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First Meeting of the Special Committee for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (HGCOC), at the Foreign Ministry

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Special Committee for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (HGCOC) met at the Foreign Ministry today, Thursday, 24 March 2016, in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis, by whose decision the Committee was formed.

The Committee meeting was chaired by the Special Secretary for Religious and Cultural Diplomacy, Dr. Efstathios C. Lianos Liantis, and was attended by its members: Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the Secretary of the Synodical Service of Ecclesiastical Order and Ecclesiastical Protocol, Fr. Alexios Bourlis, on behalf of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece; the head of the Local Government Grants Department of the Directorate of Economic and Development Policy for Local Government, of the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, Fotis Koutsianas; the inspector general of Southern Greece, Lieutenant General Aristidis Andrikopoulos; the head of the Department of Special Forms of Tourism and the Directorate of Tourism Investments of the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, Evgenia Kostopoulou-Spyropoulou; the Director of GEETHA/DIDIS, Brigadier General Aggelos Choudeloudis; the Secretary General for Infrastructure of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Giorgos Dedes; the special advisor to the Secretary General for Information and Communication, Giorgos Florentis; the seconded staff member of the Office of the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, Christa Nikolaou; and the scientific associate of the prefect of Attiki, Eleni-Fani Tserezole.

The proceedings of the HGCOC will take place from 16 to 27 June 2016, under the chairmanship of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, at the facilities of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, at Kolympari, Chania, while on the Sunday of Pentecost, which is being celebrated on 19 July this year, a mass will be led by the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Metropolitan church of Saint Minas, in Iraklio, Crete.

Following the first meeting of the Committee, the Deputy Foreign Minister Amanatidis stated:

“Orthodoxy has the historical potential to incorporate into its work the challenges of every era. The Holy and Great Council will serve as proof of the unity of the Orthodox Church and its vital presence in the modern world.

The message sent by the HGCOC will be heard with interest by all of humanity, regardless of given religious convictions. It is an historic event of global scope. The Greek state, desiring to contribute to the positive outcome of the HGCOC – without intervening in any way in any other ecclesiastical issue – is making arrangements with regard to any issues raised by those responsible for organizing the event and by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We thought that coordination is needed, as there will be issues of security, transport, infrastructure – issues large and small. This is why we decided to put together this committee. My presence is symbolic in nature at this time, in the sense that we – as the Foreign Ministry, and Minister Kotzias himself – are imparting the necessary gravity and importance to the organization of the HGCOC.

For our part, as the political leadership, we want to assure the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all of the Orthodox Churches that we will do everything humanly possible to resolve any issues that arise.”

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