Address by Archbishop Gabriel to Patriarch Bartholomew

On the final day of his four day visit to Paris, on the morning of Thursday, April 14, His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch paid a visit to the Institute of St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute. Below is the welcoming speech of Archbishop Gabriel to the patriarch.

Your All Holiness,

It is for us a wonderful grace to have the opportunity to welcome you to our Institute of Theology on the occasion of your visit to Paris to present the new edition of the Ecumenical Translation of the Bible. We are truly delighted.

You know of our allegiance to the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the time that His Holiness Photios II received my predecessor of blessed memory, Metropolitan Eulogius in 1931 under the omophorion the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As you know, our link with the See of Constantinople is vital to our very existence.

As shown by all the declarations of my predecessors, from the courageous act of Metropolitan Eulogius in 1931, our affiliation to the Ecumenical Patriarchate guarantees us canonical communion with the Orthodox world as a whole and we can live here in France and throughout Europe West, in fraternal and fruitful collaboration with all the Orthodox communities of our country.

It was in the heart of the Russian emigration that this theological school was founded through the generosity of the faithful and the fraternal support of our non-Orthodox Christian brothers. Permit
me express our gratitude for your fatherly love and material support for our Institute.

This centre has served the needs for the theological education of the Orthodox clergy, firstly for the pastoral needs of the Exarchate. But the body of teachers has also helped to promote ecumenical dialogue. Some of them were invited to the Second Vatican Council and their theology has often positively influenced the conciliar documents.

Your All Holiness,

Today, our Exarchate has in fact become multinational. Thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church tradition received from the Metropolitan Eulogius and his successors we are what we are. We are all indebted to them and we are all custodians of the legacy they have transmitted, that is to say the legacy of the Russian tradition, as expressed in the way of celebrating the Liturgy, of singing, painting icons, living the rhythm of the Church year.... I express our gratitude for the respect that the Great Church has always shown towards us. For our part, we pledge to continue our pastoral work under the omophorion the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which has never attempted to "Hellenize" us, but gives us full freedom to continue to follow our vocation, to prepare the way for the establishment of a local church, in communion of prayer and action with all the Orthodox in this country.

Before concluding, I would like to recall some words of Olivier Clement of blessed memory: "Let us work together, each enriching the other by one’s own heritage in the context of Orthodoxy: in modesty, openly, and with the conviction that for the Evangelical Tradition to be alive, it must be creative. " I would also recall the words of St. John of Kronstadt: "The Eucharist is a continual miracle." We can say the same of the Church: "She also is a continual miracle! . With awe at what God offers us, and with gratitude, may the eyes of our heart be open to the miracle that is the Church, ancient and venerable and yet still young, always the same and yet always new.

Your All Holiness,

I pray God grant you many years for the welfare of his holy Church. Eis polla ETI Despota.

+ Gabriel archbishop of Comana

Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch

Paris, Saint-Sergius Institute

April 14, 2011