The US Ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, spoke warmly about the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Speaking at the conference held by the Foreign Affairs International Conference on Religious Diplomacy, Geoffrey Pyatt spoke of the long-standing relationship —”almost two centuries”— between the two countries, a relationship which “the Greek Orthodox Church continues to reinforce.”
He added that as strategic partners, Greece and the United States worked together to meet the challenge that Russia posed “to our democratic values and specifically to the freedom of religious expression here in Europe.”
“Not only does Russia challenge the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, but it has continued seeking to break the unity of the Orthodox Church by fomenting instability and undermining the sovereignty of independent Orthodox-majority nations,” said the US ambassador.
“We commend the Church of Greece and Archbishop Ieronymos for bravely supporting the Ecumenical Patriarch’s decision, and we hope that over time, other Orthodox churches will follow this lead in accordance with canon law,” stressed the US ambassador.
He added that the Russian Orthodox Church attempted to punish Greece by instructing Russian Orthodox tourists not to visit Greek dioceses that had supported the decision to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The US ambassador to Athens also stressed that the US government was a strong supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarch, “the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world.”
He highlighted the recent visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Ecumenical Patriarchate where they reaffirmed their common vision to support religious freedom around the world, whether in Turkey or in Ukraine, and underlined that US support for the Ecumenical Patriarch would remain strong under President-elect Biden.
He also referred to Archbishop Elpidophoros, stressing that he “has also shown great leadership and compassion” in his response to the pandemic, “he has helped Americans in our journey to perfect our democracy by standing in solidarity for a more just and equal society.”
He added that in his first year and a half as Archbishop of America, Archbishop Elpidophoros had done much to deepen the already strong people-to-people ties between our countries.