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Patriarchal Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of the Archbishop's Enthronement

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Sep 18, 2004

PATRIARCHAL LETTER OF ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW
TO HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS OF AMERICA
ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY
FROM THE ARCHBISHOP’S ENTHRONEMENT (SEPT. 18, 1999)

Most Reverend Archbishop Demetrios of America, most honorable Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, beloved brother and co-celebrant of our Modesty in the Holy Spirit; Grace be with Your Eminence and peace from God.

Most Reverend and beloved Brother, as we contemplate the notion of time, we are convinced every day of the undeniable truth of the words of the Prophet and King David the Psalmist, who said “A thousand years… are like yesterday which is past and as a watch in the night…” (Psalm 89/90, 4) The swiftness of the passage of time cannot be impeded by any natural force, and only the transformation of time within the Church into something liturgical bestows upon time an historic significance and permits us, who are finite beings, to behold the merest rays of the eternity into which the Lord has called us.

It is in this perspective that we view the work that has been done in the past five years by your beloved Reverence—a most significant ecclesiastical work—and we give glory to our Heavenly Father.

Having obeyed voluntarily/involuntarily, the dictating need of our Great Mother Church and having suddenly been drafted, you assumed the work of shepherding the Holy Archdiocese of America during days of difficulty and of uncertain future, bearing this burden on spiritual shoulders dedicated to the Lord from the times of your youth.

However, in deep humility and with an awareness of the importance of the ministry which was entrusted to you by the Church, you who up to that time you were the wise and peaceful theologian as well as a university professor with proficiency in many fields, accepted the pastoral responsibility of the largest ecclesiastical eparchy of our Most Holy Ecumenical Patriarchate. As you well know, various ecclesiastical circles had offered rather unfavorable predictions about the future of your ministry as the Archbishop. By the grace of God, however, and in absolute peace of soul, in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and through the mystic depths of humility, you unfurled every arched brow of skepticism and accomplished a most significant spiritual work in the New World, giving us the opportunity to rejoice and to boast in the Lord, glorifying Him for your most successful archiepiscopal ministry.

Of course, we are not unaware of the fact that everything human, by its very nature, comprises an element of incompleteness and admits the possibility of improvement; towards the Church, however, and towards God as one who is ‘with all his might a friend,” you have, in a godly manner, surpassed even this boundary in such a way that today the most sacred vessel of the Holy Archdiocese of America sails well and peacefully in oneness of spirit towards the fulfillment of its salvific and wondrous work.

For all these things, Most Reverend and deeply beloved brother in Christ, accept in return the highest expression of the well pleasing of the Great and Holy Mother Church of Christ, and ours personally, along with the fervent prayer that the Lord of the mystical vineyard fill with grace for many years, Your Beloved Reverence, healthy, prospering and rejoicing in the fruits of this laborious ministry with the absolute conviction that “your labor will not be in vain in the Lord.”

Therefore, we congratulate you from the depths of our soul and we pray for all the best from the Lord on this noteworthy occasion of the fifth anniversary of your Archiepiscopacy; and from the humble Phanar we embrace Your Reverence, who has manifested in good works such sincere honor and respectful love that is contained in the depths of your Christ-loving heart.

May the grace, the illumination, and the infinite mercies of our Great High Priest and Lord Jesus Christ be with Your Reverence.

Beloved brother in Christ

+ BARTHOLOMEW, Patriarch of Constantinople

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