Patriarch was born as Aleksey Mihajlovich Ridiger in Tallinn,Estonia on February 23, 1929 into the family of Russian emigrants , and he is a descendant of German Baltic noble family ofvon Ridiger which adopted Orthodoxy in 18th century.
Greeting by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW to the Delegation of the Church of Rome3. December 2008 - 13:51
Cardinal Walter Kasper
Representative of His Holiness Pope Benedict
The Sixteenth, Bishop of Rome
Along with your esteemed entourage
With much joy and jubilation in the Lord we welcome your presence and participation in the annual celebration of the memory of the glorious Saint Andrew the First Called Disciple, founder of our Holy Church of Constantinople. From our heart we thank our very beloved brother Pope Benedict, the head of the Church in Rome, because he was well disposed to send you here, as the bearer of his brotherly message of feelings of love and honor. These feelings we also return from our hearts, wishing him and the holy sister Church of Rome every blessing and grace from God.
Decades ago, a holy practice was established encouraging the visitation of the representatives of our Churches at each other's thronal feasts. The ever-memorable heads of our Churches, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI established the first event. It was animated by the living desire that our Churches which had been separated for a whole millennium and, occasionally, found themselves at opposing positions that were not beneficial, finally came into a period of a dialogue of love and truth. This dialogue would have as its end the full restoration of complete unity, just as in the first millennium after Christ.
When the brotherhood of Saint Simeon from the Monastery ofTvrdosh initiated publishing of the collected works of Bishop Atanasije (what hedid not approve), we have, during reviewing and publishing some works of BishopAtanasije (see Bibliography of hisworks at the end of the book ‘'Jesus Alpha and Omega'', Vrnjci-Trebinje 2004'')come upon a few his earlier and recent, published and not published texts about Ecumenism. In these texts Bishop distinguishand divides Ecumenism further: so there is Orthodox Oicumenism andEcumenism, which he divides on Roman (=Roman Catholic) and Geneve (=protestant)- so we asked him to publish it separately in a book which is already here , infront of readers.
The homilies for the services and celebrations for the patron of Constantinople, St. Andrew, were centered on the certainty that the common journey toward full unity between the two sister Churches - Catholic and Orthodox - is the only answer, including to the challenges of today's world in full economic, political, and social crisis.
The celebrations were attended by a large delegation from the Church of Rome, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the council for Christian unity, representatives of the other Christian confessions, the diplomatic corps, and various authorities.
On Sunday, November 23, 2008 one of the most beautiful and the greatest buildings of church architecture in Serbia, a church of Synaxis of the Holy Apostles ,was consecrated. Prayerful gathering , attended by lots of believers, began with all-night vigil service, after which His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa along with Their Graces Bishop Hrizostom of Zicha, Bishop Pahomije of Vranje, Bishop Jovan of Shumadija introduced holy relics into the church and put them in front of a main icon of the Lord Jesus Christ.