FOR THE 34th BIENNIAL CLERGY-LAITY CONGRESS
OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
JULY 4-9, 1998
Your Eminence Archbishop Spyridon of America, Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, beloved brother and concelebrant in the Holy Spirit of our Modesty, and all participants of the 34th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Sacred Archdiocese of America, Grace and peace to you from God.
We paternally and affectionately salute the 34th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Sacred Archdiocese of America, which is gathered in order to discuss, apart from other current issues, the very timely and highly interesting theme: "One Faith, One Family, One Future: Together to the New Millennium"
Unfortunately in the contemporary era of individualism the unity in Christ, which is the final purpose of creation and which ought to be the primary aim of human activities, has been overlooked and, instead, all the peculiar characteristics of the individual are projected in an unprecedented attempt to distinguish each person from all other human beings. Thus, the peculiarities, which distinguish and even break up the unified personality of each human person, are projected as good in themselves, without a real appreciation of their objective value. Unity for us Orthodox Christians does not, of course, mean uniformity, or being turned into a herd. It rather means, spiritual harmony, concurrence of faith and love towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the unity in Christ is full and real, since all other types of unity based on other principles are unstable and fragile. Unity also means release and liberation from the desire for self-projection and vain egoistic distinction. Such antagonisms arising from this distinction are the main cause of personal clashes and disputes, which lead to schisms and divisions of any society, even the Church.
In this connection St. Paul wrote his timely admonition: "I, then, the prisoner in Christ, intercede to you, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called, with every humility and meekness, with long-suffering, tolerating each other in love, taking every care to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One Body and one Spirit, as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all of you" (Eph. 4:1-6).
So then, our unity in Christ is the fundamental presupposition of individual, spiritual, ecclesiastical and national progress. Our Lord’s words are well known: "every kingdom divided in itself is deserted; and every city which is divided in itself, will not stand" (Matth. 12:25). In addition, the ancient saying, "divide and rule", bears witness to the fact that even those who keep their distance from the Church acknowledge that divisions diminish the strength of the peoples, so that whoever succeeds in dividing them, can easily rule over them.
You the omogenia, who live in the United States of America, have realized in your life experience how the unity of the newly constituted American Nation contributed to its pioneering world leadership in most, if not all, areas. All this has been achieved in spite of the fact that the American Nation was constituted of immigrants from various backgrounds. This unity is the vigorous opposition to every thought of division emerging in the minds of some, because it exposes the damaging effect resulting from division. Consequently, those of us who love ourselves and our people and the Mother Church which has sustained us, are obliged to work with all our power to preserve the unity of our omogenia and Church. Thus, we shall prove that "strength lies in unity" and nothing is more beneficial than collaboration.
United indissolubly in the one faith of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ and constituting a great family in Christ with one soul and one heart, we shall create by the grace and with the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ our common future and shall lay down the foundations of an effective progress during the third Christian millennium of human history which is at hand.
We paternally pray that all this may become true to all participants in the 34th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Sacred Archdiocese of America and throughout the entire omogenia, on whom we confer our wholehearted paternal and patriarchal blessing and best wishes.
We finally note that at this great ecclesiastical Congress, the Mother Church and our own Person will be represented by His Eminence our brother Metropolitan Panteleemon of Tyroloi and Serention, an University Professor, who has been commissioned to transmit to you all, our beloved children, and to communicate orally the sacred feelings, love and affection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of our paternal heart which loves you all most deeply.
The grace of the Lord be with you all. Amen.
July 1, 1998
To the most noble Ladies Pauline Kallas O’Neil and Georgia Vlita and to all the ladies participating in the 34th biennial National Congress at Orlando Florida, USA, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, daughters of our Modesty in the Spirit, dearly beloved, grace and peace from God.
We rejoice in bestowing on you the requested blessings and best wishes of our Modesty and of the Holy Mother, the Great Church of Christ, for the successful outcome of the deliberations of your Congress and the outpouring on you of the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit from above. We pray that you draw the right conclusions in Christ and make the right philanthropic decisions; that you continue your good ministry and enjoy every personal happiness, health and many years, together with the dearly beloved members of your families and of our brothers and sisters who are supported by you in their sufferings.
We also congratulate you for the work you carry out in supporting the least of the brethren of the Lord, and call upon you the Lord’s grace and infinite mercy through the intercessions of His All-holy Mother and of all the Saints.
July 1, 1998