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Patriarch Bartholomeos visits hurricane-stricken New Orleans (ENI Release)

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Jan 11, 2006

Ecumenical News International / 9 January 2006
Patriarch Bartholomeos visits hurricane-stricken New Orleans

By Chris Herlinger

New York, 9 January (ENI)--Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, widely seen as the spiritual leader of the world's Eastern Orthodox Christians, has visited hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, declaring that the city will be rebuilt and will flourish once again.

"Damage will be restored. Life will blossom," the patriarch said during a 7 January visit to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans, which has the oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the Americas.

The visit by Bartholomeos to New Orleans was planned before Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city in August 2005, but given special urgency afterwards, the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper reported.

"Your pain was and is our pain. It was felt by all humanity," Bartholomeos said in his remarks during an ecumenical prayer service at the cathedral. The ceremony was also attended by local political figures, including the governor of the state of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, and the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.

The patriarch was in New Orleans as part of a 4-8 January visit to the United States during which he also spoke of his hope that Pope Benedict XVI would visit him at his headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2006.

"We are in very good relationships with the present Pope," Bartholomeos was reported saying at a press conference on 5 January.

During his stay in New Orleans, Bartholomeos visited parts of the city destroyed by the hurricane. In its report of the event, the Times-Picayune said the patriarch stopped near a vehicle that had flipped over on its top. Bartholomeos was heard to declare: "God protect us all."

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