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THE AMBASSADOR OF SLOVAKIA TO THE STATE OF ISRAEL & THE PRESIDENT OF ITS SUPREME COURT AT THE PATRIARCHATE.

On Monday the 10th / 23d of August 2010, the Ambassador of Slovakia to Israel His Excellency Dr. Ivo Hlavacek and the President of the Slovakian Supreme Court The Honourable Mr. Stefan Harabin were received by His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III at the Patriarchate.

Welcoming them, His Beatitude elaborated to the honourable guests on the work performed by the Patriarchate and its mission in the Holy Land from its conception in the early era of the Judeo–Christian Community of Jerusalem until the present day.

The President of the Supreme Court expressed his feelings of gratitude for the reception at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is lauded for its considerably important pastoral work and long history.

On the occasion of this visit, the President of the Supreme Court offered  His Beatitude a seal, a symbol of human justice, and His Beatitude offered  the President the book by Mr. Votokopoulos on the illustrated manuscripts of the Central Library of the Patriarchate and memorabilia of the Sacred Shrines.

After the visit at the Patriarchate the honourable visitors venerated the Holy Sepulchre at the Church of Ressurection.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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THE GEORGIAN MINISTER MR. RAMAZ NIKOLAISHVILI AT THE PATRIARCHATE.

On the evening of the feast of the Transfiguration, 6th / 19th of August 2010 ,and upon his return from the celebration of the feast on Mount Tabor,  His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III received the Minister of Regional Development & Infrastructure of Georgia His Excellency Mr. Ramaz Nikolaishvili at the Patriarchate along with the members of his escort and members of the Israeli Police of Jerusalem.

The Minister Explained to His Beatitude that since he had visited Him two years ago the relations between the Church and the State of Georgia have been advanced to the best degree possible.

In response His Beatitude said that the Patriarchate has always maintained close ties with Georgia as well as properties, Churches and Glebes in that country;  furthermore, nowadays, the Patriarchate finds itself in the pleasant position to regularly receive  Georgian pious worshippers that venerate the Holy Shrines.

The Minister thanked His Beatitude for the reception and presented  Him with gifts, souvenirs from the cultural treasures of Georgia which were retrieved from the storm of atheism.  His Beatitude presented  the Minister and his escorts with a descriptive book about the illustrated manuscripts of the Patriarchate’s Central Library, medals of the Patriarchate representing the 2000 years of Christianity and pectoral gold crosses.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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THE PRIME MINISTER OF REPUBLIKA SRPSKA MR. MILORAD DODIK AT THE PATRIARCHATE.

On Monday the 3d / 16th of August 2010 the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska His Excellency Mr. Milorad Dodik, accompanied by the Diplomatic Representative of the Republic to the State of Israel  and by representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was received by His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

Within the framework of this visit, the Prime Minister addressed His Beatitude as follows: «I am pleased that I am visiting, for the second time, the Holy Places.  I convey to You the respects of the Bishops, the priests and of the devout people of Republika Srpska.  I reminisce about my visit as the representative of Srpska for the celebration of the 2000 years of Christianity by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, when I was also decorated by Your Predecessor the late Patriarch of Jerusalem Diodoros.

The majority of the people of Srpska are Orthodox Christians who foster feelings of respect and high esteemfor the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  Republika Srpska is an autonomous state within the state of Serbia».

Welcoming the Prime Minister, His Beatitudereplied: «we follow the effected changes as well as the ones taking place in the Republic of Serbia (Republika Srbija) and Republika Srpska.  We wish that religion, namely the Christian Orthodox Religion, will play its unifying role for the Serbian people.  We have full confidence only in God.  We rest our hopes in God and the Orthodox Church.  We, the Orthodox, believe and contemplate the Resurrection through the prism of the Holy Cross».

The Prime Minister presented  His Beatitude with a painting depicting Banja Luka, the capital of Srpska.

His Beatitude offered  the Prime Minister a commemorative medal representing the 2000 years of Christianity, a book about the illustrated manuscripts of the Central Library of the Patriarchate and an icon of the of the Holy Sepulchre.

