In New York, on October 27, over a thousand people gathered around the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, to honor Father Alexander and his wife Presbytera Xanthi Karloutsos, as they received the Athenagoras Human Rights Award.
Both received the award for their decades of service to the Church.
His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France was present.
“They have never let us down, Father Alex and Presbytera [Xanthi], not even once”, he said. He praised “their spiritual care for every person they have encountered over their decades of service in ministry, from the least, to their parish, to the greatest, in the halls of secular power.”
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was not able to attend, but he sent a video message: “You have rightly chosen to recognize and honor the unwavering dedication and selfless service they have demonstrated the last five decades to Orthodoxy in the United States and throughout the entire world… Father Alex has deeply impacted and enriched many souls around the globe in search of spiritual refuge and guidance.”
And there was a surprise guest, in the person of Former Vice President Joe Biden (who is Roman Catholic). In his speech, he praised the Ecumenical Patriarch in these terms:
“one of my greatest honors of my life” was meeting the Ecumenical Patriarch several times including in America, Greece and Turkey”. He is the “most Christ-like figure I have ever met.” “I’ve never met anyone like His All-Holiness. He radiates grace, conviction, and faith in every movement – even,” Biden added with a chuckle, “even when he and I were stuck in a very small, broken-down elevator in Athens last year.”
The issue of the Ukrainian autocephaly was raised, with the following statements:
“There isn’t a person in this room who is unaware of the historic and monumental decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to heal schisms in Ukraine and once and for all bestow upon the long-suffering and noble Ukrainian people their independence and birthright of autocephaly,” Dr. Limberakis said. “We know what the Mother Church is up against and as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Defenders of the Faith, we have, we are, and we will continue to stand at Her side in this battle for religious freedom.”
As the Archons engage on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in what Limberakis termed “this fight for the freedom and self-determination of Ukraine and, just as important, the canonical rights and prerogatives of the Ecumenical Throne granted by the seven Ecumenical Councils, there are no better comrades in arms than Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi.”
Biden also approved Patriarch Bartholomew’s in this matter, “because people in every part of the world should be free to worship as they choose, and it falls to us to protect that freedom.” “We have to continue to work together around the world to ensure the Greek Orthodox Church can not only control its destiny, but be free of the influence of governments.”