His Holiness Aram I was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens. In awarding the degree, the Rector of the University, speaking for the Governing Board of the University, praised His Holiness for his leadership role in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and, referring to his numerous publications, for his work as a leading theologian.
After the award ceremony, the Rector invited His Holiness to the podium.
In his address, the Catholicos thanked the University for this honor and then spoke on the topic “The Christian Presence in the Middle East.” Describing the situation in the Middle East, he said that Christians, who are determined to act as full citizens in the region and to contribute actively to its democratization process, refuse to be considered simply as a minority. In view of the important role of religion in society, His Holiness Aram I underlined the urgency of dialogue between the monotheistic religions. He then identified five priorities for the Churches: strengthening Christian unity, reviewing and reorganizing Christian education programmes, strengthening the Churches’ work in diakonia and service, giving a new impetus to ecumenical relations and building stronger ties with diaspora communities. His Holiness Aram I concluded his speech by inviting the government and Church of Greece, in view of their historic ties with the Middle East, to play an active role in strengthening the local Orthodox Churches of the region.
After receiving the congratulations and good wishes of the audience, His Holiness spoke on Greek Television.