|His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, led a delegation to Moscow, Russia at the invitation of Patriarch Alexy II.
Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, led a delegation from the Archdiocese on a seven-day official visit to the Patriarchate of Moscow. This first official visit of an Archbishop of America to the Church of Russia comes after the invitation of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. Together with the Metropolitans of Boston, Atlanta, and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, Archons Michael Jaharis, Dr. Antoine Harovas, and Jerry Dimitriou accompanied the Archbishop together with Fr. Alex Karloutsos, Archon Spiritual Advisor, and other representatives of the Archdiocese.
Upon the first full day of the delegation in Moscow on May 23rd, Archbishop Demetrios and the members of the delegation journeyed to the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius Lavra, one of the most famous Orthodox Monasteries in the world, founded in 1340 by St. Sergius of Radonezh, the patron Saint of Russia. Archbishop Demetrios addressed seminarians of the Moscow Spiritual Academy and Theological Seminary on the theology that stands behind how the Message of the Gospel is transmitted to heal a wounded and ailing world, highlighting how SS. Cyril and Methodios brought the healing power of the Gospel to Russia through their apostolic mission from Constantinople. Following the return to Moscow, the delegation proceeded to the Greek Embassy, where Ambassador Ilias Klis greeted the delegation.
On Saturday, the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodios, Archbishop Demetrios, the hierarchs and clergy concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Alexy in the 14th-century Dormition Cathedral inside the Kremlin. This commemoration of Slavic Letters Day, a national and religious holiday throughout Russia, was followed with a reception at the the official Patriarchal residence inside the Danilovsky Monastery.
On Sunday, the delegation celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the massive Christ the Savior Cathedral. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, the Archbishop spoke of the great emotion he felt returning to the cathedral after eight years, when he represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate, by leading the Patriarchal delegation that participated in its Consecration. He spoke of the remarkable progress of the Russian Orthodox Church and congratulated Patriarch Alexy for his leadership.
On Monday, the delegation visited the Central Hospital of the Moscow Patriarchate, a Church philanthropic institution restored to church ownership only in the last decade. Mrs. Aphrodite Skeadas, Treasurer of National Philoptochos, made a presentation of $25,000 to the hospital and offered greetings and remarks on behalf of the 27,000 women of Philoptochos throughout the Archdiocese of America. Archbishop Demetrios personally greeted some of the patients on the neurological ward, blessing them and sharing a pastoral moment with them. The delegation's two physicians, Drs. Anthony Limberakis and Antoine Harovas joined discussions with staff relating to the healthcare system in Russia. Later in the afternoon, the Archbishop was received at the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
Before his official meeting with Patriarch Alexy on Tuesday, the delegation enjoyed a private tour of the Kremlin palaces. The official meeting with Patriarch Alexy occurred at his official residence. Patriarch Alexy stressed the importance of the visit of His Eminence as the Exarch of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, adding "whom we wholeheartedly love." Archbishop Demetrios extended his appreciation and gratitude for the Patriarch's invitation remarking on the state of Orthodoxy in America stressing the challenges created by advanced technology and increasing secularization and relativization. His Eminence's conclusion that a byproduct of increased secularization is an increased thirst for God leading to more conversions to Orthodox Christianity became a theme that he and the Patriarch returned to throughout their meeting together.
Before departing for the United States, the Archbishop led the delegation through two visits to both the Danilov and Donskoy Monasteries.
Later reflecting on the historic visitation to the Church of Russia, Commander Limberakis remarked, "The invitation of Patriarch Alexy to our beloved Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a manifestation of the mutual love and esteem that exists among the Orthodox Faithful throughout the world. The Church of Russia which received its Orthodox Christian faith from the Holy and Great Mother Church of Constantinople in the ninth century, and itself persecuted by the totalitarian communist regime for some 80 years, can be extremely supportive in the Archon religious freedom mission for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We are very grateful to Archbishop Demetrios for inviting the Order of St. Andrew to participate in this historic visitation and to Patriarch Alexy for the gracious hospitality offered to the delegation during our stay in Russia."
For thorough coverage and photos of the trip, visit www.goarch.org.