GOARCH - February 10, 1999

Visit of Archbishop Spyridon at the Greek Parliament

Athens - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon was received yesterday afternoon at the Greek Parliament as the invited guest of the Committees for Hellenism Abroad and Orthodoxy. Following the welcome of the Chairman of the Committee for Hellenism Abroad, Mr. Gregory Niotis and Mr. Stelios Papathemelis, Archbishop Spyridon addressed the joint session on the theme, "Greek Orthodoxy in America Today."

In his remarks, Archbishop Spyridon addressed a variety of perspectives concerning the Greek Orthodox Faith and People of America. He noted the foresight and wisdom of the His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the recognition and formation of new ecclesial entities in the Western Hemisphere. His speech was replete with references to the balance that Orthodoxy knows in the unity of Faith and Tradition that allows for multiplicity of expression. Also of note were his references to the receptivity of the American culture to Orthodoxy and his own joy at the number of converts who have come to the Orthodox Faith through the ministry of the Archdiocese.

Following the formal address, His Eminence engaged the Members of Parliament in an open question and answer session for more than an hour. Themes regarding Greek language and cultural education, press reports concerning the state of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the use of the vernacular in the Divine Services and the relationship of His Eminence with his predecessor, Archbishop Iakovos.

Speaking of Greek language and cultural education, His Eminence stressed the need to include all the treasures of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek culture in our programs of education, particularly if they are appeal to the whole person. Regarding press reports of varying points of view, the Archbishop stressed that the Archdiocese was unified ecclesiastically on every level - hierarchy, clergy, parish and the people of God. He noted that while differences of opinion and interpretation might exist, the unity of the Church, which is a matter of faith, is and shall remain safeguarded. Commenting on the use of Greek in the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence reiterated his constant and unchanged position that the Divine Service should be conducted in a language intelligible to the People of God. This position has always been consistent with the Archbishop's support for the Greek Language and Culture Commission that he appointed last year, to assess and design programs that will increase the appreciation and achievement of our communities in these fields. Members of Parliament were also interested in the relationship of His Eminence with his predecessor, Archbishop Iakovos, who had only days before completed a private visit to Greece. Commenting on that relationship, Archbishop Spyridon spoke of a human and realistic relationship saying:

"Our relationship is a warm one. It is like the relationship that a son has with his spiritual father. I desire to be honorable for my own sake and for the sake of others. I have a good, warm relationship with my predecessor."

This has certainly been demonstrated, particularly by the very warm fraternal exchange between the Hierarchs on the occasion of Archbishop last Spyridon's Nameday and Christmas.

Later on, at a dinner hosted by the Committee for Hellenism Abroad of the Parliament, Archbishop Spyridon made the following remarks:

"As a well-known visitor to Greece once said:

The spirit of Greece, passing through and ascending above the world, hath so animated universal nature, that the very rocks and woods, the very torrents and wilds burst forth with it.

"We, as grateful representatives of the Hellenic community of America, say to all of you today, that this statement is true indeed.

"The spirit of Greece is a living presence in our nation. The spirit of Greece is a vital force in our lives, in our families and communities, and in the wider American culture. The spirit of Greece can be seen in our literature. The spirit of Greece can be seen in our architecture. The spirit of Greece can be seen above all in the thousands of men and women who have joined themselves to our Greek-American communities of faith, who worship with us and pray with us and dance with us and work together with us for the future.

"We, the children of your grandparents and great-grandparents, we, the emissaries of Orthodox Faith and Hellenism in the Western Hemisphere, we, the sowers of the seeds of the spirit of Greece in our homeland across the ocean" we declare to you today, that these seeds are finding fertile soil, and are bringing forth a great harvest of proud achievements and lasting success in our strong and united Hellenic-American community.

"But out success is your success, our achievement is yours as well. For the same Spirit that "passes through and ascends above the world" binds us together in fraternity, in unity, and in love."

A private dinner with Ambassador Burns and his wife has been scheduled for Sunday evening following the Ambassador's reception in His Eminence's honor at his residence for approximately 200 people.

   February 10, 1999 ]