Speech of Patriarch Daniel delivered in the Hall of the Throne of the Patriarchal Residence in Constantinople
Your Eminences and Your Graces,
Reverend monks and fathers,
He is Risen Indeed!
First of all, we would like to thank Your Holiness for the welcome speech and nice appreciations, which greatly honour us, and which we consider as being addressed not to us, personally, but especially to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Church born through the preaching of Saint Andrew the Apostle, which, by the mercy and grace of God, we serve as Patriarch.
At the same time, we express, in our turn, our appreciation both for the friendship that Your Holiness has always shown to our Church and to the Romanian people, and for the wisdom and dynamics with which You give witness to Orthodoxy in Constantinople and in other great cities of the world. In this sense, during the visits that You paid to Romania, You had the opportunity to see for Yourself the appreciation that the Romanian Orthodox clergy and faithful express towards Your Holiness, showing in this way their respect for the first among the Orthodox patriarchs, as well as for the traditional relations cultivated between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We also express our joy to be again, by the will and blessing of God, in this venerable Patriarchal Cathedral dedicated to Saint Great Martyr George, together with hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church who accompany us on this pilgrimage-visit here, in the City of Saint Emperor Constantine, Equal-to-the Apostles, as well as in the blessed region of Cappadochia.
Our presence in Constantinople is, first of all, an irenic visit paid to Your Holiness, beloved brother in the hierarchal service, this year, when we celebrate, by the will of God, 650 years since the establishment of the Metropolitanate of the Romanian Country or Ungro-Wallachia, in 1359, the same year when Saint Gregory Palamas fell asleep into the Lord. Following the request of the prince of Wallachia, Nicolae Alexandru Basarab, the Ecumenical Patriarch Calist I of Constantinople confirmed Iachint - the last metropolitan of the Dobrudgean old city of Vicina - as metropolitan of Wallachia or hierarch of the Metropolitanate of Ungro-Wallachia (1359 - 1372).
Our spiritual pilgrimage within Cappadochia is also included in the context of the brotherly relations existing throughout centuries between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Romanian Orthodox Church, relations present ever since the first Christian centuries. For example, when reading attentively the martyrdom act of Saint Sava of Buzău (+372), one understands that it was drafted "in Roman land", wherefrom the relics of Saint Sava had been brought by order of the governor of Scythia, Iunius Soranus. The same governor, who came from Cappadochia, must have had asked that the respective martyrdom act be drafted, in the 4th century too, by Bishop Bretanion of Tomis, he himself a Cappadochian, or by the people around him, the relics having been requested from the governor by Saint Hierarch Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadochia himself (+379).
These century-old relations receive a present connotation by the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church to proclaim the year 2009, within the Romanian Patriarchate, as Homage - commemorative Year dedicated to Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadochia (+379 - from whose falling asleep into the Lord we commemorate 1630 years) and of the other Cappadochian Saints. The manifold projects dedicated to these manifestations are designed to emphasize once again the special contribution of Saint Basil the Great and of the other Cappadochian saints to the clarification and defence of the faith, to the development of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, to the enriching of the liturgical and canonical treasure, as well as to the development of the monastic life and of the social-philanthropic work of the Orthodox Church. Today, all these examples are a source of light for us, in the work of the Orthodox Church.
In fact, the special relation of the Romanian Orthodox Church with Saint Hierarch Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadochia, is underlined in our title too, as Locum tenens of the Throne of Caesarea of Cappadochia. This honour was granted, for the first time, to the metropolitan of Wallachia, Gregory II (1760 - 1787), by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Sophronius II, on 10 October 1776, as an appreciation and acknowledgement of the special financial hospitable support the Romanian Principalities granted to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in hard times. Ever since 1925, this title has been part of the title of all the Patriarchs of Romania, as they are also metropolitans of Ungro-Wallachia (today of Muntenia and Dobrudgea).
Thus, our pilgrimage to Cappadochia gives us the opportunity to enjoy the blessing of the Cappadochian Saints and the light they spread with much devotion, through their life and words. This is why the encounter with the holy places where the Cappadochian Saints lived becomes for all of us a source of holy joy, of love, peace and devotion.
Thirdly, we are glad because on the occasion of this visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate we have the opportunity to meet the Romanian Orthodox faithful, sons and daughters of the Romanian nation, constituted in an active community, at the church of Saint Paraskeva-Pikridion, which Your Holiness granted with generosity to this community to use it for their liturgical and pastoral needs. In this context, we express our hope that we shall renew the agreement between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Romanian Patriarchate concerning the usage, in the future too, of the church of Saint Paraskeva in Istanbul, by the Romanian Orthodox community over here. This proof of Christian love is so much more important nowadays, because, in the context of the phenomenon of migration, the liturgical fraternal communion between the sister Orthodox Churches is strengthened even more through attitudes and actions of pastoral and missionary inter-aid, of mutual respect between different ethnic groups, but united through the same Orthodox faith, through brotherly love and missionary co-responsibility.
To end with, we thank our Most Merciful God for making us worthy of being pilgrims in this venerable place, rich in spiritual significance and in much Orthodox dignity, and also to Your Holiness for the warmth with which You have welcomed us here, in the light of the Resurrection and of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the Source of the everlasting Joy.
PATRIARCH OF THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH