Annual Paschal Luncheon Meeting of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Clergy on May 14, 2013

May 15, 2013
Annual Paschal Luncheon Meeting of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Clergy on May 14, 2013

It has become an Annual Tradition for His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios, Chairman of the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops, to host a Luncheon Meeting after Pascha for all Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Hierarchs and Clergy of Toronto and Vicinity. This Luncheon Meeting was held on Tuesday May 14th 2013 at the Offices of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada). Along with His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios, who hosted the meeting, other Hierarchs attending were His Eminence Archbishop Matthias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; His Grace Bishop Mina of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and His Grace Bishop Christoforos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto. Over 55 Priests and Deacons were also in attendance. From the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Clergy were present from the Greek Orthodox; Ukrainian Orthodox; Serbian Orthodox; Romanian Orthodox; Bulgarian Orthodox; Georgian Orthodox; and Russian Orthodox Churches. From the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Clergy were present from the Armenian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syrian Malabar Orthodox Churches. Also in attendance was Ambassador Andrew Bennett, Head of the Office of Religious Freedom of the Government of Canada, who was specially invited by His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios to attend this meeting.

The Meeting began with the celebration of Paschal Matins in the Chapel of St. John the Theologian, and continued with the formal Meeting in the Library of the Holy Metropolis. His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios addressed the esteemed gathering with a Theological Meditation on the theme that has been chosen as the theme of the year for our Holy Metropolis: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). His Eminence then introduced Ambassador Bennett, who spoke about the Office of Religious Freedom that he heads, and his vision for how this Office can be of assistance to Canadians concerned about religious persecution in their home countries or elsewhere in the world. A festive Luncheon was hosted by His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios for the Ambassador Bennett and all invited Hierarchs and Clergy.

After the Luncheon, a lively and spirited discussion was held with the Ambassador, who made an excellent impression on all, showing that he has a keen intellect and very good knowledge of the affairs and challenging issues which his Office will be dealing with. Some of the topics that were discussed were: 1) the recent abduction of two Orthodox Metropolitans in Syria, whose whereabouts and status are still unknown; 2) the uncovering of a plot to assassinate His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on May 29th, which is the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks; 3) the state of Christians in the Middle East after the so-called “Arab Spring”, especially in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Palestine and Syria; 4) the restrictions on religious freedom for Christian minorities in Kossovo, Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere. 5) the massacre of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt on October 9th 2011 in the Masbiro Massacre; 6) possible measures that may be taken by the Canadian Government to proactively support preventative procedures against future religious based conflicts in the Middle East. It was especially noted that it is estimated that over 200 Million Christians undergo persecution today in various parts of the world.

In closing, the Ambassador was requested to make every effort to inform the Canadian Mass Media of the persecution of Christians and other faiths around the world.

From the Office of Inter-Church Relations

of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)

May 15th, 2013