Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for Independence Day
Jun 27, 2005
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our annual celebration of American Independence on the Fourth of July is an opportunity for us to grow in our appreciation of the principles of democracy, liberty, and freedom for all humankind. We celebrate these principles as Greek Orthodox Christians who are blessed to call America our home. As inheritors of a proud Hellenic legacy, we have been indelibly influenced by the principle of democracy. As citizens and residents of America, our democratic worldview has been enhanced by our stalwart commitment to liberty and freedom. Throughout our history, we have learned firsthand of the necessity of these principles for promoting peace, civic prosperity, and authentic relationships with God and with others. For us then, July 4th is not only a day to celebrate with friends, families, and neighbors; it is also a day to reflect upon the significance of our cultural, national, and religious identity within American life.
Today, we acknowledge the significance of the Fourth of July as a community of Greek Orthodox Christians through prayer and service. We are moved to consider freedom and liberty as gifts from God that He has lovingly given to all persons, and as inalienable rights that He has endowed upon all men and women throughout our world. Our festivities on this day may therefore be viewed not only as occasions to participate in an important national observance, but also as opportunities to recognize God’s abiding presence in our lives and to comprehend the meaning of freedom in its ultimate sense, as expressed by St. Paul that "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17).
As we celebrate this historic and ever-significant Day of American Independence, let us continue to enshrine in our hearts the true meaning of liberty and freedom, both as responsible citizens and residents of our country and as faithful Greek Orthodox Christians. Let us also pray that the freedom we enjoy in this land may enable us to grow in our love for God and for others, and in our commitment to freedom for all humankind. May His perfect peace abide in your hearts always, and may His gift of freedom ring throughout our world.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America