04/21/13: U.S. Secretary of State visits Phanar
On Sunday afternoon, April 21, 2013, during his trip to Turkey, the United States Secretary of State John Kerry arrived at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for an hour-long visit. Secretary Kerry was received at the entrance to the Patriarchal court by the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, the Very Rev. Archim. Bartholomew Samaras, who escorted him to the Patriarchal Offices, where Mr. Kerry met with His All-Holiness. Among those in attendance during the meeting were His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, His Excellency Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, the Hon. Scott Frederic Kilner, U.S. Consul General in Istanbul, and Mr. Laki Vingas, representative to the Turkish government for the Minority Foundations. The Patriarchal Court was represented by the V. Rev. Archim. Bartholomew Samaras and the Rev. Deacon Nephon Tsimalis. The U.S. Secretary of State assured His All-Holiness of the ongoing and unwavering support of the United States for religious freedom and the reopening of the Theological School of Halki. In turn, His All-Holiness expressed his gratitude to Mr. Kerry, while also conveying his fervent prayers for the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the people of Massachusetts. Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch accompanied Secretary Kerry to the Patriarchal Church of St. George and to the memorial gate of Patriarch Gregory V, whereupon he escorted him to his car. Mr. Kerry follows a long tradition established by former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had visited the Phanar on three occasions, followed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.