Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the White House

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Nov. 4, 2009):

President Obama receives Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Oval Office

WASHINGTON – His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was received today at the White House in the Oval Office by President Barack Obama. This reciprocal visit to the one paid by President Obama earlier this year (April 7, when he made his first overseas visit to a Muslim country, Turkey) followed up on their conversations at that time on the subjects of the recently concluded environmental symposium on the Mississippi River and the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki.

“The President with his kindness and openness received me and my delegation with love and honor,” said His All Holiness to the Press as he was exiting the White House.

During the more than half an hour meeting, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew raised the subjects of climate change and commended the President for his initiatives, urging him for an even more intensive campaign on behalf of ecological responsibility. For his part, President Obama thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for his moral and ethical leadership for all the world’s faith communities in responding to environmental concerns. In particular, the President thanked His All Holiness for his recent environmental symposium on the Mississippi River and his opening address. They both shared their experiences of the Lower Ninth Ward and their concern for the redevelopment of this hard hit neighborhood of New Orleans.

President Obama stressed his appreciation for the unique role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the leader of the Orthodox Christian world, and the unique character of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an institution. He expressed to His All Holiness his commitment to the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, citing the advantage to Turkey itself that the full operation of Halki would bring.

At the close of their very substantive meeting, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew assured the President of his prayers for his healthcare initiatives for the sake of the poor and needy.

Present at the meeting of the President with His All Holiness were, from the White House: Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor; Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of European Affairs; Joshua DuBois, Director of Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Bridget Brink, Director for Aegean and South Caucasus; and accompanying the Ecumenical patriarch were: Archbishop Demetrios of America, Geron Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea and Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos.

Lecture at Georgetown and other events

Immediately after their meeting, His All Holiness, returning to the campus of Georgetown University, gave a major address entitled “A Changeless Faith for a Changing World.” The Center for American Progress, together with Georgetown University, sponsored the event.
(for the full text see

Tomorrow, His All Holiness will give another major address at the Brookings Institution entitled, “Saving the Soul of the Planet,” on environmental responsibility.

In the afternoon, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader will co-host His All Holiness at a luncheon in the Capitol. A private meeting with the Speaker Pelosi will follow the luncheon. In the evening, Vice President and Dr. Biden will host him at the Vice Presidential Residence for a private meeting and formal dinner.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, His All Holiness will meet with Secretary of State Clinton and that evening, she will host a dinner in honor of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has just concluded his Eighth Religion, Science and Environment Symposium in New Orleans, focusing on the Mississippi River. His Apostolic Visit to the United States has just concluded stops in New York and Atlanta, and continues in Washington D.C. until November 6.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Well, looks like I was wrong. I predicted that there would be no visit to the WH by the EP. I hope that this visit wasn’t part of some quid pro quo for the Turkish government. There seems to have been a lot of nice-talk by the EP on behalf of the Erdogan regimes wherever he went.

  2. Turkish Ambassador’s met 3 times with the EP. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the really important meetings on this trip took place when the EP had lunch with Ertugrul Apakan, Turkey’s Representative at the U.N., and then met twice (twice!) with Nabi Sensoy, Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S.

    I looked on the EP’s site, the Turkish Embassy site, and Turkey’s U.N. site. Nothing. No mention of the meetings, no mention of who said what to who.

    EP’s Apostolic Visit to the U.S.
    Turkish Embassy to the U.S.
    Permanent Mission of Turkey to the U.N.

    * Saturday, Oct 31st. Lunch with Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the U.N.
    * Monday, Nov 2nd. Met with Nabi Sensoy, Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S.
    * Tuesday, Nov 3rd. Lunch with Nabi Sensoy, Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S.

  3. George Michalopulos :

    hmmm….this worries me. Was there any meeting with the Greek ambassador or UN delegation?

    • John Couretas :


      Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos meets with UN chief Ban Ki-moon in New York, US

      New York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on a visit to the US, was received on Wednesday night (local time) in New York by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters, for talks that included environmental issues ahead of December’s international UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen.

      Bartholomew, who was accompanied by Archbishop Demetrios of America and Greece’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Anastasis Mitsialis, told reporters after the 20-minute meeting, said they discussed environmental issues in light of the Copenhagen conference, and that he briefed the UN chief on his own “environmental initiatives” and the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s “humble activities” regarding the “interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue”.

      The Ecumenical Patriarch said he had also made not to his three visits to Ban’s country of descent, Korea, and his previous visit to the UN during the tenure of secretary general Kofi Annan. He further briefed the UN chief on his upcoming visits to London next week for a conference on cooperation among religions and cultures being organised by Prince Charles, and afterwards to Athens, and noted that he will be in Copenhagen for the climate change conference.

      Bartholomew further said that he stressed to Ban that the SecGen was working for the unity of nations and cultures while the Ecumenical Patriarchate was contributing in that direction through the interfaith dialogue and the Patriarchate’s initiatives for environmental protection, “and consequently we can be considered collaborators in the same direction, for the good of humanity”.

    • If this doesn’t have Cloak & Dagger written all over it, I don’t know what does.

      Monday of last week the EP had dinner with the Greek Ambassador to the UN. Wednesday of last week the EP met with the UN Secretary General. On Saturday the EP met with the Turkish Ambassador to the UN. (International level note passing maybe?)

      In the next week things really started moving fast. On Monday the EP met first with the Turkish Ambassador to the US, and then had lunch with the Greek Ambassador to the US. On Tuesday the EP again met with Turkish Ambassador to the US (this time for lunch), and then met with the President.

      Talk about hiding in plain sight.

  4. George Michalopulos :

    I’m curious how the more traditionalist Orthodox (like ROCOR, monstics, etc.) feel about all this globalism.

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