After  visiting  the Patriarchate, His Excellency the Prime Minister, along with his entourage, visited, in order to venerate, the Church of Resurrection.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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A GROUP OF AFRICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS AT THE PATRIARCHATE.

On Tuesday 21st of July / 3d of August 2010, a group of African Religious Leaders, Christian and Muslim, led by Rabbi Dr. David Rozen, visited the Patriarchate.  Coming from 6 African countries and numbering around 15 persons, they were received by His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.  They were invited by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American Jewish Committee as religious leaders of Muslim and Christian Communities in Africa, for the purpose of exploring possibilities for a more in depth dialogue and closer religious cooperation with the Middle East, all for the benefit of the peace process which currently remains at an impasse.

His Beatitude spoke to them about the existence and the work of the Patriarchate from the beginning of Christianity and of the Patriarchate’s relationship with Islam from 638 AD when the Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronios surrendered Jerusalem to Omar Hatamb.

«The role of the Patriarchate», explained His Beatitude, «is to contribute to the pacification and the conciliation of people, amongst which the Patriarchate lives, moves and acts.  The political solution to the problem of Jerusalem requires the religious solution”

At the conclusion of the visit, His Beatitude presented them with the book by Mr. Votokopoulos on the illustrated manuscripts of the Library of the Patriarchate, a medal of the Patriarchate issued on the occasion of the two millennia of Christianity, and the photo-album of Mrs. Gali Tibbon on the Church of Resurrection and on the Orthodox ceremonies taking place therein as the navel of the Earth.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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A TEAM OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS VISIT THE PATRIARCHATE.

On Tuesday 14th / 27th of July 2010, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III received at the Patriarchate Rabbi Dr. David Rozen with a team of scientists of various disciplines, Christians and Jews. The visit’s purpose was to accomplish a constructive discussion on religious, social, political, and other topics of the region of the Middle East as well as other regions.  Rabbi Dr. David Rozen is well known amongst the Christian circles for his broad knowledge, erudition and for his active participation in and contribution to the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity as well as between Orthodoxy and Judaism under the aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Rabbi Dr. David Rozen commended His Beatitude for His active participation in the inter-religious dialogue, His pacifying role in the Middle East peace process and for the time He has devoted to this.

During the discussion, His Beatitude explained to the members of the visiting group the position and the efforts of the Patriarchate in the Holy Land and the Holy Shrines, from the very beginning during the early Christian times and also during the Byzantine times when the great Churches were built, namely the Church of the Resurrection and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the great historical Monasteries of the desert.

«This period» His Beatitude clarified «ended with the surrender of Jerusalem, in 638 AD, to the Muslim Caliph Omar Hatamb by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronios, who, at that time, assumed the role of the Ethnarch.  Upon the signed agreement at that time- Achtiname, the relations were founded between the Patriarchate and Islam, during the era of the Arab and Turkish rule».

« In accordance with this agreement, the Patriarchate protects the shrines, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.  The Patriarchate has spiritual wealth, that is to say its religious and cultural heritage, but also tangible wealth such as residences and other land holdings for the maintenance of its flock and for the support of its institutions».

«The relations between the Patriarchate and Judaism are both close and deep in the context of the relationship between the two Testaments, Old and New, but also the liturgical life of the Church.  The prophecies and the psalms are recited during the ceremonies of our Church along with the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament and the ecclesiastical hymns».

Replying to a pertinent question His Beatitude explained that the Patriarchate, from its revenues and from the donations of charitable Societies, Non Governmental Organizations and pious worshipers, maintains and preserves the Holy Shrines, establishes and runs schools and philanthropic foundations, and takes an active role in resolving problems that arise due to the political tension.

With respect to the political problem of Jerusalem and the Middle East, His Beatitude replied that the Patriarchate maintains that Jerusalem should be an open city with free access for all followers of all religions to their Holy Places.  Furthermore, His Beatitude elaborated that the Patriarchate, along with the other Churches, actively and religiously participates in the advancement of the peace process.

