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President Bush, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Discuss Role of Patriarchate in Advancing Understanding Among Religions Following September 11 Attacks

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Mar 5, 2002

Washington, D.C. – President George W. Bush and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew discussed the future role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in advancing communication and understanding between religions in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist strike, during a meeting in the Oval Office this afternoon.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide, headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey, is in the United States for a 6-day visit to Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City. He was accompanied to the White House by Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate: Archbishop Leo of Karelin and All Finland: Archbishop Gennadios of Italy; Metropolitan Apostolos of the Patriarchal Hierarchy; Michael Jaharis, Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council and Alex Spanos.

President Bush, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios had a 30-minute private meeting before being joined by the other members of the entourage.

Stressing the special role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in coordinating pan-Orthodox concerns worldwide, His All Holiness said at a press conference following the White House meeting, that he requested support in securing “freedom of action, so that the Ecumenical Patriarchate can fulfill its spiritual, religious and cultural mission.”

In that context, the Ecumenical Patriarch asked President Bush for American support in securing the reopening of the Theological School of Halki, which the Turkish government has shut down since 1971.

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