Most Honorable Governor Branstad,
Your Eminence Archbishop Spyridon,
Your Grace Bishop Iakovos,
Beloved children in the Lord,
On behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Holy Synod and 300 million Orthodox Christians the world over, we greet the Governor of this illustrious state, the honorable Terry Branstad, and the people of Iowa with our warmest wishes and Patriarchal blessings. We come to the United States to convey in person, the blessings of the First Throne of the Orthodox Church.
Our See was established by Saint Andrew the Apostle, the First Called disciple of Christ, and we are his 270th successor. We have tenaciously preserved the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles through the centuries. We are the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils which defined the basic teachings of the Christian Faith.
Our faith guides us in the world, that we might witness the living truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. For Orthodox Christians, He is the guide and the model upon which we understand ourselves as beings, created in the image and likeness of God. We seek to bear living witness to Christ’s greatest commandment to “love one another.” Here in the heartland of America, we have an example of that love, and a powerful witness of what is best in American society.
In Iowa, the American principles of freedom, justice and liberty have been secured by the vigilant work of political and civic leaders. Governor Branstad and his administration exemplifies this commitment to freedom. Here in Des Moines, a diverse community of Orthodox Christians from many different backgrounds, has built a community that mirrors not only Orthodox Christianity’s diversity, but the diversity of Americans rich culture.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is always ready to support any and all efforts at realizing a peaceful, loving understanding between peoples of different faiths and cultures. We affirm without hesitation, that God’s life-giving mystery is present for all in the world. Indeed, we have made the ecological state of the world a priority in our policy of Ecumenical and Interfaith dialogue. We are committed to demonstrating through Orthodox Christian witness and praxis, a loving stewardship of the planet that we call our home.
We express our deepest gratitude to Governor Branstad for this wonderful luncheon. He too has demonstrated love through his generous hospitality. We pray that the friendships fostered here today will live on in all our lives. We give you our Patriarchal blessing and pray that the Lord will continue to bless and enrich the lives of the people of this great state.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His infinite mercy be with you always.