«If the above is not achieved» stated His Beatitude, «that is, the reciprocal mutual acceptance of both nations also on a religious basis, then no political solution will be viable.  The Patriarchate and the other Christian Churches of the Holy Land contribute towards the advancement of peace to prevail, mainly through the work of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.  Due to this contribution, the Patriarchate is visited by diplomats, representatives of states, peace missions and political figures, such as the former President of the USA, Mr. Jimmy Carter, a year ago».

«If no regard is paid to the religious parameters particular to Jerusalem, then no political solution will either be achieved or founded in a viable manner.  The Patriarchate follows with commiseration the consequences of the political tension and participates in the suffering of its victims with prayer, dialogue and endeavours of peaceful existence and with the propagation of a message of apology, love, forgiveness, conciliation, and peace».

At the conclusion of this meeting, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III presented each one of the members of the aforementioned group with the book by Mr. Votokopoulos on the illustrated manuscripts of the Central Library of the Patriarchate.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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INAUGURATION OF THE RENOVATED ISRAEL MUSEUM IN JERUSALEM.

The Israel Museum is situated in West Jerusalem near the Church of the Holy Cross of the Patriarchate and close to the Knesset of the State of Israel and near the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  This Museum was created and has been operating since 1965 with the inspiration of the Mayor of Jerusalem at that time, Teddy Kolek and through his collaboration with many representatives of successive Israeli Governments and of the Jewish society.  Alfred Mansfield & Dora Gad were the architects of the Museum.

During the last three years, through the rigorous efforts and actions of the Director of the Museum for 13 years, Mr. James Snyder and of the Architects ‘Caprenter’s & Efrat Kowalsky’, it has been renovated with regard to the structural and building elements of its three wings, the halls and the manner of arranging and exhibiting its artifacts, with the purpose of better achieving its educational aims.  The cost of these works amounted to one hundred million (100,000,000) US dollars.

This indeed ambitious, multifaceted and noteworthy project was accomplished during the planned short duration of three years and included exterior structural alterations, reconstructions and addenda which preserved the blending of the building with the natural surroundings of the valley and hillside of the Church of the Holy Cross (Minzar Ha-Matzlevah).  With these construction works, the surface area of the Museum floor-space was increased from 100,000 square metres to 200,000 m².

The occasion of the renovation was celebrated with an inauguration ceremony which took place on Sunday, the 12th / 25th of July 2010 in an open area of the museum constructed in an amphitheatre design.

On behalf of the Patriarchate, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III and the Elder Chief Secretary of the Patriarchate His Eminence Aristarchos Archbishop of Constantina were invited to attend the ceremony.

Honouring the ceremony with their presence were the Prime Minister of the State of Israel Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, the President of the State His Excellency Mr. Shimon Peres, the Minister of Welfare & Social Services of Israel Mr. Isaac Herzog, and other Ministers, the Mayor of Jerusalem Mr. Nir Barkat, highest ranking government and academic representatives, Ambassadors and Consuls of States to the State of Israel, all in the midst of a dense public.

This audience was addressed by the Director of the Museum Mr. James Snyder, the President of the State of Israel His Excellency Mr. Shimon Peres, the Prime Minister His Excellency Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Mayor of Jerusalem Mr. Nir Barkat.

In his address, the Director of the Museum Mr. Snyder thanked all those who contributed to the renovation project, the government representatives, the architects ‘Carpenter’s & Efrat Kowalsky’, the personnel and, the sponsors, many of whom were present.  The other speakers, the Prime Minister and the President, emphasized the tenacity and the dynamic spirit of Mr. Snyder and the precision and professionalism of the work accomplished by him.

After the conclusion of the inauguration ceremony, members of the audience were invited, if they so wished, to take part in a guided tour of the Museum halls with their new arrangement of floor-space and the artifacts exhibit.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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THE UKRANIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM.

