Protocol No.: 04/18
January 8, 2018
And if one member suffers, all members suffer with it;
or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
(1 Corinthians 12:26)
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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the grace and blessing of the Omnipotent God, we have entered the new calendar year 2018, which we celebrate rooted in our faith to Christ Who revealed Himself to us, a faith through which everything is possible and attainable, especially matters of justice, truth, peace and love.
As the Greek-American Orthodox community, we have been called by God and history to live and spread the incomparable and eternal wealth of our Orthodox faith and life as well as the universal and timeless values of Hellenism to the Western Hemisphere.
This we will try to accomplish with the help of God in the year that just began. We will strive in all areas and with all available and efficient means, always being mindful of the enormous problems and difficulties that torment the modern world.
In this effort, we do not forget that, among other serious problems, we also face three very troublesome issues pertaining to Orthodoxy and Hellenism, which remain unresolved, despite many and great efforts, and necessitate our unceasing prayers and our continuous and immediate action. These issues relate to our Ecumenical Patriarchate, Cyprus and the name of the so-called Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
First issue: Our Ecumenical Patriarchate is deprived of basic religious freedoms and this is of vital importance for our Mother Church and the continuation of the work She has been carrying out throughout the centuries. In this context, the Omogeneia in the U.S.A has fought, is fighting and will continue to fight for the re-opening of the Halki Theological School, for the recognition of the Ecumenical title and role of the Patriarchate and of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the legal status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for the right to ownership, and in general for the unfettered practice of religious beliefs and duties of Orthodox Christians in Turkey. The Order of St. Andrew – the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, leads the way in this direction.
Second issue: The martyric island of Cyprus, a place of saints and martyrs of our Church and the Republic of Cyprus, is being deprived of more than one third of its land since 1974, following the invasion of the Turkish army. This invasion resulted in thousands of people being killed, hundreds of thousands missing or becoming refugees, and the desecration of churches, monuments and cemeteries. The arduous efforts of many years toward a fair solution have not yet yielded fruits, but keep the subject open. Our Omogeneia, the Greek Orthodox community and the Holy Archdiocese have been leading the way for the last 44 years in this righteous struggle and will certainly continue until its final vindication.
Third issue: In 1991, the southern province of what was then Yugoslavia, called Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, seceded and declared its independence under the name “Republic of Macedonia.” In doing so, it arbitrarily usurped the historic name “Macedonia” which is a Greek word and refers to the historic kingdom and civilization of ancient Macedonians under Kings Philip and Alexander the Great, as an indisputable part of the Greek nation and the Hellenic historic and cultural heritage. A movement that began in 1992 continues to this day, both in Greece and within the Greek Omogeneia worldwide. Here in America, our Omogeneia, Hellenic societies and organizations, with the Pan-Macedonian Association in the lead, continue day and night the sacred undertaking regarding the name of FYROM, especially now that there is renewed mobilization with respect to finding a mutually acceptable name that shall respect the history, the geography and the ethnological truth.
In the New Year, with the illumination and guidance of the Righteous God and the invincible power of the Faith, we are called to intensify our prayers and efforts in every direction for the success, progress and resolution of all these three issues, for they are related to justice, truth, peace and love.
With paternal wishes in the Incarnate Christ,
Archbishop of America