Greek Prime Minister received Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at his Maximos Mansion office on Monday afternoon, as the primus inter pares of the world’s Christian Orthodox primates arrived in Greece over the weekend for a pastoral visit.
Bartholomew’s visit comes after a particularly high-profile series of visits and meetings in the United States over the past month, and also coincides with the 30-year anniversary of his assumption of the ecclesiastical throne of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In greeting the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Mitsotakis recounted his visit to the northeast Aegean Island of Imvros and the warm welcome he received at the time by the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is a native of the island. The specific isle was exclusively inhabited by ethnic Greeks for millennia before being awarded to Turkey with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, and as a result only a tiny community of the once thriving Hellenic and Christian presence remains.
In reply, Bartholomew said he anticipates the occasion to again receive Mitsotakis on Imvros in his current status as Greece’s prime minister.
While “first among equals” of the world’s Orthodox patriarchs, the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch is particularly respected by the Greek Orthodox faithful, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate also having ecclesiastical jurisdiction in some areas of Greece.
In a nod to this lineage, Bartholomew noted that “…I strive to do what is best for the Church and out race; always with the assistance of the Greek government, the Church of Greece and all of the world’s Orthodox brothers, who respect and honor our Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
The issue of the continuing refusal of Turkish authorities to allow the reopening of the Halki School of Theology, the Patriarchate’s primary seminary, was discussed extensively during the meeting.