On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, a delegation from the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, met in Washington, D.C. with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a longtime champion of the rights and freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Rashad Hussain, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, in order to discuss mutual efforts to protect and defend our Holy Mother Church in Constantinople.
Attending the meetings were Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., Archon Aktouarios, National Commander of the Order; the Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis, Archon Ekdikos, the Order’s National Vice Commander; and Emmanuel “Mike” Manatos, Archon Dikaiophylax, the President of Manatos & Manatos, which has been described by the Washington Post as "one of Washington's most powerful lobbying firms." Father Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, also attended the meeting with Senator Menendez.
Senator Menendez, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Dec. 19, 2022 delivered a powerful speech on the Senate floor condemning Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats to target Athens with ballistic missiles, and decrying Turkey’s suppression of human rights and restrictions on religious freedom.
In conversation with the Archon delegation, Senator Menendez revealed that he carries two cards in his pocket every day: a mass card for his dear mother Evangelina, who passed away in 2009, and a card that was given to him by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. On October 26, 2021, Nancy Pelosi, who was serving at that time as Speaker of the House of Representatives, held a reception for His All-Holiness during his apostolic visit to the United States. At that reception, His All-Holiness gave Senator Menendez a card featuring a photograph of himself with Pope Francis. It is a testimony to Senator Menendez’ deep respect for His All-Holiness and the Ecumenical Patriarchate that he carries that card with him to this day. In addition, during his tenure as a member of the House of Representatives from New Jersey, Menendez sponsored legislation to protect the religious and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Archon delegation also met with Rashad Hussain, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. They discussed key issues regarding religious freedom worldwide, including the ongoing plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.
After the meeting, Ambassador Hussain tweeted: “I welcomed Archons of the @orderstandrew to the State Department to honor their commitment to democracy, human rights, and religious freedom. Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate the Annunciation this week as Greece, the birthplace of democracy, celebrates its independence day.”