October 19, 2021

Van Hollen, Meeks, McCaul Support Biden’s Plans to Welcome Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Today, Senator Chris Van Hollen joined Representatives Gregory W. Meeks and Michael McCaul in supporting President Biden’s plans to welcome His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew this month. The bipartisan letter was addressed to the President with 180 additional co-signers.

The letter can be found here and the text below:

Dear President Biden,

With our many constituents in the Orthodox Christian community across the country, we are looking forward to your welcome of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the last week of October, 2021. We are hopeful that this trip to Washington, DC will be met in the extraordinary manner and appropriate protocol with which you hosted him as Vice President in 2009. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch. As you know, an exceptional welcome is appropriate for the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian Church in the world and a person of his many valuable accomplishments.

We appreciate the fact that His All Holiness, a world-leading advocate for interfaith dialogue and peace, was the first to motivate Muslim leaders to condemn the 9/11 attack on America as an anti-religious act. We value his historic dialogue and prayer for peace with Pope Francis at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 2014. This brotherly gathering was with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Pope who are viewed as the brother-Apostles Andrew and Peter’s 269th and 265th direct successors, respectively. We know that Peter began his Church and ministry in Rome and Andrew began his in what is today Turkey, the locale of His All Holiness’ headquarters and Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We admire the high regard within which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is held as a preeminent international environmental leader, sometimes known as the “Green Patriarch.” We are pleased that his recognitions include our Congress’ highest honor – the Congressional Gold Medal – which we understand you helped secure in 1997.

This visit is an excellent opportunity for our Congress and your Executive Branch to follow in the Ecumenical Patriarch’s footsteps and demonstrate our mutual desire for the spirit of peace and cooperation. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.