The following speeches and addresses were delivered from speakers in the 1st Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom which was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium in November 2010.


Salutation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Archbishop Of Constantinople, New Rome, And Ecumenical Patriarch

NOVEMBER 16, 2010

Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America
Your Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France,
Your Eminences and Graces, brother Hierarchs,
Your Excellencies, Ministers, Officials and Governmental Representatives,
Distinguished Professors and Scholars,
Beloved and Esteemed Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Beloved spiritual children in the Lord,

With great spiritual satisfaction and gratefulness of heart, we greet all of you, the participants of this truly historic religious freedom conference, as you commence your work and days of collaboration and exchange. We especially thank the sponsors of the event, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, and the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe, in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, for their offering of this most significant symposium. We also wish to express our deepest appreciation to the Members of the European Institutions and to the Turkish Republic for their extraordinary participation in and engagement with this event.

For our part, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is committed to the cause of religious freedom for all peoples around the world, without exception and without prejudice. For if the freedom to express one's faith in the Divine, even as respect for differing views is abrogated in any way, then we must assert that we are not truly free. Whether of the Abrahamic faiths or the other great traditions of the world's religions, it is only in our free and fully human response to God that the possibility to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) truly exists.

This conference presents an opportunity to a diverse cross section of scholars, policy makers, legislators, and religious and community leaders to examine in detail what genuine religious freedom is, and how it is best guaranteed for all God's children. Your work is of utmost importance for our modern world, where respect to the "otherness" in our fellow human beings seems to be diminishing in the face of the rising fundamentalist ideologies.

From our City, where continents meet and civilizations exist in parallel planes, we convey to all of you our paternal and Patriarchal blessing, that your days together be fruitful, exhilarating, and enlightening for the whole world to see. May the God of all mercy, all peace and all love be with you all, this day, and forevermore.