Address by Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi during the visit of Archbishop Justin to Halki

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Your Grace Archbishop Justin of Canterbury,

It is with great spiritual joy and delight that we welcome Your Grace into the court of the Holy Trinity Monastery of Halki, a holy and sacred monastery since its founding in the 9th century by monks from the Holy Mount Auxentios, and later by its re-founder the Ecumenical Patriarch St. Photios, up until today.

We welcome you to a monastery that constitutes an extension of the Patriarchal Court of the Phanar. Here, each Ecumenical Patriarch has had his chambers, where he has come to seek calm and rest from the many labors of the difficult Patriarchal service and to be alone with God in this holy sanctuary. Great important figures of our Orthodox Church have lived here, among whom was St. Theodore the Studite, who was exiled during the iconoclast controversy.

The Holy Theological School of our Patriarchate, established in 1844 by Ecumenical Patriarch Germanos IV, is housed inside this monastery. It is the pride of our Holy Mother Church of Christ and of its pious people. Our All-Holy Patriarch labors night and day for the reopening of the School, which was unjustly closed in 1971, so that it may once again offer worthy and qualified clergy and theologians for Orthodoxy in the whole world. Our Patriarch studied here and, together with others, inherited a spirit of love and cooperation towards the heterodox, which he has successfully put into practice from early on, but especially as Ecumenical Patriarch, thus just perceiving the characterization as Patriarch of dialogue and reconciliation.

Examples of intolerance among the Christian confessions are known to all of us from both the recent and distant past, and have darkened the lives of many, including those of the Ecumenical Patriarchs, for example Patriarch Cyril Lucaris and others. We thank God that in our day these policies, which are entirely foreign to the spirit of the Holy Gospel, are not carried out, and that we conduct dialogue in love with one another, despite the very real and significant dogmatic differences between us. Let us therefore remember, along with other things, the saying of St. Nektarios of Pentapolis: “love is above all doctrines.”

There are old ties that bind us to the Anglican Church. Your immediate predecessor, Archbishop Rowan Williams, as in times his representatives have also visited this sanctuary and you are also following in their footsteps concerning this most important issue, which is the reason for your blessed visit here. In the past, when this School was open, we enjoyed an exchange of students which cultivated the promotion and closeness of our Churches’ relations.  We wholeheartedly wish you strength and prosperity from the Lord in your new position of service to the Anglican Church. As we say in Greek: Ὡς εὖ παρέστητε, which means “it is good that you have come.”