U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in advance of the Holy and Great Council to be held in Greece.
"This weekend, I join Orthodox Christians in recognizing the beginning of the historic Holy and Great Council on the island of Crete, Greece. This marks the first time since the year 787 that the leaders of the Orthodox churches will gather together to discuss fundamental issues related to faith and morality.
"On the eve of this historic event, I honor the convener of this historic meeting, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. His All-Holiness has received awards from the United Nations, the United States, and other nations for providing moral leadership throughout modern history's greatest tests. His efforts to convene this Holy and Great Council is a testament to his continued leadership at a time when it is greatly needed.
"Greece is the appropriate place to convene the Holy and Great Council. Members of the Greek Orthodox Church led the first resistance that was able to defeat a thrust of Axis Forces during World War II, with one in 10 Greek Orthodox Christians in Greece losing their lives in the effort. And, Greek Archbishop Damaskinos was the only national religious leader in a Nazi-occupied country to publically challenge the Holocaust as it was occurring, with his actions saving the lives of thousands of Jews.
"Our world today is in need of this exceptional moral courage, and I applaud Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for convening this Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Christian Churches in Crete, Greece."