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GREETING
BY HIS ALL-HOLINESS
ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW
CHAIRMAN OF THE HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
TO THEIR BEATITUDES THE PRIMATES
OF THE AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCHES
UPON THEIR BEING NAMED MEMBERS
OF THE ORTHODOX ACADEMY OF CRETE
(June 24, 2016)

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Your Beatitudes and most esteemed brother Primates of the local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches,

It is with extraordinary sentiments of joy that we welcome the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Orthodox Academy of Crete to confer onto each and every one of You, Your Beatitudes and Most Holy brothers and concelebrants in Christ, the honorary distinction of being named Members of this Academy, for this is an honor that is justly conferred onto each of you as brother-church leaders by an Institution that has pledged itself to the service of dialogue and Christian reconciliation.

We congratulate each and every one of You for the honor bestowed upon You by this Academy as a show of recognition for each brother Primate’s invaluable contribution to the Church he leads, as well as his service to the dialogue taking place for the reconciliation and rapprochement between Christians and people from all over the world, without, of course, compromising our Orthodox positions, during an age when religious fanaticism and terrorism based upon false religious foundations are on the rise.

The Orthodox Academy of Crete operates – under the spiritual protection of our Ecumenical Patriarchate and the direct oversight of your beloved Eminence, brother Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kisamos and Selinos – as a place of dialogue and spiritual exchange between Orthodox Christians for the sake of formulating, as much as it is possible, a unified position on modern issues confronting mankind and the world. Up until today, the Academy has given many examples of this type of dialogue.

Furthermore, the Academy has offered remarkable examples of Orthodox positions being presented to other Christians and members of other religions in the dialogues with them, as well as on a wider scale, concerning faith, science, and culture.

Moreover, its establishment in these natural surroundings of exquisite beauty made available by the adjacent historic Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Panaghia Hodegetria in Gonia is intertwined with this spirit of dialogue and reconciliation, inasmuch as the construction of the Academy’s first facilities was made possible by financial assistance from the development Agency of the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Zentralstelle für Entwicklungshilfe), as a show of repentance and rapprochement in a place that was very closely associated with the Battle of Crete in 1941 – a heroic battle for freedom and human dignity, which exacted a heavy and bloody toll on the devout Orthodox people of Crete.

The operation of the Academy on the Island of Crete, as envisioned by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Irenaios Galanakis and his close aide the Honorable Alexander Papaderos, serves as further proof of how the Christian polity – the community of the faithful – can transform institutions, life, the people in an area, a country, and the entire world through the seed of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Church is the womb which regenerates man and the world through its peaceful and sacramental life, its ceaseless worship, and the examples of its Saints.

The state of our world would be different if the nations drew their inspiration from the Christian ideals of tolerance towards others, humility, mutual understanding, cooperation, and love for all people regardless of gender, race, language and religion. The state of affairs would be different if the world aligned its life with the one and only measure of true life – the Gospel. Then, it would, indeed, be possible to direct the major irresolvable problems of our planet – which have often been discussed in the halls of this Academy, such as the burning problem of the environment, over which we, the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, certainly display special concern – towards solutions that are in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel.

The Church gives life to the world and direction to civilization and history. It influences people, embraces them, unites them, makes them Christ-like and deifies them. 

With these general thoughts, on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and ourselves personally, we congratulate each brother receiving an honor both as an individual and as a spiritual leader contributing to dialogue and the preservation of the unity of our Orthodox Church, and we thank the esteemed Board of Trustees of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, because they embraced the event of the Holy and Great Council from the beginning with fervor and love, and realized its significance for the unity of Orthodox Christians and the strengthening of the voice of Orthodoxy in the modern world.

We especially point out that that through today’s conferral, but also through the totality of its valuable contribution to the organization of our Council, the Orthodox Academy of Crete proves that its interests are not just limited to the transmission of academic knowledge, but that it actively contributes to the work and life of our Church and Orthodox Christian unity, which also represents its most valuable virtue.

Embracing Your Beatitudes fraternally, we ascribe glory and thanksgiving together with all of Your Beatitudes, our blessed Brothers, to our Holy God, who so willed and arranged the life of His Orthodox Church and each one of us, for He was, and is, and will be in our midst, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.