Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
Your All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Your Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey our gracious host this evening and dynamic leader of the Metropolis, beloved and respected hierarchs and clergy, Governor McGreevey, Members and officers of the Archon National Council, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Ladies and Gentlemen, look around you this evening, Orthodox faithful in great numbers from New Jersey, from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and from Virginia and Delaware and from all reaches of the Metropolis of New Jersey the faithful have come to honor our beloved spiritual father. They have come to express their profound respect and affection for the 270th successor of St. Andrew the First Called Apostle of Jesus Christ and the brother of St. Peter. They have come, we have come as a family of Jesus Christ during this Great Lenten Period to make a statement that the Church in America reveres its sacred bond with the Holy Mother Church. The faithful throughout America, including those of us here this evening from the Metropolis, seek to nurture our ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate that directly link us with Jesus Christ and the 12 Disciples. We deeply appreciate the visionary pastoral leadership of our beloved Bartholomew, the insightful shepherd of world Orthodoxy who for the first time in modern history internationalized the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by inviting six hierarchs outside of Turkey, including our beloved Archbishop Demetrios representing the Church in America, to participate as a Member of this canonical decision making body of our Church.
Like no other Ecumenical Patriarch, our beloved Bartholomew has traveled the four corners of the globe to promote peace, bring people in conflict together and spread the word of God. Whether it is in Geneva or New York, Constantinople or Ankara, or in the Muslim countries of Bahrain, Qatar, Iran, Azerbaijan or Libya, whether it is in Kathmandu Nepal at the footsteps of the Himalayas, or during the recent trip to Cuba, the patriarchal message of love and salvation is clear. His All Holiness always takes great care to remind humankind wherever he may be and to whatever audience he may address what our Lord and Savior said on Holy Thursday, during the Last Supper and that is: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you (John 13:34).
As I close my comments this evening, having recently returned from Constantinople and Ankara when the Archon Leadership traveled to meet with our spiritual father at the Phanar and to fight for religious freedom in Ankara, I wish to close with the inspiring words of His All Holiness presented in New York City at the Archon Concert for Peace on October 25th, 1997, words that were most apropos then as they are today on this Cross Sunday as we commemorate the Holy and Sacred Cross of Jesus Christ: and I quote His All Holiness:
The Cross - is a symbol in the most basic and fundamental sense of the word, - that which unites and binds together. On its vertical axis, the Cross reconciles man to God through the sacrifice of love ... On its horizontal axis, the Cross unites each of us to our neighbors, both those near and those far off ... The Cross points not to conquest of another by force of arms, but rather to winning your neighbor by love, by forgiveness, by patience, by long-suffering.
Ladies and Gentlemen: with this cross of Jesus Christ in our hearts and souls, we welcome our most beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Metropolis of New Jersey.
Eis pola eti despota.