Metropolitan Rastislav began Friday, 13 May 2016, his first irenic visit to the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, as Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the Press Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate reported.
The official reception of the delegation of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia took place the following day in the Throne Hall of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the presence of His Holiness Bartholomew and other hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople.
In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his joy to receive the irenic visit of the Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. In addition, he expressed the joy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that by joint efforts both peace and tranquility in the Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia, and her communion with the entire Orthodoxy were restored.
His Holiness Bartholomew referred to the extensive spiritual and sacrificial work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and invited the Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia to do likewise.
The Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia has to submit a spiritual and fruitful work of mystical sacrifice, which we are certain that will continue and develop under the spiritual guidance of Your Beatitude, in order to support the Orthodox flock, on the one hand, and to convey the presence and the message of Orthodoxy in the two countries under the jurisdiction of Your Beatitude’s Church, on the other hand.
The Orthodox Church, His Holiness said, is Europe’s hope and the hope of all the ends of the earth.
Our Orthodox Church is the only one that preserves her sacramental character intact; she has always avoided the negative effects of secularization, which transforms her divine-human institution into a mere human edifice. The Orthodox Church is the true hope of every man in search for genuine spiritual and ecclesiastical life. She is the hope of Europe. She is the hope of all the ends of the earth. Therefore, our responsibility, as Orthodox faithful, is great before God and fellow men.
The presence of His Beatitude Rastislav in Constantinople was considered a witness of the truth that the two Primates must increase in faith, in hope, in fear of God, in the sacrificial self-emptying for the benefit of their Churches and the Orthodox people, in order to demonstrate unity and service, especially during the works of the Holy and Great Council.
The Ecumenical Patriarch assured Metropolitan Rastislav of support in any circumstance and need, and expressed his availability to assist fraternally the salvific work of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
His Holiness recalled that martyrdom and the cross are not just signs of unity (of Saints) but also the criterion of authenticity of the work and the way of the Orthodox Church in the world.
On the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, 15 May 2016, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Rastislav, Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God (Balıklı), Amen.gr informs.
Together with the two Primates also concelebrated Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Demetrius of Sevastia, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria, Archbishop Michal of Prague and Archbishop Nektarios of Antedon.
In the same day, the Primate of the youngest Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Rastislav, visited the Halki School of Theology and the Holy Trinity Monastery. Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Brusa, abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery – Halki, presented the history of the important buildings of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The delegation accompanying His Beatitude Rastislav consists of:
- Archbishop Michal of Prague;
- Archpriest Milan Gerke;
- Archimandrite Serafim Šemjatovský, secretary of the Holy Synod;
- Michal Švajko;
- Archdeacon Maxim Durila;
- Deacon Kiril Sarkassian;
- Ms Iveta Stacova (interpreter).