Event of “SYNYPARXIS” at the Palace of the Old Parliament

Yesterday, Thursday March 9 2023, an event was held at the Old Parliament House for the Governing Committee of the non-profit organization “SYNYPARXIS – ECUMENICAL PROGRAM FOR REFUGEES” of the Church of Greece, during which the commemorative volume for the 45 years of the Church of Greece’s contribution to immigrants, refugees and returnees was presented. The book was written by the General Director of “SYNYPARXIS”, Archimandrite Pantheleimon Papasynnefakis.

At the beginning of the event, a minute of silence was observed for the victims of the train accident in Tempi. Following that, His Eminence the President of “SYNYPARXIS”, Metropolitan of Ilion, Acharnes, and Petroupolis, Mr. Athinagoras, gave the opening speech, in which he reflected on the history of the organization and the work that has been accomplished during its 45 years of operation.

He mentioned that the work of “SYNYPARXIS”, which is the support of our fellow human beings in need, is not limited to the narrow boundaries of philanthropy or comforting speech, but with respect to the person and uniqueness of the “other one”, with study and exploration, with scientific approach, and with complete transparency and adherence to the required procedures, designs and implements programs, seeking to make refugees and immigrants protagonists of their own stories. “For the Church of Greece,” he emphasized, “every person who is forced to be uprooted from their land, every person who arrives in our land tired and without rest, seeking a better life, is a person we must support.”

Then the Most Reverend read the greeting of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Mr. Hieronymus, who emphasized that the Church has no right to remain silent about what torments people or to be indifferent when the human person is humiliated, but it must glorify God, making His presence and love evident in every circumstance, where pain and trials wound or threaten to destroy hope. “The work that the Church is carrying out through ‘SYNYPARXIS’,” His Beatitude pointed out in particular, “is a valid, responsible, and systematic work based on the dedication and knowledge of all those who worked and work in it, a work that is carried out with transparency and control”

After the brief greeting of the Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum, Ms. Sofia Voultepsi, a video was shown presenting the lives of children after their hosting by “SYNYPARXIS”. One of them, Muhammad, described his life after reaching adulthood, in his own house, and the help provided by “SYNYPARXIS” even in his professional restoration. Other children spoke from abroad, where they now reside, after the care of “SYNYPARXIS” to reunite with their families.

Subsequently, both Dr. Torsten Moritz, Secretary General of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, and Mr. Hercules Moskof, Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, referred in their speeches to the work and interventions of the Church of Greece regarding refugee and migration issues in Greece and the European Union.

The General Director of the State Scholarships Foundation and Professor at the University of Athens, Mariza Fountopoulou, presented the commemorative volume for the 45 years of the Church of Greece’s contribution to immigrants, refugees, and returnees, noting that it is a work that encompasses theology, philosophy, social issues, education, history, and accountability.

The event was concluded by the Director General of “SYNYPARXIS,” Archimandrite Pantaleimon Papasynnefakis, who initially emphasized that the basic elements of the project are transparency, financial control, adherence to strict protocols, the establishment of additional rules that ensure the protection of our children and partners, as well as public accountability.

He thanked all those who contributed and continue to contribute to the success of the project, with a special mention of the members of the Governing Board of the Non-Profit Company. Particularly thanking his Eminence the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Mr. Hieronymus, he emphasized that he gave the Board and the collaborators of “SYNYPARXIS” a single instruction, which he repeated a few days ago to the children hosted by him at the Archbishopric Palace: “We do not ask anything from these children. Only to allow us to heal their wounds and help them make their dreams come true. To be able to remember, wherever they are, that some people here in Greece opened their arms and supported them. And let this be your concern every time you are informed about their progress.”

The event was illuminated by the presence of: His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias and Almyros, His Eminence Metropolitan of Guinea, Exarch of Patriarch Alex/ia, Georgios and the Members of the Managing Committee of SYNYPARXIS, His Eminence Metropolitan Athinagoras of Ilion, Acharnes and Petroupolis, His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia and Philadelphia, His Eminence Metropolitan Timothy of Thessaliotis and Fanariophersalon, and Rapporteur Athanasia Kotsiatou. The Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum, Sophia Voultepsi. Members of Parliament, Michalis Katerinis, head of the PASOK party, George Koumoutsakos, and Dimitrios Kairidis. The Archimandrites Nikodimos Farmakis, General Director of EKYO, Arch. Barnabas Theoharis, chief secretary of the IAA, Arch. Nikodimos Athanasios, chief secretary of the Holy Metropolis of Ilion, Jacob Andriopoulos, General Archbishopric Commissioner of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, Timothy Iliakis, General Archbishopric Commissioner of the Holy Metropolis of Ionian Islands, Ioannis Raptis, General Archbishopric Commissioner of the Holy Metropolis of Ilion and Petros Petrakos, secretary to the head secretary. The Most Excellent Ambassadors: of Ukraine to Greece, Mr. Shutenko Sergii, of the United Kingdom to Greece, Mr. Matthew Lodge, of Switzerland to Greece, Mr. Stefan Estermann and on behalf of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ms. Cees Van Beek. The General Secretary for Reception of Asylum Seekers, Mr. Emmanuel Logothetis, the head of the International Organization for Migration in Greece, Mr. Gianluca Rocco, the representative of the Regional Governor of Attica, the Mayor of New Philadelphia, Mr. Ioannis Vourgos, and the representative of the Mayor of Athens, Eleftherios G. Skiadas. The President of the Hellenic Red Cross, Dr. Antonios Augerinos. The Director of the Greek Council for Refugees, Mr. Lefteris Papagiannakis, representatives of NGOs Nostos, Metadrasi, Social EKAV, Family Support Center, Childhood Trauma Response, ZEUXIS, journalist Mr. D. Verykios, actor Mr. Angelos Papadimitriou, and a crowd of people.

From the Press Office of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.

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