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Message from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Mayor of Thessaloniki on the occasion of the city's role as the "Cultural Capital of Europe" for 1997

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Feb 5, 1997

For Immediate Release

New York--The following is a message from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Mayor of Thessaloniki on the occasion of the city's role as the "Cultural Capital of Europe" for 1997.

+BARTHOLOMEW

By the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.

To the most honorable Konstantinos Kosmopoulos, Mayor of Thessalonika and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Organization "Thessalonika: The Cultural Capital of Europe 1997", our Modesty's beloved son in the Lord: Grace and peace from God.

From the holy Great Church of Christ, the Mother Church, to the regional Church of the Thessalonians and all of you, with love and honor we embrace you and pray that through your every good word and deed the Most High God will grant you wisdom and hear your supplications.

Thanking you for the invitation which you so devoutly extended to us to preside over the opening festivities marking the renowned and historic city of Thessalonika as the Cultural Capital of Europe for the year of our Saviour 1997, we should like for Your Honor to know that, as we are impeded from personally participating due to prior obligations, we have charged His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Thessalonika to represent us and our most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne during these festivities.

Now, celebrating with you from afar, we are anticipating the joy when we shall be with you for the festivities scheduled for next September and meet, face to face, with all of you, the most honorable leaders and dear people of your city and country.

Furthermore, it is our conviction that the entire Orthodox world is with you today in spirit, congratulating you, and following in a variety of ways the events you have organized throughout the course of the year. During this time the bride of the Gulf of Thessalonika, rightly wearing her wreath of recognition and the esteem of the people of Europe, marches on with optimistic self-awareness in a community of peace and solidarity among all Europeans and neighboring peoples to usher in the Third Christian millennium and secure future.

We praise and paternally bless all those who have borne the toil of programming and bringing these events and works to fruition, and we exhort you: "Do not be weary in well-doing" (2 Thess. 3:13). At the same time we congratulate those who consented to the selection of this city as the Cultural Capital of Europe. We value this, above all, as a sign of sound European judgement, self-awareness and discernment. The pious bearers of our heritage always respect and properly esteem every people and place. This is why we ask, at a time when Europe is searching for her soul and future orientation, where else could she draw together her spiritual powers in a more intimate setting, than in this blessed place?

Is Europe looking for ways of asceticism and by ways toward light? Behold, the peaks of Olympus and the Holy Mountain, Athos. Is Europe looking for ways out of neo-idolatrous captivity? Behold, St. Paul, the Apostle to the Nations, points these out. Is she seeking lofty intellect amidst a variety of irrationalities? Behold, Aristotle of Macedon. Is he seeking a meeting and dialogue among cultures and the universal unity of humankind? Behold, Alexander the Great. Is she seeking the blessing and daring to enter the arena against the arrogance of Lyaeus? Behold, Dimitrios, the champion of this city; behold St. Nestor. Is Europe seeking the recuperation of her Eastern lung so as to breathe the breath of life into Western Europe that is also ailing? Behold, Sts. Cyril and Methodios, Equal to the Apostles. Is she seeking tranquillity amidst tumultuous anxiety and the vision of God amidst the blinding radiating lights of deception? Behold, St. Gregory Palamas and those who were with him then and those with him now.

Europe has humbly bowed before the wisdom and strength of the word of the Cross (1 Cor. 1: 18). Representative of Europe a man of Macedonia in his vision at Troas exclaimed the following saving verse: "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). "And the Apostle Paul and the people of Hellas were saved, as were the peoples of Europe and the whole world.

Retracting her bloodstained wings with excitement and anxiety, she is right to fix her gaze on the Thessalonika of universal Hellenism and the authenticated spiritual realities of Byzantium. The annual rotation of the Cultural Capital even further enlightens the diachronism of the creative presence and witness being borne through testimony.

Therefore, Your Honor Mr. Mayor and your chosen coworkers, continue the task you have begun with conviction, having as a complement the prayer of the Mother Church and our wholehearted Patriarchal blessing. Thus, "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5: 16-18). Amen.

At the Phanar, January 28, 1997

Your fervent supplicant before God,

The Ecumenical Patriarch
+Bartholomew of Constantinople

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