WASHINGTON – His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was received today at the White House in the Oval Office by President Barack Obama. This reciprocal visit to the one paid by President Obama earlier this year (April 7, when he made his first overseas visit to a Muslim country, Turkey) followed up on their conversations at that time on the subjects of the recently concluded environmental symposium on the Mississippi River and the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki.

“The President with his kindness and openness received me and my delegation with love and honor,” said His All Holiness to the Press as he was exiting the White House.

During the more than half an hour meeting, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew raised the subjects of climate change and commended the President for his initiatives, urging him for an even more intensive campaign on behalf of ecological responsibility. For his part, President Obama thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for his moral and ethical leadership for all the world’s faith communities in responding to environmental concerns. In particular, the President thanked His All Holiness for his recent environmental symposium on the Mississippi River and his opening address. They both shared their experiences of the Lower Ninth Ward and their concern for the redevelopment of this hard hit neighborhood of New Orleans.

President Obama stressed his appreciation for the unique role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the leader of the Orthodox Christian world, and the unique character of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an institution. He expressed to His All Holiness his commitment to the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, citing the advantage to Turkey itself that the full operation of Halki would bring.

At the close of their very substantive meeting, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew assured the President of his prayers for his healthcare initiatives for the sake of the poor and needy.

Present at the meeting of the President with His All Holiness were, from the White House: Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor; Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of European Affairs; Joshua DuBois, Director of Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Bridget Brink, Director for Aegean and South Caucasus; and accompanying the Ecumenical patriarch were: Archbishop Demetrios of America, Geron Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea and Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos.

Lecture at Georgetown and other events

Immediately after their meeting, His All Holiness, returning to the campus of Georgetown University, gave a major address entitled “A Changeless Faith for a Changing World.” The Center for American Progress, together with Georgetown University, sponsored the event. (for the full text see http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/georgetown_2009)

Tomorrow, His All Holiness will give another major address at the Brookings Institution entitled, “Saving the Soul of the Planet,” on environmental responsibility.

In the afternoon, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader will co-host His All Holiness at a luncheon in the Capitol. A private meeting with the Speaker Pelosi will follow the luncheon. In the evening, Vice President and Dr. Biden will host him at the Vice Presidential Residence for a private meeting and formal dinner.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, His All Holiness will meet with Secretary of State Clinton and that evening, she will host a dinner in honor of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has just concluded his Eighth Religion, Science and Environment Symposium in New Orleans, focusing on the Mississippi River. His Apostolic Visit to the United States has just concluded stops in New York and Atlanta, and continues in Washington D.C. until November 6.

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Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

"My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul." (Proverbs 3:21,22a ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Acts of charity, almsgiving and all the external good works do not suppress the arrogance of the heart; but noetic meditation, the labor of repentance, contrition and humility -- these humble the proud mind.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast