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Archons Meet to Address Religious Freedom Agenda

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios meets with members of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Click here to view more photos from the event.

New York – A panel discussion on Religious Freedom, the core mission of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was held recently at Archon Dean Poll’s Boathouse in Central Park by members of the Order of Saint Andrew of the Direct Archdiocesan District. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney were among the featured addressed that attended the meeting.

Regional Commander of the Archdiocesan District, Peter Skeadas along with the Chairman of the Religious Freedom Committee, John Catsimatidis, opened the discussion by introducing and thanking Senator Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer for taking time out of his hectic schedule to make it to the meeting. The New York Times wrote that Chuck “is a more serious lawmaker with more rooted values, sounder policy positions and a deeper commitment to the common good.”

The first Senator to sign the letter to President Bush regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Religious Freedom, the Senator expressed that he is “extremely proud to be the first signer of the letter to the President urging him to protect the Religious Freedom of the Orthodox Church that is being threatened by the Turkish government.” The Senator closed his remarks by stating that he looks forward to seeing all the Archons, who have been named Grand Marshals of the Greek Independence Day Parade, on April 15th.

National Commander, Dr. Anthony Limberakis, presented a power point slide presentation regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Religious Freedom. “The Order of Saint Andrew is like no other organization in the Archdiocese and Metropolises. Archons are focused on the survival, promotion and defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” Among the topics covered in his presentation, Dr. Limberakis emphasized how important it is, as an Archon, to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate in person and to make that commitment to travel half-way around the world and experience, first hand, the shocking treatment that Orthodox Christians endear every day. “Bring your family and go see the holy relics of St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. Visit Ankara and express your concerns to the American Ambassador concerning Religious Freedom.” He also stressed how important it is that whenever in the presence of a political, or community leader to bring up the issue and inform them how dire it is that action be taken immediately.

Dr. Limberakis announced that His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, who earned a Th.D in Theology from the University of Athens, a Ph.D from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and celebrates his 40th year as Episcopacy this year as bishop, is the recipient of the 2007 Athenagoras Human Rights Award. “He has written books, articles, and is a world expert on the New Testament and of Saint Paul. Our spiritual father always advocates for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Religious Freedom at the highest levels of government.”

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios thanked the National Commander, Dr. Limberakis, the Archons and the attendees for coming and started his speech with his recent trip to Washington where the topic of most conversations was the Ecumenical Patriarchate. President George Bush “offered his whole-hearted admiration of the offering of the Greek Orthodox community” in a private meeting with His Eminence whom he found to be “exceedingly cordial”. “You know what becomes now more and more of a tremendous factor for the Turkish government, a group of people known as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We’ve become a nightmare for them. Believe it or not, these Archons are everywhere. They’re in Constantinople, in the European Union, Capitol Hill, the State Department, in Ankara, everywhere. And you should know, in terms of political handlings of today, that human groups, groups of people concerned and dedicated to an idea are much more effective than diplomacy,” said His Eminence.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended the luncheon as well. In her speech, she noted that when she “goes back to Congress, we need to put legislation to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate with legal independence and personality and not to interfere with the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch that is interfering with Religious Freedom. And very importantly, to stop confiscating the Church’s property and to return the orphanage that was seized”. She also thanked and congratulated John Catsimatidis for his efforts in achieving air time for the Greek Independence Day Parade on Fox 5 and is looking forward to attending.

In closing the luncheon, Dr. Limberakis and John Catsimatidis presented copies of the full-page Religious Freedom ad in the New York Times that appeared in the national issue here in the United States to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Dr. John Brademas, Dr. Evangelos Gizis, Dr. Christos P. Ioannides and Regional Commander of the Archdiocesan District, Peter Skeadas.

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