GOARCH - February 10, 1999

Archbishop Spyridon Honors Fallen Heroes of Greece
and Visits Greek Gvt. Leaders

Athens - This morning, at precisely 9:00 a.m., His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon paid tribute to the fallen heroes of Greece by laying a wreath and offering silent prayers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His Eminence was received in an official ceremony at the Tomb with an honor guard. Following this memorial tribute, the Archbishop commenced a day of official meetings with the leaders of the Hellenic Republic. He was accompanied throughout the day by His Grace Bishop Philotheos of Meloa, His Grace Bishop Alexios of Troas, Mr. John Catsimatidis, Mr. Peter Papanicolaou, Archimandrite John Heropoulos and Archdeacon Elias Villas.

The meetings began with the President of the Greek Parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis. The Archbishop met with the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Costas Simitis and the President of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Costis Stephanopoulos. In remarks on these meetings, His Eminence spoke of the spirit of cooperation and interest that exists in Greece for the Greek Orthodox People of America. He commented that the bridges between our countries and cultures must remain strong and open, recognizing the benefit to both peoples and to both countries.

In the afternoon, the Archbishop and his traveling party were the guests of Deputy Foreign Minister George Papandreou at a luncheon in honor of His Eminence. The luncheon produced a lively exchange of ideas and initiatives to strengthen the bridges between America and Greece, including a discussion for sister-parishes and student exchange programs.

Later in the afternoon, the Archbishop was received by the Minister of Education and Religion, Mr. Gerasimos Arsenis. He also paid a reciprocal visit to the Minister of Defense, Mr. Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who had himself visited the Archbishop at the Archdiocese in New York.

In the evening, the Archbishop will meet with the Minister of Culture, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos. Tomorrow, the Archbishop, accompanied by Minister Venizelos, will tour the Acropolis, which is not only the highest physical point in the City of Athens, but one of the highest points in civilization. The Acropolis and its environs contains the Parthenon and the Areopagos (Mars) Hill, where the Holy Apostle Paul preached the famous sermon "Men of Athens" (Acts 17:22 ff.). It is expected that His Eminence will address the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, commonly called the "Elgin Marbles."

Upcoming Events:

On Thursday, in addition to visiting the Acropolis, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon will be received by the Mayor of Athens, the Honorable Demetrios Avramopoulos.

In the afternoon, the Archbishop will be received by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, after which, there will be a Joint Press Conference and a luncheon hosted by Minister Pangalos in honor of His Eminence.

In the evening, the Archbishop will give an address at the University of Athens.

   February 10, 1999 ]