Istanbul – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed the Hon. Joseph Biden, Vice President of the United States to the Sacred See of St. Andrew, First-called of the Apostles. The historical first visit of a sitting Vice President of the United States took place on Saturday, December 3, 2011, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, and lasted approximately two hours.
Vice President Biden was greeted at the entrance to the Patriarchal compound by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, together with the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, and the Patriarchal Court.
His All-Holiness met with the Vice President in his personal office for a private conversation. Among the issues discussed were religious freedom in Turkey, the reopening of the Theological School of Halki, Turkey’s accession to the European Union, and the ecological initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Afterward, the Vice President was introduced to members of the Holy and Sacred Synod, clergy and laity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as prominent members of the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey and abroad, including Archons of the Order of St. Andrew in the United States. Finally, Vice President Biden was guided through the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
[From the Office of the Chief Secretary]
The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle is comprised of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who have been honored for their outstanding service to The Orthodox Church by having a Patriarchal title, or “offikion,” bestowed upon them by His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Those upon whom this title of the Mother Church has been conferred are known as “Archons of the Great Church of Christ,” and the titles are personally conferred by the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.
The Order of St. Andrew’s fundamental goal and mission is to promote the religious freedom, wellbeing and advancement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey.