His All Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
On the Occasion of the Visit of Members of
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
(October 30-31, 2012)
|Your Eminence Metropolitan-elect Antony,|
Your Grace Bishop Daniel,
It is with profound pleasure and sincere love that we welcome you to this sacred Center of the Orthodox Church, the courtyard of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We receive you warmly and paternally as beloved children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, as faithful members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a history spanning seventeen centuries, during which it retained its administrative offices in this very city. It constitutes the spiritual center of all the local or independent Orthodox Churches, exercising leadership not by secular administration or external authority but rather by virtue of its historical primacy and responsibility for the ministry of unity.
Most especially, however, on this occasion, we would like to congratulate you wholeheartedly on the recent election of an experienced and competent successor to Metropolitan Constantine of blessed memory, who so lovingly and devotedly guided your Church for two decades. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, your extraordinary Sobor recently convened and deservedly elected His Eminence Archbishop Antony of Hierapolis as your new Metropolitan. We warmly congratulate Metropolitan Antony for his elevation and join in the fervent prayer and joyful wish of all members of your congregation: Axios!
As you are all aware, in recent years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has nurtured very close relations and a genuine concern for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church both in the United States, Canada and as well as in Ukraine. We recognize the intimate bonds that unite us, whose origins may be traced to the very establishment of Christianity over 1000 years ago at the direct initiative and involvement of the Mother Church of Constantinople in the blessed baptism of the Kievan Rus’. Moreover, we recall with vividness and fondness our official visit to Ukraine for the historic celebrations in July of 2008.
Nonetheless, we also nurture foster very intimate paternal relations with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, where we paternally encouraged the final and irrevocable unity of the existing Ukrainian jurisdictions, but above all where we personally invited the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to enter the spiritual family and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We wish all of you a memorable visit to this remarkable and historical “queen of cities.” This entire region is filled with significance for the Christian Church. It is here that St. Andrew passed on the apostolic torch and tradition to the Apostle Stachys; it is here that many of the earliest councils of the Church formulated the doctrine of the Christian faith; and, finally, it is here that the spiritual treasures of Byzantium – its theological, spiritual and cultural legacy – have been faithfully maintained over the centuries to this day.
May God bless you and your families, as well as your Church and your spiritual leaders. And may you return home enriched and inspired to serve the “one, holy catholic and apostolic Church” in the beautiful and blessed land of the United States of America.