Presiding bishop’s meeting with Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem ‘historic’

Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, exchanging gifts during a meeting in late December at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem’s Old City. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, exchanging gifts during a meeting in late December at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem’s Old City. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

[Episcopal News Service] During a recent visit to the Holy Land, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was received by the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III, in what was a historic meeting.

“It was the first time I’d been invited into that conversation. I meet with the Greeks in the U.S., but I think it was a profound act of hospitality on his part,” said Jefferts Schori. “The Orthodox don’t think that women should be ordained.

“He was enormously gracious and gave us quite a long time in conversation. I think because he understands that the Episcopal Church is a very significant partner, and a church that is in solidarity with his colleagues here. And that we have a very important role to play in terms of motivating our own government and people in the United States. I think we also have a role to play in motivating Episcopalians in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe. I think we could have a larger voice there that might have an impact.”

The Greek Patriarch is traditionally referred to as the bishop of Jerusalem in recognition of the leadership role his office plays in ecumenical, interfaith and political responsibilities on behalf of the members of the indigenous Christian churches.  Bishop Suheil Dawani, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, is also referred to as the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem as he is the Anglican Communion representative among the ecumenical leaders in the Holy City, said said Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations

“This is the first time I am aware of that a patriarch of Jerusalem has officially and ceremonially received the head of a Christian church who is also an ordained woman. I think it stands as a testament to the great bonds of affection between the Greek Orthodox community in Jerusalem and the Anglican tradition of Christianity, including Bishop Suheil and Bishop Katharine.”

In the United States, the Orthodox churches, along with the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, “share with the Episcopal Church an official intuitional tie to the historic Christian communities of the Holy Land.  Together, those churches represent some of the Episcopal Church’s closest partners in working toward a just, peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Baumgarten.

“I hope the presiding bishop’s meeting with the patriarch might be seen by many in the United States as an invitation to stand in unity, across Christian traditions, with the historic churches of the Holy Land and their leaders in working toward a just and peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Comments

  1. Newland F. Smith, 3rd says:

    While I was deeply moved by the account of the meeting of Bishop Katharine with the Greek Patriarch, I remember being in the presence of a previous Greek Patriarch on the morning of April 25, 1990 as a group of thirty including Samir Kafity, the Episcopal Bishop in Jerusalem, five other bishops and clergy and lay persons who were attending the week of celebration for the completion and dedication of the renovated Saint George’s College, processed from the College down to the Damascus Gate and through the Old City to the offices of the Greek Patriarch who received us. The purpose of the visit as Bishop Kafity said to the Greek Partriarch was to declare our support for the Greek Patriarch’s stand against the occupation of Saint John’s Hospice by Jewish settlers. I believe working for ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ in the Holy Land must not only name the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but also name the ever growing settler movement and at the very least express even in a small way as did that group of Anglicans twenty-two years ago our solidarity with the Palestinian Christians as they stand in opposition to the settlers.

    Newland F. Smith, 3rd

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