews 13:8, so that the Ecumenical Patriarch, whoever it is and in whatever century, will be able to carry out his worldwide salvific ministry without concern for financial need.
Please allow me to conclude this evening by offering my deep gratitude to Archbishop Elpidophoros of America for including the Archons in the St. Bartholomew Great Vespers Program and his ongoing heartfelt support and participation in the efforts of the Archons to secure the Religious Freedom and wellbeing of the Holy Mother Church. Archbishop Elpidophoros is a true son of the Mother Church whose ministry in America these past four years has been most impactful. Εἰς Πολλά Ἕτη!
We are especially thankful to our Spiritual Advisor Fr. Alex Karloutsos who in his trademark indefatigable way, is always there for the Order, as we relentlessly launch domestic and international programing for the good Ecumenical Patriarchate. And finally, I thank all my Brother Archons and their devoted families for carrying the torch of religious freedom for the Holy Mother Church.