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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at dinner for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Washington, D.C., October 22, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say how very pleased and honored I am to welcome all of you here this evening to join me in greeting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. I might add that it is very pleasant to host a guest whose higher authority is unlikely to call in with new instructions during the meal.
(Laughter.)
The visit of His All Holiness to the United States is a major event - not simply for the Orthodox community, but for all those who find in spiritual faith a source of personal courage, community identity and moral inspiration and healing for our nation and the world.
We live in an era whose only constant seems at times to be constant change. It is an unsettling time in which progress requires that we all assume multiple roles. Diplomats, for example, must do better at understanding the impact of religious faith on what we do. And I suspect that spiritual leaders must find themselves practicing the art of diplomacy more often than perhaps they would like.
But as we strive to cope with change, we are deeply grateful for what has not changed, and for those leaders who bring eternal truths to bear on the new challenges we face. Your All Holiness, your vigorous spiritual leadership is a precious gift to Orthodox Christians in America and around the world, and a signal contribution to the cause of peace and understanding. You are promoting reconciliation among the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, and harmony among Christians, Muslims and Jews. You are a pioneer in bringing religious leaders and scientists together to protect and preserve the Black Sea and all the good Earth that God has given us. You have called for not only a pollution-free world, but a healing of nations as well.
This is your first visit to the United States as Ecumenical Patriarch, but your message has deep resonance here; for our citizens, although of many faiths, are joined in the conviction that all people should have the right to choose, proclaim and practice their religion free from harassment and free from fear.
We also believe that religion should be one of the forces that bring people together, rather than drive them apart. We have been enriched beyond measure by those among us who have had the courage and grace to live their life in faith.
Your All Holiness, you have pointed to our common concern for the future of the planet we share, and called each of us to shoulder the burden of his or her own responsibility and not to remain silent. In that spirit, let me propose a toast.
Whether building harmony in our own communities, working to preserve the environment, or promoting peace around the world, may each of us find the faith to meet your challenge and the courage to cast our bread upon the waters. To Your All Holiness.
(Applause.)
I would like to thank all the religious people who are here tonight for having said that they would pray for me. I need a lot of prayers, and I feel well blessed - and especially by His All Holiness, whom I would now like to ask to come and speak to all of you.
(Applause.)

[End of Document]

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