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Archon delegation travels to Turkey in support of Religious Freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presides at the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George on the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle.

A delegation of Archons observed the Feast Day of St. Andrew the First Called Apostle at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and received the blessings of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew following the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul on Nov. 30, 2007. Commander Limberakis stated "It is both humbling and inspiring to personally bear witness to the extraordinary Martyria and Diakonia of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Archons of the Mother Church in America under the leadership of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios will support and defend the Mother Church with renewed vigor and focus, as we overcome the religious freedom challenges confronting the Ecumenical Patriarchate."

The Archon delegation, traveled to Istanbul from Strasbourg, France, where they supported the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the European Court of Human Rights. [Read about the Archon trip to Strasbourg] The delegation also included Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, spiritual adviser; Archon Legal Committee Chairman Christopher Stratakis, and Archon Litigation Subcommittee Chairman George Rockas.
 

From left to right, Hussein Ozturk, Feliz Ozturk, National Commander Limberakis, Consul General Wiener and her husband, Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, and Christopher Stratakis.

Among dignitaries and hierarchs who attended the service from around the world were American Consul General Dr. Sharon Wiener and His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh. His Eminence, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President for the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led other prominent members of a Vatican delegation from the Church of Rome.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, an exchange of greetings took place in which Cardinal Kasper brought words from Pope Benedict XVI [Read Pope Benedict's greetings] along with a signed copy of the Pope's newly published encyclical, "Spe Salvi".

After extending his appreciation, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew responded to the Vatican delegation with a homily in which he said, "Today's celebration is an invitation extended to both our Churches to the unity of the Cross. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ stretched out His arms upon the Cross, uniting all that was formerly divided, so also His Apostle, in imitation of His Master, stretched out his arms, gathering us all today and calling us to stretch out our arms upon the cross spiritually in order to achieve the unity that we desire."

The homily of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew can be read in its entirety here. [Read the Ecumenical Patriarch's homily] Photos of the Feast of St. Andrew can be viewed in the Photo Gallery. [View the photos]