The Alexandrion Foundation has hosted the delegation of the Saint Andrew Order, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on their religious freedom mission to Romania
Mr. Nawaf Salameh, Founding Chairman of the Alexandrion Group and The Alexandrion Foundation: „I wish that Romania becomes a role model of religious freedom for other countries”
The Alexandrion Foundation, part of the Alexandrion Group has hosted a delegation of Greek Orthodox Christians from the United States, part of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that visited Romania on a religious freedom mission. The visit is part of a tour in the Southeastern Europe from June 8 to June 19, 2022, during which the Archons and their associates will meet with some of the key religious and political leaders of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to discuss Orthodox solidarity and freedom of religion issues and to explain the mission of the Archons, underscoring Orthodoxy’s ethnic richness and respect for local cultures, and above all its universal, transcendent appeal. They also hope to foster stronger connections among Orthodox communities in the USA and the Mother Church in Constantinople and among Orthodox countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus based on strong shared commitment to Orthodox faith and traditions.
The delegation includes Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order; Judge B. Theodore Bozonelis, the Order’s National Vice Commander; Father Alexander Karloutsos, Spiritual Advisor of the Order; Archon Candidate Nawaf Salameh, Founding Chairman of the Alexandrion Group and the Alexandrion Foundation; Archon John Mindala; and Nicholas S. Kass, Executive Director for International Corporate Affairs, Alexandrion Group, along with an accompanying delegation consisting of Dr. Maria A. Limberakis and Mrs. Helen Bozonelis.
The mission began in Romania on June 9th. The delegation met with Mr. Sergiu Nistor, Presidential Counsellor, Department for Culture, Religious Affairs and Ethnic Minorities, His Grace Varlaam Ploieșteanul, assistant bishop to Patriarch Daniel of All Romania and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Mr. Mircea Abrudean, Head of the Chancellery of Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, Mrs. Irina-Dumitrița Solomon, Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister and David Muniz, Charge d’Affaires Ad-Interm at the US Embassay in Romania. On the evening of June 9th the delegation also attended the Queen’s Birthday Party, organized by the British Embassy in Bucharest, which provided a good opportunity for the Archons and their associates to meet with Romanian representatives from politics, business environment, the press, and more.
A strong supporter of religious freedom and open dialogue among interfaith communities, the Alexandrion Foundation has facilitated the meetings of the delegation in Romania and promoted its mission and messages in the public space.
Mr. Nawaf Salameh, Founding Chairman of the Alexandrion Group and the Alexandrion Foundation said: „The Alexandrion Group, the Alexandrion Foundation, my family and myself have been supporting religious freedom for more than 30 years, getting involved in initiatives and projects that mediate the dialogue among different religious. Constantin Brancoveanu, the patron of the Foundation was a promoter of religious freedom himself and we have always aimed to follow in his footsteps and play a role that is similar to the one that he played 350 years ago in the religious world. I was born and raised in a family with multiple religions, also my two eldest sons are Greek Othodox and my youngest is Maronite Catholic. For me, religious freedom is a human right that is as important as the right to life. And I wish that one day Romania becomes a role model of religious freedom for other countries.
This is the reason why I was so happy to invite and receive the visit of the delegation of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to support them in their mission. I am equally proud to have been nominated Archon candidate and I look forward to joining the order. Saint Andrew, the spiritual patron of Romania, was born in Syria in a village that is located 16 kilometers away from my home town, Marmarita, so at spiritual level everything is connected and makes sense to me”.
Talking about the role of the Archons, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order, said: „The single mission of the Archons, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is to fight for religious freedom for the Mother Church in Constantinopole and for all the children of Abraham, all faiths. We have programs in each of the 50 states promoting religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We work with the State Department, the Congress, the White House and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.”
Dr. Limberakis explained that the selection process of an Archon is very rigurous. Each candidate requires the blessings Of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the ultimate approval of His Holiness The Ecumenical Patriarch: „An Archon is nominated by another Archon or clergyman. They nominate the individual to the governing body of the Order Saint Andrew called the National Council. We have a selection committee that vets each Archon candidate. We look at what is their position on the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we receive letter of recommendations from priests and two other Archons. We also look at the candidate’s willingness to give their time and talent to the Order. We have teams of archons who are experts in legal, accounting, marketing or branding.”
Regarding his background and mission with the Order of Saint Andrew and also about the visit to Romania, Father Alexander Karloutsos, the Spiritual Advisor of the Order said: „I have been very blessed to do what I do for the Church. I am blessed to be an Orthodox priest. I am blessed to be in this great land of Romania, with great spiritual traditions which I admire very much. The famous Romanian writer and philosopher Mircea Eliade was one of the people who brought Orthodoxy into USA, but from a philosophical point of view and I have a great respect for him.”
Judge B. Theodore Bozonelis, the Order’s National Vice Commander concluded: „We want to thank Alexandrion Group, the Alexandrion Foundation and Mr. Nawaf Salameh for hosting us. We appreciate his business because part of what we are doing here is releated to business. We are also in Romania because of the strategic importance of Romania with respect to its position within the EU, as well as its strategic position with respect to the Balkan area and with respect to Romanian Orthodox issues. We want to ensure that values that you have in Romania as well as in other countries continue and religious freedom should be part of those traditional values. We were at the Romanian Patriarchate and talked about the fact that we want to develop a continuous relation, we do not want this to be just one visit. We also visited the United States Embassy in Romania and we talked about issues such as human trafficking which we are all concerned about, Ukrainian refugees and we have to thank Romania for all they have done for the refugees, not only through the Patriarchy, but through the Government. Through our relationships with the US Government we think we can support this partnership”.
On the evening of Sunday, June 12th, the delegation proceeded to Bulgaria and will then visit Greece being set to arrive in New York City on June 19th.