Biden and Orthodox Patriarch discuss climate and religious freedom | Ap

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President Joe Biden and the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians discussed ways to fight climate change and end the coronavirus pandemic as well as the importance of religious freedom in an Oval Office session on Monday .

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 81, met separately with Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken shortly after being hospitalized overnight for not feeling well at the start of his 12-day visit to the United States.

As Bartholomew’s visit was to draw attention to the plight of the small Orthodox Christian minority in his native Turkey, he adopted a diplomatic tone at a breakfast hosted by Turkish Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan , according to statements published by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. from America.

Bartholomew said his mission as Patriarch “is purely spiritual and demonstrates how Turkey can be – not only an inclusive society, but a bridge builder between East and West”. He described the Ambassador’s welcome as an example of mutual “dialogue and respect”.

The remarks did not refer to sensitive points such as the Turkish government shutting down an Orthodox seminary on the Turkish island of Halki 50 years ago.

Blinken, however, “reaffirmed that reopening the Halki Seminary remains an ongoing priority,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“They discussed the United States’ commitment to supporting religious freedom around the world and opportunities to work with the Orthodox Christian community around the world on issues of common interest, as well as with religious minorities in Turkey and the region, ”Price said.

The White House said the meeting between Bartholomew and Biden “underscored the critical role religious communities play in addressing the range of global challenges we all face.”

Bartholomew told the White House he was abundantly pleased with his visit, praising Biden as “a man of faith and a man of vision.”

“We cannot allow any short-sighted political agenda to interfere with our relationships, which are through and in Christ Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the world. ” he said.

Blinken also praised the “remarkable leadership” shown by Bartholomew, sometimes known as the “Green Patriarch,” in calling for solutions to the climate crisis.

Bartholomew also said on Monday that he would join Pope Francis and leaders of other major world religions in calling on the global community to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations for the world, especially for poor countries.

Bartholomew was released from a Washington hospital Monday morning after an overnight stay. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital on Sunday evening after feeling “bad” about Saturday’s long flight and busy schedule of events, according to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Bartholomew is the Patriarch of Constantinople, based in Turkey. He is considered the first among his peers among the Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which gives him the importance but not the power of a Catholic pope. It oversees the Greek Orthodox and some other jurisdictions, although large parts of the Eastern Orthodox world are autonomous under their own patriarchs.

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Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.


The Associated Press’s religious coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment via The Conversation US. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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