Greek Orthodox archbishop to visit Moscow
According to a press release from the Greek Orthodox Church in the US, Archbishop Demetrios of America will travel to Russia on May 21, leading a delegation from the Archdiocese on an official visit to the Patriarchate of Moscow. This first official visit of an Archbishop of America to the Church of Russia comes after the invitation of Patriarch Alexy II, conveyed both in person by His Grace Bishop Mercurius of Zaraisk, the Administrator of the Parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the United States, and in writing by His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the Head of External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Accompanying the Archbishop on the seven day visit will be two Members of the Holy Eparchial Synod, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, as well as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Bishop Savas of Troas, Mr. Michael Jaharis, the Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council, representatives of major Church organizations, and accompanying staff.
The visit comes at a time of important developments in the Russian Orthodox Church in America, especially the reunification of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). The visit also comes during an important and auspicious celebration in the Russian Federation, that of Slavic Letters Day; the only Holiday of both a national and religious character.
The celebration of Slavic Letters Day on May 24th (May 11th on the Old or Julian Calendar) commemorates Sts. Cyril and Methodios, the apostles to the Slavs who were blood brothers from Thessaloniki, sent by Patriarch Photios the Great of Constantinople to evangelize the Slavic lands in the ninth century. It is a day when the faith, linguistic, and ethnic heritage of the Russian people is commemorated by both the State and the Church. On that day, Archbishop Demetrios and the accompanying Hierarchs will serve Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Alexy II in the world renown Cathedral of the Dormition inside the walls of the Kremlin, and will participate in special commemorative festivities for the occasion. Commenting on this unique opportunity Archbishop Demetrios said:
"For me, a son of Thessaloniki - the city of Saints Cyril and Methodios, and as Exarch of the same Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople that sent them on their apostolic mission of evangelization to share the Good News of the Gospel - this is a distinct honor and a remarkable opportunity to express the unity of our Orthodox Faith, our historical roots and connections, and to amplify our continuing dialogue of fraternal love and mutual respect."
Some of the highlights of the schedule are described below, and there will be daily postings on the website of the Archdiocese (http://www.goarch.org) that will update the faithful on the activities and events as they occur.
Thursday May 22 - Arrival and official welcome of the Archbishop and Hierarchs by Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Friday May 23 - The Archbishop and the delegation will be hosted at the famous St. Sergios of Radonezh Monastery outside of Moscow. The Monastery, among its many Churches and facilities, houses the Moscow Spiritual Academy, the largest Graduate Theological School in all of Russia. Archbishop Demetrios will offer an address to the Faculty and Student Body.
Saturday May 24th - The Celebration of Slavic Letters Day; Divine Liturgy at the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin with Patriarch Alexy II; participation in the State and Church festivities and a reception hosted by the Patriarch.
Sunday May 25th - The Archbishop and his delegation will be hosted by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
Monday May 26th - Visits to various religious and philanthropic institutions in Moscow.
Tuesday, May 27 - The Archbishop will have a private audience with Patriarch Alexy II.
Throughout the week, official talks and dialogues will be scheduled for the Archbishop with differing representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Archbishop returns to the United States on Wednesday, May 28th.