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House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat, Congressman Eliot Engel statement on the Holy and Great Council Meeting of the Orthodox Christian Churches

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today entered into the Congressional Record the following statement on the Great and Holy Council meeting of the Orthodox Christian Churches that began on Sunday:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the Orthodox Christian community, and recognize the historic Great and Holy Council meeting in Greece from June 19-26, 2016.

"Bringing together 350 leaders of 14 Orthodox Christian Churches from Istanbul to Antioch to Romania to Slovakia, this Council represents more than 300 million followers worldwide, including one million Americans. While Council attendees self-govern their churches, they remain united in their values, faith, liturgy, and following of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

"Under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarch, this is the first gathering of Orthodox churches in 1,200 years. The Council will underscore the direction, purpose, and mission of Orthodox Christian Churches. It is an opportunity to discuss the Diaspora and relations with other Christian churches worldwide.

"The Ecumenical Patriarch has an unsurpassed record for steering cooperative effort, adding this remarkable Council to his record of success. Often referred to as the "first among equals" by his followers, the Ecumenical Patriarch maintains collegial relations with other Patriarchs and hierarchical leaders. His effectiveness as a leader is complemented by his gracious and generous spirit.

"Mr. Speaker, at a time when religious division remains a source of conflict and suffering, I celebrate this Council for its message of unity, tolerance, and peace."