GOARCH - February 9, 1999

Archbishop Spyridon Meets with Archbishop Christodoulos
following Athens Arrival

Athens -  His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon touched down in Athens for his first visit as Archbishop of America to Greece and as the official guest of the Hellenic Republic at 11:00 a.m., Athens time. His Eminence was received by the Deputy Foreign Minister George Papandreou, representing the Government of Greece, and His Grace Bishop Pavlos of Neochorion, representing the Church of Greece, as well as other dignitaries. The Archbishop and his synodia disembarked and were immediately escorted to the VIP lounge where the Archbishop made the following statement: $

"It is with a heart filled with inexpressible joy that we plant our feet firmly and proudly on the soil of our Motherland, the Mother of our Faith and the Mother of our ideals of freedom and democracy.

"I bear with me the greetings and felicitations of the Greek Orthodox People of America, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and of all the many friends of Greece in the United States.

"We have traveled across the great ocean that divides our continents to affirm that we shall never be divided in love, never be divided in faith, never be divided in the values and principles that bind us together as Hellenes and Philhellenes - Greek Orthodox Christians of true faith and true worship.

"Today, with the blessings of our Almighty and All-Good God, I commence my first visit to Greece as the spiritual leader and Prokathemenos of the Greek Orthodox People of America. Their message to their patriotes and co-religionists is clear. We have one faith! We are one family! And we must recognize that as a human family, we can have only one possible future for our children and our grandchildren, if there is to be any future for humanity at all.

"The People of America -- historically -- the most powerful nation on earth, and the People of Greece -- again historically -- the wisest nation on earth, share a common vision for the future. It is a future dominated by peace, respect for human rights and the absolute dignity of humankind.

"On behalf of all the faithful Greek Orthodox of America, I embrace each and every one of you, and I pray that our All-Merciful God shall grant to this land and to this people every good and abundant blessing. Beloved Friends, kalos sas vrikame!"

At 2:00 p.m. local time, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon was received by His Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Autocephalous Church of Greece. His Eminence was received in the private office of His Beatitude and hosted to refreshments by His Beatitude in an adjoining formal audience chamber.

The two leaders of their respective flocks sat facing each other for nearly an hour, exchanging fraternal best wishes and sharing common concerns and opinions. The warmth and hospitality offered by His Beatitude was palpable, and was summed up by His Beatitude's remarks that he hoped Archbishop Spyridon would consider "my house as your house."

After nearly one hour of fellowship and congenial conversation, the Archiepiscopal synodia posed for pictures with His Beatitude and both Archbishops made a joint statement to nearly fifty members of the Press, who had been waiting throughout their meeting.

In the evening, Archbishop Spyridon will meet with the Chairman, Mr. Grigoris Niotis, and members of the Council for Hellenes Abroad and Orthodoxy and deliver an address. Later, the Chairman will host a dinner for Archbishop Spyridon and his synodia.

Official quarters for the Archiepiscopal party throughout the week will be the Grande Bretagne Hotel, across from the Greek Parliament on Constitution Square.

   February 9, 1999 ]