Archons Hold 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom: Protecting Religious Freedom, Democracy & Human Rights in Athens, Greece

ATHENS, GREECE – May 26 to May 29, 2024, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of America, Australia, Canada, and Europe held the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom: Protecting Religious Freedom, Democracy & Human Rights.

The Conference began with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America celebrating the Divine Liturgy at the historic Annunciation Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens, Greece. Following the Divine Liturgy, a 50-year anniversary Memorial Service commemorating the victims of the tragic Turkish invasion of Cyprus and all other martyrs who have lost their lives because of religious persecution.

On Sunday, May 26, 2024, a welcome reception was held at the Foreign Ministry to welcome participants of the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom in Athens, Greece. Remarks were offered by His Eminence and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Minister Kotsiras, Archon Athanasios Martinos, and Archon National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D.

The Conference officially opened at the Stoa of Attalos on Monday, May 27, 2024. The keynote speaker was John Chrysoulakis, Secretary General for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America's remarks he stated, "We live in times of great conflict and great perplexity. Christians of all stripes are tossed to and fro upon stormy and dark waters. And it is the Phanar, that light of pure Orthodox teaching and spirituality, that illumines the way forward for all Christians, into the safe harbors where peace is practiced instead of war, and love conquers every form of hatred and malice."

The first session of the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom was held at the National Historical Museum, the Old Parliament. The topic was Democracy, Authoritarianism and The Implications (Challenges and Opportunities) for Faith Communities Worldwide. The keynote speaker was Archbishop of Vilnius, Gintaras Grušas, President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), of the Roman Catholic Church in Vilnius, Lithuania with moderator Archon William J. Antholis, PhD. Later in the day, conference participants had the opportunity to participate in a private tour of the Acropolis Museum and a welcome dinner was held at the Acropolis Museum hosted by Mr. Athanasios Martinos and Mrs. Marina Martinos. In response to Ambassador George Tsunis', United States Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, remarks at the dinner, His Eminence praised his personal devotion to the sacred person of His All-Holiness and his mission of peace and statecraft for the sake of democracy and the world. "As an Archon of the Great Church, Ambassador Tsunis understands the complexities and conundrums that often face our Mother Church. He demonstrates that one does have to been born in the Πόλι, as I was, to be a true and authentic child of the Queen of Cities" His Eminence remarked.

On Tuesday, May 28, 2024 the second and third sessions of the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom took place. The second session focused on 'How is Freedom of Religion or Belief Related to Current Global Trends and Humanitarian Need'. The keynote speaker was Dr. Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The moderator was Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Boston College, Professor, International Studies Program; and The Atlantic Council, Eurasia Center, Non-Resident Senior Fellow.

The third session focused on 'Human Rights and Religious Freedom and Their Implications to the Geopolitical Order' with keynote speaker Hon. Michael R. Pompeo, 70th Secretary of State. Archon James Rockas served as the moderator. In the evening, a cocktail reception was held at the American School of Classical Studies. In his remarks at the reception, Archbishop Elpidophoros stated "We are grateful tonight for being received in these enlightened precincts, and we pledge to bring the light of Phanar throughout the world, to illumine the Church and our fellow human beings with the logos – the message of love, peace, forgiveness, mercy, and responsibility for God’s glorious creation that is the message of the See of Saint Andrew." George T. Orfanakos, Executive Director of The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, welcomed participants to the school, and a tour was later provided to see the Gennadius Library and lab.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2024, the first summit of global Archons was held at the historic Old Parliament in Athens, Greece. The summit coincided with the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom. The conference closes after a farewell dinner at the Old Parliament National Historical Museum.

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