Farewell message by
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEOS I
upon his departure from Australia

" Upon returning to our homes, following a twenty day stay in Australia, we wish first of all to glorify God Who granted us this blessed experience, and to thank warmly all those who from any position or in any way worked hard for the organisation and success of this first Patriarchal Visit to the Antipodes.

Of course, our gratitude is extended primarily to our beloved brother in Christ, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia who, together with Their Graces the Bishops, the Reverend Fathers and lay co-workers, spared no effort or sacrifice for the best possible organisation of our Visit to his blessed Eparchy.

We sincerely thank the faithful people of God who came in their thousands to all the Liturgical, social and other events which took place within the framework of this Visit. The faithful surpassed themselves, and surpassed all of our expectations. And they moved us deeply. And they strengthened us. We admired their deep faith in God, their adherence to the traditions of our devout people, and their dedication to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and their spiritual leader, and through them to our Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We also give our warm thanks to the Federal and State political leaders of this blessed country, together with the municipal authorities of the cities which we visited, as they all honoured my humble person, the Holy Orthodox Church, our devout people, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese belonging to it, in an extremely moving manner.

Furthermore, we thank the representatives of the other denominations who expressed their love and honour towards us in all places and in many ways.

We found here in Australia a well organised and dynamic Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, with significant achievements in all areas of Ecclesiastical, educational, social and other endeavours of the Archdiocese and the beloved members of our community who belong to it. Achievements for which the Australian government has high regard and confidence, which is also why it supports them in manifold ways.

The canonical Church cannot possibly be dismayed -neither here nor anywhere else- by improper and impious discord, no matter what its motives may be. Rather, by being "steadfast and unshakeable" in the faith, the ethos, the tradition and its longstanding canonical order, the Church continues its salvific work, having regard only for "Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of the faith". And it always awaits the repentance of those who have gone astray. As the Lord of the Church has stated, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

Upon leaving for the sacred centre of our Church in Phanar, we give our fatherly blessing and Patriarchal wishes to all the blessed people of God here, thanking them all once again for everything. We hope that they will progress and grow in the Lord, for the Glory of His name and the pride of the mother Church, whose love and prayer goes beyond any distance and is constantly with our beloved people in Australia.

We send a special fatherly greeting and blessing to the dear members of our youth, whose modesty and devoutness we enjoyed, and we urge them to be worthy of our traditions and of our Greek Orthodox heritage."

Christ is in our midst!

November 27, 1996

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