Fordham University Bestows Highest Honor on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Fordham University conferred yesterday its highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate of Laws, to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew "for his remarkable service to the world community and for the principles that he continues to uphold."

The solemn and historic conferral ceremony was held in the University Church at the Rose Hill Campus in Bronx, NY and was attended by many hundreds of people, University officials and trustees, professors and students, clergy of the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Churches, honored guests and hundreds of faithful.

"It is a grace to welcome your All Holiness," said Stephen Freedman, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, acting as the Master of Ceremonies. His Excellency Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York offered the invocation.

"AXIOS" (meaning "worthy" in Greek), was exclaimed several times by Fordham University President, the Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J., as he highlighted the Ecumenical Patriarch's work in the advancement of ecumenical dialogue, his devotion to the promotion of peace and his dedication to the cause of environmentalism.

His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan, Papal Delegate of His Holiness Benedict XVI conveyed the welcome and brotherly greeting of the Pope and in his comments underlined the importance of dialogue which one day will lead to becoming one as "it is the wish of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Fr. McShane read the Citation and along with, John N. Tognino, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees conferred to His All Holiness the honorary degree. The Fordham University Choir sung the Ecumenical Patriarch's Polychronion (a prayer hymn for health and many productive years).

His All Holiness delivered a very important address entitled "Discerning God's Presence in the World" in which he emphasized "the primacy of ecumenicity or the value of opening up in a world that expects us ‘always to be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks us to give the reason for the hope within us.'" (1 Peter 3:15) In concluding the address, His All Holiness summarized the theme of his remarks:

"Opening up to the heart; opening up to the other; and opening up to creation. Our age demands no less than openness from all of us. We hear it stated often that our world is in crisis. Yet, never before in history have human beings had the opportunity to bring so many positive changes to so many people simply through encounter and dialogue." (see full text below)

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America offered a thoughtful and edifying benediction at the conclusion of the ceremonies.