Washington D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hosted a lunch in honor of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew today at the Capitol. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:
'It is a distinct honor and high privilege to welcome His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew back to the United States Capitol. One week ago, the Congress passed a resolution marking His All Holiness' visit to the United States and recognizing his leadership on 'matters of the environment, peace and religion.' To the Members of Congress sitting here today - and to three hundred million Orthodox Christians worldwide - the Ecumenical Patriarch is a spiritual guide, a leader of faith, and a source of inspiration.
'To individuals of all faiths, His All Holiness is a force for justice, compassion, and religious freedom across the globe. His work is founded on an unyielding belief in our better angels, in our common values, in the idea that faith is a force for good and religion a catalyst for peace. His message is simple: we are all bound together by the planet we share, and we each have an obligation to serve a higher purpose.
'Standing as a bridge between the Christian and Muslim worlds, His All Holiness has reminded us that what binds us together is stronger than what tears us apart and, in the words of the Congressional Resolution in his honor, he has 'revealed the wisdom of diverse theological traditions.' After 9/11, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew demonstrated the power of his principles, convening a meeting that produced the first condemnation by Muslim leaders of the attacks as 'an anti-religious act.'
'Over the years, His All Holiness has become a passionate spokesman for our most basic common link: our environment. He is called 'the Green Patriarch.' The United Nations has hailed him as a 'Laureate Champion of the Earth.' His All Holiness has declared the moral imperative to preserve our most precious natural resources, recognizing that climate change is a challenge that knows no borders and heeds no distinctions of party or nation, race or religion. As His All Holiness has written, 'The natural environment unites us in ways that transcend doctrinal differences.' And 'just as God is indivisible, so too is our global environment.'
'The Congress of the United States is proud to host such an extraordinary leader, a winner of the Congressional Gold Medal, and an example of commitment, compassion, and conviction for all of us. Thank you, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for joining us today, for your vision, and for your noble efforts to leave a legacy of justice for future generations.'