His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was among several Orthodox Christian hierarchs who met with US President George Bush at the White House on Tuesday, July 9, 2002.
The one-hour meeting, called at the personal initiative of President Bush, was filled with “open, frank and honest discussion on a wide variety of topics,” said Metropolitan Theodosius, who was accompanied to the meeting by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor.
“President Bush discussed a wide range of topics, including terrorism, recent events in Russia and Serbia, the situation of the rising number of immigrants to the US, the status of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and contemporary moral issues,” Metropolitan Theodosius added. “In discussing his plans for faith-based initiatives, President Bush clearly demonstrated his deep commitment to reaching out to as many people as possible.”
The meeting opened in the Roosevelt Room, where in addition to Metropolitan Theodosius, President Bush welcomed His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; His Eminence, Metropolitan Christopher of the Serbian Orthodox Church; His Grace, Bishop Ilia of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America under the Ecumenical Patriarchate; His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Auxiliary to Archbishop Demetrios; and those accompanying the hierarchs. The President then led the guests to the Oval Office for further discussions.
“President Bush spoke fondly of his relationship with Russian President Putin, noting that he had visited his private chapel during his recent trip to Russia,” Metropolitan Theodosius said. “It was obvious that the President has a solid understanding of Orthodoxy in general and the issues facing the Orthodox Church throughout the world. He is clearly concerned about how rapidly changing world events effect Christianity in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular.”
Orthodox Christianity in North America traces its origins to the arrival of Orthodox missionaries in Kodiak, Alaska in 1794. Today there are an estimated three to four million Orthodox Christians throughout North America, organized into over 2000 parishes and communities throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. During the last decade, the number of Orthodox Christians in North America has steadily risen due to a growing number of converts and an increase in the number of new immigrants from traditionally Orthodox countries.