Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) submitted the following remarks into the Congressional Record to commend the upcoming meeting of Orthodox Christian Churches, the first of its kind in over a millennium:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the events taking place on the Greek island of Crete, where Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has called a historic meeting of Orthodox Christian Churches.

“This meeting, known as the Holy and Great Council, is the first of its kind in over a millennium. The fourteen Orthodox Christian Churches together have over 300 million followers around the world, including over a million Americans. These churches are self-governing but united by common dogma, faith, liturgy, and moral conviction, with the Ecumenical Patriarch serving as the ‘first among equals.’

“Three hundred and fifty leaders will attend this meeting, which is set to begin on Sunday and continue through June 26. They will discuss key issues facing Orthodox Christians, including the church’s mission in today’s world, the Orthodox diaspora, and relations with other Christian churches.

“Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was elected in October 1991 as the 270th Archbishop of his 2000-year-old Church.  He holds numerous doctorates, including from Georgetown and Yale, and was awarded a Gold Medal by Congress in 1997.

“The Patriarch has a record of reaching out and working for peace and reconciliation among all faiths and has fostered dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Patriarch organized a gathering of religious leaders including Muslim Imams to condemn the attacks as an anti-religious act.

“Mr. Speaker, the over one million Orthodox Christians in the United States represent diverse backgrounds and cultures. I join them in celebrating this historic meeting.”

NOTE: Chairman Royce is an active member of the Hellenic Caucus.  Royce has also spoken out against the misdeeds wrought against the Ecumenical Patriarch and has authored legislation urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  Chairman Royce was previously recognized for his work on Greece, receiving the Pericles Award in 1999.