His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was the recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award of the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in an emotion-filled evening, Saturday, October 27, at the New York Hilton. In presenting the award, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew stated:
"His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America exemplifies the very elements that constitute the Athenagoras Human Rights Award - humanity, humility, holiness, compassion and leadership. We will never forget his extraordinary personal care in the tragic aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. On the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of his ordination to the Episcopacy and eighth year as Archbishop of America, we honor him for his exemplary service to humankind as an Orthodox hierarch, theologian, statesman and biblical scholar."[Read National Commander's address]
Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Award honors Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader of Orthodoxy, numbering more than 250 million faithful worldwide, who worked for peace among Churches and people throughout his life. Previous recipients have included Archbishop Iakovos, President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, President Mikhael Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and Elie Wiesel.
Escorted by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Dr. Limberakis, Archbishop Demetrios received an enthusiastic and warm reception as he entered a packed ballroom. Ambassador Negroponte led a list of dignitaries extolling the honored guest including: Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias, Ambassador of Cyprus Andreas Kakouris, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Commission in the U.S Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, DC Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and Dr. Antonios Trakatellis, former Vice President of the European Parliament and brother of Archbishop Demetrios.
Congressman Zack Space (D-OH), served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Maria Foscarinis, founder and Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) addressed the Order of St. Andrew Ladies' Tea reception on Saturday afternoon.
In his heartfelt comments regarding his good friend Archbishop Demetrios, Cardinal McCarrick also brought greetings from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with whom he had just been in Naples, Italy, and in conclusion said that "you know how blessed you are in having this great Archbishop, you know it and we know it, too."
"Archbishop Demetrios", said Deputy Secretary Negroponte, "joins a distinguished group of honorees as a stalwart man of faith who has demonstrated exemplarily service to humankind, as an extraordinary humanitarian and advocate of human rights. ...Your Eminence, we are indebted to you for your wisdom, your deeds and your faith, please accept my deep congratulations."
In his response Archbishop Demetrios generously thanked the Archons, the guest speakers and honored guests on the dais and reflected on the ideals and significance of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award for human rights and religious freedom. His Eminence emphasized the need for more interreligious and intercultural dialogues stating that it is not possible to deal with human rights without dialogue.
Archbishop Demetrios has responded to numerous national and international needs and crises including the Macedonian issue in November 2004, and specific acts of terrorism, such as the violence against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the attack on the school in Beslan, Russia, both in September of 2004. In March of 2005, Archbishop Demetrios testified before the Helsinki Commission regarding issues of religious freedom and the function of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.
Enthroned at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on September 18, 1999, Archbishop Demetrios, the spiritual leader of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox Christians in America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the sixth Archbishop of America since the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was established in 1922.
In the time following his enthronement, Archbishop Demetrios has met with clergy and laity of the Archdiocese in an intense effort to strengthen conditions of unity and peace and to advance the administrative and ecclesiastical stability of the work of the Church in America. His Archpastoral message has been one that has called for unity, genuine relationships, and an ever-increasing commitment to God and to service in the name of Christ.
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SOURCE: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America