What is it about His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
, spiritual leader of 1.5 million of the U.S.A.'s Eastern Orthodox Christians
, that strikes a particular chord in your Dragonmaster? Big beard, black robes, trusty staff, cool demeanor --- and lately, a whole lot of doctorates, the most recent of them having come from Bridgeport, Connecticut's Sacred Heart College
. Their Doctorate for Demetrios is Doctorate of Humane Letters
. They gave him that because six years ago, when His Eminence was enthroned, he set three goals for himself: dynamic faith, unlimited love and unbreakable unity.
I believe that would be building, strengthening and expanding not only his own flock, but relationships with other Christians, Jews, and Muslims, among others. When he spoke at Sacred Heart on Wednesday afternoon, he emphasized the importance of not interrupting the dialogue with the Vatican
--- recalling that legendary symbolic embrace that occured in the 1960s, when Pope Paul VI and then Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras came together to forgive each other's faiths for the basically not nice things their respective predecessors said about each other about 500 or so years before.
This guy Demetrios travels a lot more than Willie Nelson
does, I tell you! He's been to Chicago, L.A., Wilkes-Barre, PA, Orlando, Terre Haute, IN --- you name it, if there's a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese event going on, he's been in on it! And yes, he too has visited New Orleans, to provide what comfort he can those among his Nawluns flock devastated by Katrina. As of this writing, he's doing Pittsburgh. (No word yet on whether His Eminence will tailgate with the NFL's Steelers
.) He's also not sure where on his office wall back at Manhattan HQ he's gonna put his newest doctorate: "I forget exactly which wall right now," he told New York Daily News
Religion Editor Chuck Bell.
But hey, when you're a 77-year-old Archbishop, you've got bigger problems on your agenda. Starting with the deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the Mother Church in Istanbul
. Seems as though the Turkish Government's been seizing certain ecclesiastical property --- and, er, oh yeah, they still won't recognize Demetrios' Big Boss, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
. Basically, the Turks wanna nationalize Bartholomew's church. Well, Bartholomew obviously doesn't want that, so, Demetrios is working hard to help make sure they don't touch the merchandise, as it were.
On their way to Bridgeport, though, Demetrios' convoy drove along I-95 without a hitch. There was a brief delay, however, so they stopped over at an outdoor market and did some food shopping. "The apples looked good, so we bought some," explains Nikki Stephanopoulos, Chief Spokeswoman for His Eminence (and mom of George
). Look, even if you're the spiritual leader of 1.5 million Orthodox Christians in America, you still gotta eat, you know!