The Grand Chancellor then escorted them to the Eugenidion Mansion, where His All-Holiness awaited and greeted them, in accordance with tradition. There, His All-Holiness expressed his pleasure for the visit of the United States' head of diplomacy.
Present during the cordial, private audience that followed, were Their Eminences Metropolitans Emmanuel of France and Maximos of Silivria, the V. Rev. Archim. Joachim, Deacon Kallinikos Chasapis, and the esteemed Mr. Panteleimon Vingas, advisor to the Patriarch, along with Mrs. Pompeo and Ambassador Satterfield.
At the center of their discussion, which lasted more than one hour, were issues that concern the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Community of the City, and the Orthodox faithful in the country. They also discussed Orthodoxy in the world and the progression of inter-Christian dialogue. Regarding the USA, His All-Holiness referred to the multidimensional work of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, but also of the Greek Diaspora there, which is a brilliant and dynamic part of American society. They also had the opportunity to discuss issues of wider interest, such as the initiatives of the Ecumenical Throne to raise public awareness to the need to preserve creation and the natural environment, as well as the Interreligious dialogue aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence and sharing between different peoples and cultures. In this context, there was an exchange of views on the issue of respect for fundamental rights and religious freedom in the world, the consolidation of which is of known interest to the USA. His All-Holiness stressed the need to protect Christians, but also the religious communities of the Middle East, which in recent years have been severely tested by war, while a large number have experienced uprooting and exile.
During the Secretary of State's departure from the Phanar, the Ecumenical Patriarch bade him farewell at the Patriarchate's gates, and thanked him for his honorary visit to the Center of Orthodoxy.
Statement by H.E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
Immediately after the visit of the US Secretary of State to the Phanar, H.E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, in a statement to the media, described the US Secretary of State’s visit to the Phanar as historic, recalling that other US Secretaries of State had made similar visits to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He said issues of religious freedom and fundamental rights, the protection of the Christian presence in the Middle East, and issues facing Orthodoxy around the world were discussed.
“As the Ecumenical Patriarchate we are responsible for the unity of Orthodoxy and for its benefit and also [plays] an important role of having peace in the world. And religious communities can play a very important role in safeguarding peace and stability in the globe, and we all know that.”
Asked if the issue of Hagia Sophia had been raised by Mr. Pompeo, the Metropolitan of France said that the matter had been discussed but that he was not in the position to make any comment. He reminded, however, that His All-Holiness has repeatedly referred to the issue and has expressed the views and regret of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for this political decision.
[photo credit: Nikos Manginas / Ecumenical Patriarchate]