Vice-President Biden Speaks to Ecumenical Patriarch

November 6, 2009

VICE-PRESIDENT BIDEN TO THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH: We are with you; We support the Ecumenical Patriarch as a leader of global standing

WASHINGTON – The Vice-President of the United States Joseph Biden and his wife hosted a formal dinner yesterday Nov. 4, at the Vice Presidential Residence to honor His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who during this third leg of his trip to the United States is visiting Washington, DC.

His All Holiness and the Vice-President had a long and fruitful meeting immediately prior to the dinner, where issues of mutual interest were discussed including religious freedom and religious tolerance, the interreligious and intercultural dialogue initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki and the leadership role of His All Holiness for the preservation of the natural environment. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has just concluded his Eighth Religion, Science and Environment Symposium in New Orleans, focusing on the Mississippi River.

“We are with you, [and] we support the Ecumenical Patriarch as a leader of global standing,” said Vice President Biden addressing the Ecumenical Patriarch and quoting the Ancient Greek fabulist Aesop who said “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance,” the Vice President said to His All Holiness: “You have always been brave and never from a safe distance. You have stared down those who seek to erode the authority of the Church tirelessly, professing the Greek Orthodox way for millions of followers.”

“Your Holiness I am truly grateful for your work on environmental awareness across the United States of America… You delivered a moving address in New Orleans and in New York, and you have inspired hundreds of thousands of Americans along the way,” continued Mr. Biden and added “you have been a champion for tolerance and interfaith dialogue reaching out to both the Catholic Church and the Moslem community, both in your native country Turkey and throughout the world.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his response to the Vice President thanked him for the love, the hospitality and his “lifetime of public service” for his fellow citizens and in defense of justice and freedom and he underlined current worldwide conditions:
“The current worldwide economic crisis has fast become a crisis of hope for the peoples of the world. The youth of the world are in doubt as to the security of their economic future, the stability and tranquility of the world’s many governments and nations, and the health and well-being of the planet that we all call “home.”

“For those of us who serve ancient and venerable spiritual institutions like the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we are challenged daily to convey spiritual truth in a context of acceptance and understanding of every person, whether they are adherents of our faith or not. We have the awesome task of instilling hope for the future in the hearts of the people of the world. Our message is not confined to any grouping, identity or language. For in these challenging times, Mr. Vice President, while you seek solutions in the worlds of finance, diplomacy, and social welfare, we offer the lasting and existentially meaningful alternatives to the “opiates of the people”. We have the sacred duty and trust to offer compassion, mercy, sacrifice, generosity, and ultimately love.” (for the full text see

The dinner was attended by Archbishop Demetrios of America, whom the Vice-President, calling him “a good friend” congratulated on his tenth anniversary of his enthronement, Metropolitans Geron Athanasios of Chalcedon and Amvrosios of Korea, Metropolitans of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, members of the clergy, many friends of the Vice President’s family, friends of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ambassadors, congressmen, senators and other officials.

Earlier in the day Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had delivered another major address at the Brookings Institution entitled, “Saving the Soul of the Planet,” on environmental responsibility. (See which was followed by a Luncheon in the Rayburn Room of the United States Capitol, co-hosted by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Majority Leader Harry Reid and a private meeting with Speaker Pelosi. (See the address

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