The ties between Eastern and Western Christianity were fully visible on Tuesday when the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America visited Utah’s top Roman Catholic leader.
Together, they – and representatives of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable – emphasized the importance of dialogue and the need for interfaith unity.
The meeting was part of the visit to Salt Lake City by the Greek Orthodox Bishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), the first trip to Utah by a Greek Orthodox archbishop since 2000, according to information from local Greek Orthodox leaders.
Tuesday evening’s reception was hosted by Bishop Oscar Solis, who leads more than 300,000 Roman Catholics in Utah, at the pastoral center of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
The group subsequently toured downtown Salt Lake City. Madeleine Cathedral.
In his remarks to the Interfaith Roundtable, Elpidophoros underlined the meaning and impact of dialogue in interfaith relations.
The word âdialogueâ in Greek generally refers to âan unusually diverse range of realities,â a definition which he says âresonates stronglyâ in an interfaith context.
âDialogue becomes the key,â he said, âin which we are all called to dissolve our divisions, to heal hatred, to foster resilience, to fight against prejudicesâ¦ [and] promote peace and reconciliation.
Elpidophoros said the Greek Orthodox Church recognizes differences but believes in cooperation and peace between religions. It really means listening to other points of view and accepting common values.
The real dialogue, Elpidophoros said, begins in families and communities.
âMake your faith, make your tradition richer,â he said. âWealth comes from ecumenical values [of] listen to others [and] to receive all that is good.
Solis said Catholics follow Pope Francis’ advice in creating human relationships with people of all other faiths.
These relationships âdefine the course of our vision and our mission as a Catholic community,â he said. âWe come from one God and we are all children of God. … and this is why we can easily see each other as brothers and sisters.
Muslim makes his own sacrifice
Elpidophoros especially thanked Zeynep Kariparduc, president of the Salt Lake City Interfaith Council and a Muslim woman, for attending the event when she could have celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, with her family and friends.
As a native of Turkey, Elpidophoros said he understood the importance – indeed the sacrifice – of Kariparduc missing part of the Islamic holiday by several days.
He presented him with a silver medallion made in Istanbul that depicts Abraham or Ibrahim (a revered prophet in Christianity, Islam and Judaism) and his wife Sarah harboring three angels.
He also presented Solis with a silver cross made in Istanbul.
Kariparduc said people of different faiths should get to know each other so that they can better practice their own faith.
Tuesday night’s meeting was important, she said, because as religious leaders come to an agreement, so will their followers.
âWithout the other, we cannot create a diverse society,â she said. âReligious leaders play a crucial role in establishing[ing] peaceful societies.
“Keeping our identity alive”
In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Elpidophoros said it was important for him to visit every state and parish in the United States
In Salt Lake City, he said, there are two big parishes, “so we had to come.”
Although New York’s Greek Orthodox community is present across the country, Elpidophoros said these members have a lot in common with their brothers and sisters in Salt Lake City. Many of them have ancestors who came to the United States to pursue the American dream; they pray, go to school and participate in cultural events together.
âThe church is for us always the place where we keep our identity aliveâ, he declared, â… [our] cultural, linguistic and religious identity.
At the same time, said Elpidophoros, each parish adapts to its state and community in different ways. That is why he wants to know first-hand the needs and expectations of each parish.
Other appointments await you
This week’s historic visit to Elpidophoros comes as the Utahns mark the entry of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley 174 years ago.
It is “a bit unprecedented” for an archbishop to visit a place for almost a week, the archbishop said. Rev. Archimandrite George Nikas, the presiding priest of the Great Salt Lake Greek Orthodox Church. “So we are very excited and very honored to have this happen.”
Throughout his visit, Elipidophoros met with a number of senior government and religious leaders.
He is scheduled to meet with Governor Spencer Cox on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning with the ruling First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. He is due to meet with Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, on Saturday.
The Archbishop will also spend time in the Greek Orthodox churches of the Wasatch Front, including Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake City, Prophet Elias in Holladay, St. Anna in Sandy, and the Church of the Transfiguration in Ogden. .
Nikas said he and other Greek Orthodox leaders in Utah would brief Elpidophoros on the community’s philanthropic work, as well as the progress of building the church’s proposed $ 300 million Greek town around the cathedral. of the Holy Trinity.
Nikas said Elpidophoros, who moved to his new post in 2019, is from Istanbul and a longtime theology professor. He made headlines last year when he attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Brooklyn.
âIt is our moral duty and our obligation to defend the sanctity of every human being. We have faced a pandemic of serious physical illness, but the spiritual illness in our country runs even deeper and must be healed with actions as well as words, âhe told Greek journalist at the time. “And so, I will continue to stand on the sidelines with all those who are committed to preserving peace, justice and equality for every goodwill citizen, regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity. . “