The Metropolitan of Chalcedon
The Ecumenical Patriarchate
First, let me warmly thank the esteemed Mr. Gerasimos Vassilopoulos for the dinner he is hosting in my honour, and all the highly distinguished guests, I Also wish to thank His Eminence,The Metropolitan of Corinth, Mr. Panteleimon, a highly respected leader not only of the Greek Church but of all Orthodoxy, to which he has offered and continues to offer significant contributions.
Next, I express my joy, since this meeting is realised in the atmosphere of tightening the bonds of friendship and mutual respect between Greeks and Turks, on the occasion of this Symposium on Biopolitics, whose soul and pioneer is the esteemed Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis. I congratulate her on this highly successful initiative.
The presence this evening of His Excellency, the Ambassador of our country in Athens, Mr Gunduz Aktan, gives me a special joy and honour. As a man of religion, a Greek in origin and a Turk in nationality, I cannot but rejoice the congratulate all those who contribute to the coming together of the two neighbours and especially today when so many real miracles are happening around us, like the abolition of walls and the tightening of bonds among individuals and nations.
Allow me please, dear friends, to repeat a relevant statement I made during my enthronement speech in Chalcedon, last January. “We live today in a cosmogony. Humanity is undertaking a new era of conciliation, peace, justice, friendship and democracy. All nations, and even more those who are neighbours, are called to live from now on in this climate, building bridges with one another and not walls against each other.”
It would be a commonplace to remind you that the Orthodox Church in every service prays for peace in the universe and the unity of all. And our Patriarchate in Constantinople wishes to contribute always towards peace, stability, friendship and co-operation between Turkey and Greece, since it is believed that the people of the two countries are obliged to live the one near the other and have many more things that bind them together than divide them.
I wish to offer a toast for health and happiness of all those present, for the complete success of your bright and delicate mission, Mr. Ambassador, and for a stable Turkish-Hellenic friendship and co-operation for the common good.
His Eminence the Metropolitan of Chalcedon Mr Vartholomeos was born on the island of Imvros, Turkey, in 1940. In 1961, he graduated from the Theological School of Halki. Soon later he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate. He continued his studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome (Ph.D), the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Geneva and the University of Munich. From 1968 to 1971 he served as Assistant to the Dean of the Theological School of Halki. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in October 1969 and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite four months later. In 1972, he was appointed administrator of the newly established Patriarchal Office by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios. He maintained this position until elected Senior Metropolitan of Chalcedon, in January 1990. As member of the Holy Synod, he participated in numerous Synodical Commissions. He is one of the founders of the Society of Canon Law in the Oriental Churches. He participated in the Official Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, the 4th, 6th and 7th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches. He has been called to represent the Ecumenical Patriarchate in various delegations.