Response of the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

To the address of His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
July 18, 1999

Your All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, beloved brother in the Lord,

We have been deeply moved by the gracious welcome that you have extended to me and my associates during this, my first visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, this ancient and highly venerated see which stands as the first among equals in the Orthodox world. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we greet you as well as the other hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne and those who assist you in your all important ministry of leadership and service. Though I, as Primate, and some of my colleagues have met you now officially and formally for the first time while others of us have known you for many years, we already feel that we are your friends, and indeed that is what we wish to be -- friends in the One Lord who unites us all in the worship of God who is the Living and True. Already we sense that we are at home in this venerable spiritual center of Orthodoxy.

It is significant that we come to you at the close of the second millennium and the dawn of the third, and we dare to hope that in some small way our visit to the Great Church and our meeting with you is indicative of a new springtime that is slowly overcoming the ecumenical winter of the past few decades. We salute the achievements that your All Holiness has already so readily and successfully contributed, both to the larger world community in your concerns for ecology, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation and relations between religions, as well as to your witness in the Christian ecumenical movement that is so well appreciated in the World Council of Churches and in the dialogues between various individual churches and especially in our own Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. May I humbly dare to hope that my own ministry as Presiding Bishop and Primate that is now beginning may be inspired by your example. May your same example also enliven the dialogue of Anglicans and Orthodox in the United States that is soon to be re-established under the leadership of my esteemed brother, the Bishop of New York, who at my appointment serves the Episcopal Church in this important role. And may my new service as co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission be helpful also to the concerns of the Orthodox churches as well as others. The Episcopal Church is committed to Christian unity on the basis of the Holy Scriptures, the ancient creeds, the gospel sacraments, and the ministry of the historic episcopate, elements which collectively we call the "Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral." The last and most discussed of these points, the historic episcopate, which is integral to the life of the ancient churches of the East and West, we are determined in no way to abandon or compromise.

We have been grateful for the opportunity to visit some of the historic sites in this part of the world, especially those places that are not only historic but also holy, and we applaud the determination of your Ecumenical Throne, of the Great Church, to remain here in this city where it has always been, for in this way we believe you serve most effectively the causes of peace and unity to which we are all committed. Where there is an historic church in a given place, it is the desire of the Episcopal Church to offer it our support both in prayer and in areas of practical collaboration, and not to compete with it. At the same time, the official policy of our church explicitly excludes any act of proselytism. Our informal theological conversations which took place yesterday on Halki were straightforward and encouraging. They, together with other conversations we have enjoyed with your All Holiness and representatives of your Ecumenical Throne during these past few days lead me to extend to you my willingness and indeed my heartfelt desire to be of service to and in solidarity with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the days ahead. I do so mindful of the long history of friendship, practical collaboration, and theological convergence between the Great Church of Constantinople and the churches of the Anglican Communion.

Especially in this land of the ancient ecumenical councils, we have been pleased to visit and to pray as pilgrims; and in the town of Iznik, the ancient city of Nicaea, where the first and seventh ecumenical councils met, we have been moved to say with renewed conviction the words of the ecumenical symbol of our faith: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father ... And in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." May the liberating presence of the Holy Spirit who animates and enlivens the Church drawing her ever deeper into the mystery of Christ guide us and urge us in the days ahead. And may the communion of the Holy and Undivided Trinity become more and more visible in the life and labor we share. "My brother is my life," as the Desert Fathers remind us. I regard you as my brother not only in friendship but according to God's will, not only for my good but for the good of God's Holy Church. Again I thank your All Holiness for your gracious welcome and encouragement to me and those who have accompanied me on this visit. I ask God's blessing and strengthening grace upon the ministry you exercise, both here in the Great Church and as Ecumenical Patriarch, in this world that desperately needs the healing and reconciling power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.