From the Press Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
On Friday, August 18, 2017, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew embarked on an official four-day visit to Hungary at the invitation of the country’s authorities. During the visit, His All-Holiness will be presented with a building complex located in the center of Budapest, which the Hungarian Government has decided to donate for the needs of the Orthodox Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Hungary.
Three years ago an Agreement of Cooperation was signed between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Hungarian Government, regulating the relations of the Orthodox Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Hungary with the State. Also, it is worth noting that in the Agreement particular emphasis is given to the important role that the Orthodox Church played in the history of Hungary. In the preamble of the Agreement it is noted, amongst other things, that “Saints Cyril and Methodios brought Eastern Christianity to these lands, which continues to be present as a living religious community. Even before the foundation of the state, the ancient Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople already had relations with the Hungarians and had sent Saint Ierotheos the Bishop to spread Christianity.”
Last December, within the framework of the Agreement, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the Holy Metropolis of Austria-Exarchate of Hungary and the Hungarian Government, stipulating the allocation of the aforementioned building in which the offices of the Exarchate, the Patriarchal Academy, the Greek School, and a Museum of Ecclesiastical Arts will be housed. A Guest House will also operate within this building. It is the desire of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the local Metropolis that this new headquarters of the Exarchate serve as a place to further advance dialogue, as well as become a cultural center where all people can meet.
This extremely significant Agreement with the Hungarian government was not the first gift to the Holy Metropolis of Austria, which benefits both from the generosity of others as well as the tireless efforts of His Eminence Metropolitan Arsenios. Specifically, the Roman Catholic Church in Austria gifted a newly renovated church in the city of Leoben to the Orthodox Metropolis of Austria, which has since become the center for all the Orthodox of the city, using German in all its liturgical services. Their gift also included a 70-acre plot of land, where an Orthodox Monastery will be established. As a symbolic acknowledgement of this gesture, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew personally received the deeds to the properties during his visit to Austria in November of 2014.