On Wednesday the 9th / 22nd of July 2010, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine His Excellency Mr. Kostyantyn Gryshchenko  visited the Patriarchate of Jerusalem accompanied by the Ambassador of Ukraine to the State of Israel His Excellency Mr. Hennadii Nadolenko. His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III addressed the honourable guests as follows:

“We welcome you with joy, Your Excellency, at our Patriarchate.  As you know, the Patriarchate has and performs a significant role at the Holy Shrines and in the peace process in the Holy Land.  The history of the Patriarchate is the history of the Holy Land.  The Patriarchate maintains close ties with, initially, Judaism and since the 7th century with Islam.  The role of the Patriarchate is instrumental in the shaping of the status quo of Jerusalem.  The Patriarchate has preserved and sustained the Holy Places-Holy Shrines whilst maintaining a close relationship with Ukraine which has a rich cultural heritage”.

Replying His Excellency Mr.Hryshenko said:

“It is true that we are aware of the role of the Patriarchate in the Holy Land and the efforts the Patriarchate is putting forth for the unity of the people in the Ukraine and the opinions that you have expressed on this”.

His Beatitude presented His Excellency with an icon of the Holy Sepulchre and the book by Mr. Vokotopoulos on the manuscripts of the Patriarchate Library. His Excellency then reciprocated by presenting His Beatitude with a depiction of the Parliament of Ukraine and a book on the cultural treasures of Ukraine.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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THE PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE HIS EXCELLENCY MR. GEORGE PAPANDREOU VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

Within the framework of his two day visit to the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Prime Minister of Greece, His Excellency Mr. George Papandreou, visited the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Wednesday, the 8th / 21st of July 2010, around 7:00 pm.

The Prime Minister was received at David’s Gate, by the Elder Chief Secretary of the Patriarchate His Eminence Aristarchos Archbishop of Constantina and by the coordinator of Ceremonies Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Porfyrios.

Thence, approaching the Patriarchate, he was shown around the grounds of the Christian neighborhood of the Patriarchate surroundings and of the Greek Community.  At the junction of the streets of the School of Saint Demetrios and of the Patriarchate, and below his house, the physician Mr. John Tlyle, one of the elders of the Greek Community, received him and presented him with his book entitled “I am Jerusalem”.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by Mr. Demitrios Droutsas, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Petalotis, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Government Spokesperson, Mr. Yiannis Zeppos Ambassador and Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with members of his political entourage and by the Ambassador of Greece to Israel His Excellency Mr. Kyriakos Loukakis, the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem His Excellency Mr. Sotirios Athanasiou and a number of Greek and international journalists.  The Prime Minister was received and welcomed with honour and acclaim by the Archbishops members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, Priests and monks of the Patriarchate and members of the Greek Community at the entrance of the Central Monastery, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Prime Minister was then greeted by His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III at the entrance of the Throne Hall.

Following the Greeting, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed His Excellency the Prime Minister of Greece as follows:

“Your Excellency Prime Minister,

The eminent Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre today receives and welcomes Your Excellency and distinguished escorts at the august Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with abundant joy. Your peaceful and mediating visit to this region of the Holy Land, which exhibits a political and religious turmoil and where the three Monotheistic religions namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam coexist is of important significance.

It entails particular significance, both for our Patriarchate, which embodies the holy and secular history of Jerusalem diachronically, a history which is connected with the multicultural amplitude of Romiosini and thus, with the history of the Christians in Palestine,  Jordan, and of course Israel, and moreover for our venerable genus and nation which said nation constitutes the moral and material patron and, even more so, the natural guarantor of the inalienable and ab antiquo vested privileges and sovereign rights on the Holy  Shrines with a worldwide character.

The religious and spiritual mission of the Rum Orthodox (Greek Orthodox) Patriarchate, based on the holy scriptures and evangelical commandments: “love thy neighbour as yourself”, (Mathew 19, 19), as well as “love thy enemies . . . you are rightly doing so to your enemies”, (Mathew 5, 44), this  constitutes a vehicle of respect towards the each person and on the other hand provides us with a place of peaceful coexistence and  conciliation among the followers of other religions and dogmas.

We say this now more than  ever before, that the Patriarchate today emerges as a natural and moral institutional factor, one which can contribute towards the solution of the theocratic or the religious Gordian knot that pertains to the diplomatic and political status quo of the future of Jerusalem (it is understood of the Old City of Jerusalem).

