The Patriarch of Alexandria to pay a visit to the Serbian Orthodox Church

His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodoros II, is going to pay an official (irenic) visit to His Holiness Patriarch of Serbia Irinej and the Serbian Orthodox Church from September 22 to 29, 2017.

The inhabitants of Belgrade will have an opportunity to greet His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros and his entourage immediately upon his arrival on Friday, September 22, 2017, when, after a solemn welcome, in honor of the distinguished guest a doxology will be served in the Cathedral of the Holy Archangel Michael in Belgrade at 9:30 am.

The program of the visit envisages that the high dignitaries from the Alexandrian Church take part in the vigil service, which will be celebrated in the Belgrade Cathedral on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at 5 pm.

The central event of the visit will be the triumphant Divine Liturgy which the two Patriarchs and Hierarchs of two Churches will officiate on Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Together with the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, the Hierarchs, the priesthood and the monastics, the God-loving Serbian people will show hospitality to the dear guests in the most important Serbian shrines, monasteries: Krusedol, Hopovo, Zica, Studenica, Sopocani, Patriarchate of Pec, Visoki Decani, the city of Nis, as well as in the Ravanica monastery.

The Primates of the two Churches will meet with the leading figures of the state and social life of Serbia.

During the visit, the Heads of the two Churches, with members of their delegations, will conduct official talks concerning the current issues and problems that both Churches face, as well as Orthodoxy and Christianity as a whole, among which the causes and consequences of unprecedented suffering and exodus of Christian people, especially in the Middle East and on the African continent.

Official or irenic visits, this ancient and unbroken practice of the Orthodox Church, are an opportunity to reaffirm the unity of the Orthodox Church accomplished in the Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God the Father, that is, that unity be renewed by the common celebration of the Holy Liturgy. At the same time, irenic visits represent a confirmation of a living and authentic community of Orthodox peoples. Brotherly cooperation, mutual support and bond of love between the two sister Churches, their two Primates and Orthodox peoples are certainly an integral part and fruit of this visit.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa

The Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa is the second in rank of the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, which in their totality constitute the Orthodoxy, one of the three essential doctrines of Christianity, along with the Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Located in Alexandria of Egypt, its spiritual jurisdiction spreads throughout the African continent, which is accounted as a single geographical Church region.

In terms of ecclesiastical status regarding the Orthodox Patriarchs, the Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa is the second in hierarchy, after the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and holds the historical title “His Divine Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of the Great City of Alexandria, Libya, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, All Egypt and All Africa, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Prelate of Prelates, the Thirteenth of the Apostles and Judge of the Universe”. On 9 October 2004, the Synod of the Patriarchal Throne has unanimously elected Theodoros II (born Nikolaos Horeftakis) as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa. After his election the Egyptian State officially awarded to him the Egyptian nationality and granted him special passport in order to facilitate his international travels.  

The Patriarchate of Alexandria has a history of two thousand years in Egypt and in Africa. According to the Church tradition the Apostle and Evangelist Mark is considered to be the Founder and first Bishop of the Alexandrian Church. Saint Mark arrived to Alexandria in 43 AD, the year which is counted for the foundation year of the Alexandrian Church.       

During the first centuries of the Christian era, the Patriarchate of Alexandria played a decisive role regarding the crystallization of Christian teaching’s fundamental principles and Christianity’s worldwide diffusion. Key factor to this effect was the famous Catechetical School of Alexandria, which has produced men of great spiritual caliber, such as Pantainos, Clement, and Origen. In parallel the emergence, development and systematization of monasticism, either in its anchoretic, or in its coenobitic form, contributed through discipline and paradigm to the establishment of Christian faith, as well as to the final configuration of monasticism universally.   

Under the Arab rule (641-1250) and the Mamluk administration (1250-1517) the Patriarchate experienced difficulties on the one hand due to the Orthodox flock’s shrinkage, and on the other hand due to paucity of resources. The Patriarchate gradually began to recover after the Ottoman conquest (1517), showing special concern for the pastoral care and the material support of the scattered Orthodox flock within Africa, and developing from time to time earnest diplomatic activity with the aim of securing the international protection of the Patriarchal Throne.

The favorable conditions created in Egypt by Muhammad Ali and his dynasty (1805-1952), the installation of numerous Orthodox Christians and the formation of dynamic Orthodox communities in Egypt, and from there to all around the North and East Africa, put the Patriarchate in orbit of regeneration and redevelopment. Initially the Patriarchate, through reviving the ancient synodical system, re-established to a great extent its geographical jurisdiction, as it was before the Arab conquest. Subsequently the Patriarchate addressed itself to the whole African Continent, appealing to every African, beyond borders, races, and colors, and moreover with respect to the mores, customs and traditions of Africa.

His Beatitude Theodoros II Pope and Patriarch of Alexandia and All Africa Biography

His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Afica (born Nicholas Horeftakis), was born in Crete in 1954, where he completed his schooling. He is a graduate of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School of Athens and holds a degree from the Theological Faculty of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. He also studied History of Art, Literature and Philosophy in Odessa in Russia. During the years 1975-1985 he served as Archdeacon and then as Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Lambis and Sfakion, where he developed a significant preaching, pastoral and philanthropic activities. Having been called back to the Ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria by the late Patriarch Nicholas VI, he became Patriarchal Exarch of the Throne in Russia, based in Odessa between 1985-1990, where he established the Hellenic Cultural Institution and the Philikis Eterias Museum.

In 1990 he was consecrated Bishop of Cyrene and was appointed Patriarchal Representative of Parthenios III in Athens (1990-1997), whom he accompanied on his missionary travels throughout the African Continent as well as to international Interfaith and Theological Assemblies. In 1997 he was appointed as Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria by the late Patriarch Petros VII. In  September of the same year he was elected Metropolitan of Cameroon. During his tenure there he developed significant missionary activity. He built churches, schools and clinics, discreetly helping many Africans and Greeks. In 2002 ha settled at the Holy Metropolis in Zimbabwe where he established 4 Missionary centres in the capital Harare, a Hellenic Cultural Centre able to accommodate 400 delegates, 2 large Missionary Centres in Malawi, housing Clinics, technical schools and nursery schools. With the assistance of the Greek Parliament he renovated the “Greek Square” (School-Church-Vicarage) in Beira, Mozambique. He also laid the foundations for churches and contributed to the establishment of Hellenic Communities in Botswana and Angola.

On 9th October 2004 he was unanimously elected by the Hierarchs of the Alexandrian Throne as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. His Enthronement took place on 24th October 2004 at the Holy Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Alexandria, in the presence of many Primate and Representatives of all the Churches, the Cultural and Political Leaders of Greece and Egypt and thousands of Christians. The general missionary activities of His Beatitude, as well as his sweet and gentle character, are the reason for the love of all our African brothers and sisters for him, as well as of the Greeks and Arabs of Egypt and all Africa.