Upon the patriarch’s arrival in Washington on October 24, he was admitted to George Washington University Hospital for observation after feeling unwell shortly before Mass at St. Sophia. A day later in the morning after medical observation, he was released and resumed the program of his apostolic visit to the United States.

During the meeting, participants discussed efforts to combat climate change, measures aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of religious freedom as a basic human right.

The Ecumenical Patriarch noted that the need for political leaders to respond to climate change is particularly timely in light of the upcoming COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.

Bartholomew also thanked President Biden for his decisive response to the pandemic and his willingness to support developing countries in providing vaccines against COVID-19.

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his sincere hope for the reopening of the Orthodox Theological Seminary on the island of Halki near Istanbul, which was forcibly closed fifty years ago.

During the meeting, I highlighted the key role religious communities play in addressing the global challenges we all face, as well as the decades-old friendship and partnership between President Biden and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The hour-long meeting was also attended by Archbishop of Chalcedon Emmanuel (Adamakis), Archbishop of America, Patriarchate of Constantinople, Elpidophoros Lamprinides, and Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Father Alexander Karlotsos.

I also met Bartholomew with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the State Department.

In addition, the spiritual head of Orthodoxy gave a speech at the Museum of the Bible via video. In the evening, he attended a dinner at Georgetown University, hosted by President John J. Deguya and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington.

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