Your Beatitude, Pope and Patriarch of the Ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II, it is with great pleasure, honor and respect that we welcome you, our Father and Patriarch, carrier and leader of the earliest Christian Church in the land of Africa, the Orthodox Church, whose founder is the Apostle and Evangelist Mark and which dates back to 60 AD.
However, Venerable Father, the value of the Orthodox Church is estimated not only by its antiquity but also by its ability as the true Body of Christ to take flesh at every moment of human history, in every place and every language, for every human being who is thirsty to know the sacred truth, the Savior Jesus Christ.
You came near us, our Father, the Patriarch of Love, the experienced Missionary, in order to strengthen us, to give us your blessing, to advise us on our course of life, to share with us your love that overflows in every direction, to wipe out the tears of the orphaned children of Africa, to give us a little light from the light of your face, for this is what you do. You do not exercise your authority from the comfort of your own office, but you are always on the move, like the thirteenth of the Apostles, running throughout Africa to bring joy, peace, love, courage, to open schools, build health clinics, establish churches and preach the word of the Gospel, which becomes bread for the hungry, water for the thirsty, an open embrace for the desperate and tired contemporary man.
Your Beatitude, when, I came to Tanzania 15 years ago, a Roman Catholic Abbess welcomed me telling me that in this country there was peace! Indeed, Holy Father, after so many years of humble ministry here, I can assure you that the people of Tanzania are very peaceful, perhaps the most peaceful of Africa, living in a land where everyone with love and respect can worship the God they believe in, without fanaticism or bigotry, without conflicts or hatred; for making wars in the name of God and religion is the most absurd thing to do on earth!
As our beloved Saint St. Nektarios of Pentapolis says, «meekness, religious tolerance and purity of manners, are the qualities possessed by the true Christian.»
So, please, Holy Father, allow me, besides Your Beatitude, to thank wholeheartedly all those who came with us today to welcome you, honor with their presence our Distinguished Visitor, and affirm once again that wherever there is unity and peace, there is love, which is our God, the God we worship. Venerable Pope and Patriarch, may the Lord give you many blessed and joyous years! Amen!
† Agathonikos of Arusha