This is attested by the fact of the local and international recognition of the standing of the Patriarchate via its participation, not only in interreligious and interchristian dialogues but also, in international political – social conferences.

Your Excellency, Prime Minister,

Being grateful for your genuine interest in the Holy Places and in the Palestinian people as affirmed by the respected Greek Government and You personally, we ask you to accept the wishes of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre and Our Patriarchal blessings towards the success of Your peace mission to the region.

Furthermore, please accept this decoration of the Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre, as an expression of our deep appreciation towards your person and support to the governance and the  financial-political task that you are undertaking with such patience and determination.

Thank you”

Following the address, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, decorated His Excellency Mr. George Papandreou the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic with the Order of the Grand Cross of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre along with the golden necklace as a sign of recognition and accolade for his services to the Hellenic Republic, the nation and to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Visibly moved, His Excellency the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. George Papandreou responded with the following:

“Your Beatitude, it is for me and for the whole of Christianity an exceptional honour to have bestowed upon me this highest medal, that of the Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre, and I will carry this cross with the utmost honour and respect, as a symbol of the unbreakable bond between Greece, Fatherland of the Greek People and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Holy Places.  I thank you especially for this honour, which will remain unforgettable for me”.

In addition, His Beatitude offered the Prime Minister an icon of the Nativity, done on the occasion of the celebration of the 2000 years of Christianity.  The Prime Minister reciprocated by presenting His Beatitude a round silver plate with the depicting the 12 Apostles.

Subsequently His Excellency the Prime Minister signed the visitors book and venerated at the Chapel of Sacred Pentecost adjacent to the Throne Hall.

Following this, His Beatitude and His Excellency, accompanied by members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, descended to the Church of Resurrection where they venerated the Stone of Anointing, the Life Giving Tomb of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-the Holy Sepulchre, and then proceeded to the Catholicon of the Church, venerated the Holy Calvary and the Holy Cross which is located at the Office of the Church of Resurrection.

From the Church of Resurrection the Prime Minister departed in order to carry out his peace mission to the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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THE NGO ‘ROMIOSINI’ TO THE HOLY PLACES AND THE PATRIARCHATE.

On Friday 26th of June / 9th of July 2010, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III received a group of around 50 pilgrims who had come to venerate the Holy Places within the framework of a pilgrimage embarked upon by the Non Governmental Organization ‘Romiosini’ the purpose of which was the support and promotion of the Holy Shrines and their preservation by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

This pilgrimage included Egypt, the pyramids and the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai and, in the north and the south of the Holy Land, all the Holy Shrines including, primarily, the Church of Resurrection and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III addressed the members of ‘Romiosini’ elaborating on the work done by the Patriarchate and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepuchre in guarding and preserving the Holy Places of Christianity in the Holy Land. His Beatitude then presented them with souvenirs of the Holy Places praising them for their endeavours and unwavering support given to the august Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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DR. HANNA AISSA DECORATED BY THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM.

On Wednesday 10th – 23rd of June 2010, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III decorated Dr. Aissa Hanna, member of the Arab-speaking Orthodox flock of our Patriarchate. Dr. Hanna is employed at the Palestinian Authority’s Presidential Office serving by the President Mahmud Abbas Abu Mazen and the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

His Beatitude decorated Dr. Aissa Hanna with the order of the Orthodox ‘Cross-Bearer of the Holy Sepulchre’.

His Beatitude received Dr. Hanna at the Patriarchate noting “that the Patriarchate is regarded as Dr. Hanna’s home and of all Palestinians, Christian and Muslim. We cordially welcome Dr. Hanna to the Patriarchate and to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

We praise him for his numerous years of ethical and substantive interest in favour of the Patriarchate’s Communities. We hereby decorate Dr. Aissa Hanna with the order of the ‘Cross Bearer of the Holy Sepulchre”.

Dr. Hanna with deep emotion expressed his gratitude and promised to His Beatitude that he will dedicate all his powers in serving the Church and Country.

Chief Secretary’s Office.

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