Banquet Message of Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis

National Commander
Order Of Saint Andrew The Apostle
Archons Of The Ecumenical Patriarchate In America

NOVEMBER 17, 2010

Venerable Hierarchs, distinguished scholars and guests, brother Archons, ladies and gentlemen,

It is difficult for me to express in adequate fashion the delight and pride that I feel, on behalf of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for the incomparable success and invaluable significance of the international conference that we have all experienced over the last two days here in the beautiful and historical city of Brussels, the capital of Europe.

It is still more difficult for me to describe in accurate manner the crucial value and global consequences of such a gathering organized jointly by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle together with the Pammakaristos Brotherhood and the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union and the European Parliament.

It is, therefore, only appropriate and proper for me to convey my wholehearted gratitude to those who inspired, as well as to those who organized this unique event, without whom it would have been impossible even to imagine, let alone materialize.

As people of faith and leaders instilled with religious values, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge our humble gratitude to our Heavenly Father who calls us to become brothers and sisters in these unusual and unparalleled times. Perhaps at no other moment in history can human beings be said to have been in the singular and extraordinary position not simply to be passive observers of circumstances and events around them, but active participants and shapers of the future that lies ahead of them. These are indeed critical times that call for critical measures in order to respond to critical issues. And we remain thankful to God for the opportunity and the calling to confront these challenges and transform our world.

Moreover, we are all profoundly grateful to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the remarkable inspiration and unrivalled leadership. Over two decades, His All Holiness has proved to be a pioneer peacemaker and bridgebuilder and has provided an example for leaders of all faiths and all nations to address complicated, yet vital problems related to human rights, religious freedom and ecological awareness. He has encouraged mutual respect and peacemaking on an international level, supported the rights of minorities and the vulnerable, and championed intercultural and interfaith dialogue. For this, and for so much more, I express to His All Holiness my humble gratitude and unwavering support.

I am also appreciative of the spiritual and scholarly dimensions brought to the work of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. His presence here, despite his committed schedule as primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and his essential contribution to the overall success of this conference through his stimulating reflections and insights cannot be underestimated.

His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel has long stood as a living witness, a burning candle, and a spiritual icon reflecting the extraordinary vision of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew both in the promotion of inter-religious tolerance and dialogue as well as in the relationship of the Orthodox Church with the European Union and the European Parliament. Without the encouragement of His Eminence, we could not have reached where we are; without the coordination of his office, we could not have convened this event.

Finally, there is no doubt in my mind that the success and significance of this conference is overwhelmingly due to the presence and participation here of the renowned academics, diplomats, political leaders, lawyers and policy-makers, – from the European Union and from throughout the world – who have both understood in their minds and embraced in their hearts the phenomenal implications and fundamental importance of the role of the modern Republic of Turkey for Europe and the entire world as this nation seeks membership in the European Union and as it grapples with issues related to its religious and cultural minorities.

If we have learned one thing in recent years, it is the fact that we can only advance together; we can only grow if we are prepared to work together; and we can only succeed if we are willing to consider our challenges together.

As we prepare to leave tomorrow for our homes, let us offer our deep gratitude to the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Archon George C. Rockas who worked with extraordinary commitment over the past year to ensure the success of this watershed event and to our Spiritual Advisor Fr. Alexander Karloutsos whose constant guidance was invaluable.  To our Executive Committee Archon Nicholas J. Bouras, our Conference Grand Benefactor, and to Secretary John Halecky, Treasurer James Fountas, Sgt at Arms Alex Pritsos we offer our thanksgiving.  To Presvytera Xanthi our National Office Manager, John Mindala our graphic designer and Archimandrite Aimilianos we offer our appreciation.  And finally, to the Archons of America who contributed over $400,000 to make this landmark conference possible we are deeply grateful.

I thank you all for your participation in this international religious freedom conference. May it be the first of many similar steps in the future as we work together to bequeath a better, unified world for our children