The Church of Crete is the “spiritual flagship” of the Ecumenical Throne in the Mediterranean, said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Sunday of Thomas.
After the Divine Liturgy presided by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra and prayerfully attended in the altar by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew referred with warm words to the close ties of the Mother Church of Constantinople with the Church of Crete.
The Ecumenical Patriarch warmly welcomed the students from the 12th Gymnasium of Heraklion, Crete, while he noted that “the bonds between Crete and the Phanar are sacred, everlasting, and unbreakable.”
“I often say that Crete is the spiritual flagship in the Mediterranean,” said the Patriarch. While he referred to his longstanding friendship with Archbishop of Crete Irenaeus, since their schooldays in Halki seminary, he recalled that the Halki seminary, “awaits its reopening for almost half a century, which was closed down unfairly and arbitrarily by the Turkish authorities.”
“We who had the blessing and the privilege of studying in Halki cannot forget the experiences we acquired when we were students during these years. All those friendships we had continue for a whole life since we are serving the Great Church of Christ, our Patriarchate, each one of his own office. All of us who had the special blessing of being students and not only learning but also experiencing the Halki ethos, we anxiously await the reopening our School, and this will happen when the authorities close to us keep the promises they made, that this anticipated fact will not be delayed for much longer.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch noted that Crete is a spiritual seedbed of well-qualified clergy, many of whom are called upon by the Mother Church to minister to its eparchies around the world, such as the recently elected Metropolitan Myron of New Zealand.