REMARKS AND TOAST
OF HIS ALL HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
B A R T H O L O M E W
At the Dinner in Honor of the Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The 47th Vice President of the United States of America
Hosted by Libra Group
The King George Hotel
(June 6, 2017)
* * *
Vice President Biden (and Dr. Biden), beloved friend(s),
[Prime Minister Tsipras]
Beloved members of the Logothetis Family,
Honored guests and friends,
Beloved spiritual children in the Lord,
With deep appreciation to the Logothetis family, who are devout and most honorable exemplars of our Greek Orthodox heritage, and with particular thanks to Libra Group and the Concordia Europe Summit, we express our true spiritual delight and joy to be here – in the cradle of Democracy – with one of the great Democrats of our time, our most beloved and esteemed friend Joseph Biden (and his exceptional wife, Dr. Jill Biden). Perhaps I should have said “Bidenopoulos”, as your time in Greece will only serve to strengthen and indeed intensify your well-known love for freedom, democratic rule of law, and the glorious aesthetic of Hellas – all of which shone forth from this glorious land of Greece, and to which you have aspired through a lifetime of most laudable public service to the blessed American People and to the world.
We recall with great fondness our time together at the Naval Observatory and the historic Vice Presidential residence eight years ago, where you hosted our humble person, and where we commenced in earnest a tried and true spiritual friendship. Mr. Vice President, how fitting it is that we should gather here with such friends as these before us, beneath the grandeur of the Acropolis, the “city on the hill” that has inspired freedom-loving men and women through the ages.
Moreover, how fitting indeed is it that we gather on this day, June 6th – the 73rd anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the liberation of Europe. All of us, Mr. Vice President, feel the profound sacrifice for freedom embodied by that day, a day that stands within both our lifetimes. As we dine this evening in the glow of the Parthenon, we recall with love and deepest respect that “last full measure of devotion” (Gettysburg Address) given to all humankind.
This is why we find it very auspicious that we are gathered together on the eve of the Concordia Europe Summit. This summit, an “in-gathering” of inspired thinking about the challenges facing Europe and the world, is a necessary and vital exercise if we are to remain worthy of the freedoms we enjoy at the expense of the sacrifice of so many. We commend the Logothetis family for their commitment to the ever-increasing search for mutual understanding and solutions to the critical problems of our era.
For over twenty-five years, our Patriarchal ministry on behalf of the world has stressed the need for environmental responsibility and positive action to reverse the dangerous and reckless industrial practices that have harmed our shared planet. Always advocating sustainability and justice, this ministry reaches every corner of our world, and especially to those human persons who find themselves displaced as refugees. We shall say more about this tomorrow at the Summit. However, dear friends, even with the recent news out of America vis-à-vis the Paris accords, it remains indisputable that climate change is real, and we will continue to teach and to preach that sin against the creation is tantamount to sin against the Creator of us all.
But now, let us enjoy the fellowship of this moment. Mr. Vice President, we convey to you, to Dr. Biden and to your family, our Patriarchal blessings and benediction; that the Lord of all may always keep you in His loving care, and grant you His compassion and infinite mercy. And we extend to all of our friends dining with us here this evening these same blessings.
We lift up our glass in your honor and in thanksgiving for your lifetime of service. And we wish long life, happiness, and the joy of God’s blessings to all who share in this blessed evening of fellowship, discourse, and friendship. Amen.