MEETING OF ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW WITH PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
NEW YORK “ His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had a private meeting today with President Barack Obama. The meeting took place at the Conrad Hotel in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) at approximately 9:45 in the
morning. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, were present at the meeting.
The meeting and ensuing discussion were marked by a spirit of warm cordiality and mutual respect. The substance of the discussions included President Obama's mention of the issue of the Theological School of Halki in his speech before the Turkish Parliament, and his further discussion of the same
with the President of the Turkish Republic, Abdullah Gul. The President said that he would follow up on the issue with a view to a favorable solution for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made reference to the following points:
He made a convincing and passionate argument for the speedy re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, a basic need for the education and preparation of Clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He emphasized the importance of religious liberty and the guarantee of same for all minorities of Turkey.
He stated his well-known and long time support for the efforts of Turkey to join the European Union.
He noted the significance of efforts made on behalf of the environment, adding information on his own upcoming Ecological Symposium in the U.S.A. (Mississippi River) in October of 2009.
He thanked President Obama for this meeting and for his active interest in the pressing issues of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
His All Holiness mentioned that he had sent to the President, through the local U.S. General Counsel, an icon of the Prophet Baruch (patron of the President) with a handwritten inscription. He also congratulated the President for the
championship victory of the University of North Carolina's Basketball Team, which the President had chosen to win.
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