Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated in and extended his greetings during the event titled “The Greek Language in Constantinople,” organized by the Consulate General of Greece. The event took place on Friday afternoon, February 9, 2024, at the Cultural Center of the Greek Diaspora, housed in the historic Galata Urban School building. The occasion marked the celebration of the World Day of the Greek Language.
In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch emphasized the significance and enduring contribution of the Greek language to global culture. He described it as “the mother tongue of the spirit,” highlighting its role in producing unparalleled works that have profoundly shaped humanity and influenced the course of history. “Among them, the New Testament stands out, ‘as if God chose the Greek language to announce His Gospel,’ as it has been said,” he pointed out.
The Ecumenical Patriarch then recalled the decisive contribution of the Church to the preservation of Greek linguistic identity.
“Schools have been established with the conviction that knowledge and Christian faith are at the core of our identity. We witness the Great School of the Nation daily at the Phanar, symbolizing the Church’s immense endeavor during challenging times. It underscores the belief that proficiency in the Greek language serves as a gateway to a rich culture, a spirit of freedom, and a distinctive way of life, thinking, and behaving. Today, the Ecumenical Patriarchate preserves this tradition as a defender of our linguistic identity.
In conclusion, the Ecumenical Patriarch emphasized the responsibility and struggle of those representing the Greek language as a mother tongue in Constantinople, particularly in light of the multi-faceted challenges posed by the shrinking population of the Greek Diaspora.
“No effort is a luxury when it comes to preserving the Greek language and culture in the birthplace of the Nation. One thing is absolutely certain: We have no choice but to preserve and cultivate our linguistic heritage; neglecting it would lead to a multitude of losses and a narrowing of our spiritual horizon. Many cultural struggles have been won here under extremely difficult conditions.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch and the large audience were welcomed by Ambassador Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece in Constantinople, who referred to the important work carried out in Diaspora schools, while also referring to the great interest shown by Turkish citizens in learning the Greek language.
Subsequently, Greek and Turkish professors, along with Turkish citizens who have learned the Greek language, delivered speeches on its relationship with culture, literature, and music. They also shared their experiences regarding the growing interest in learning Greek within modern Turkish society.
The event was accompanied by traditional songs of Asia Minor performed by the members of the choir of the publishing house “Istos”, which consists of Turkish citizens who are taught the Greek language, along with students of the Diaspora Schools.
Hierarchs of the Throne, clergy of the Patriarchal Court, Archons Offikalioi of the Great Church of Christ, Syriza MP Nina Kasimati, professors from Turkey and Greece, and several Turkish students studying the Greek language in Constantinople were in attendance.
Translated by Thanos Chrysanthopoulos