At midday on Wednesday, July 28 2021, His Eminence, Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia received His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin Atas of the Syrian Aramean Community, who was accompanied by his associate, Mr. Aydin Melkemichel, businessman.
His Eminence Benjamin had aexpressed his desire to visit Metropolitan Cleopas, given that a long time had passed since the two ecclesiastical figures had had the opportunity to meet due to the COVID-19 epidemic, so as to see the completed renovation work of the aforementioned Cathedral.
Archbishop Benjamin was received at the entrance of the church by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Bartholomew Iatridis, Cathedral Pastor, and the American young adults, Josef Candelario, his wife Effy, and Elaine Piniat, who have assumed the duty of assisting the Youth Department of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden, as well as Mrs. Fotini Batsela, the Cathedral Ladies Philoptochos Society President.
Immediately after the reception of the distinguished guests, a brief Doxology was chanted by Fr. Bartholomew and Mr. Candelario, at the end of which Metropolitan Cleopas addressed his guests with warm words, congratulating Archbishop Benjamin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his election, ordination, and enthronement as Archbishop of the Syrian Aramean Community of Sweden and presented him with a gift of an icon of the Mother of God. Archbishop Benjamin presented the Metropolitan with a wooden pectoral cross from Lebanon.
Metropolitan Cleopas emphasized the importance of the presence of Archbishop Benjamin in Scandinavia and congratulated him for his notable ministry, for the benefit of his flock and for the promotion of the dialogue amongst the Christian Churches in Sweden. The Metropolitan also prayed for his archiepiscopal ministry to be long and fruitful, conveying the cordial congratulations of His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for Archbishop Benjamin’s 25th anniversary.
Archbishop Benjamin began his responsorial address by glorifying the name of God. He then congratulated Metropolitan Cleopas for his work, because, in his words, the presence of Metropolitan Cleopas is a gift of God to Scandinavia, and he emphasized the bonds of sincere friendship and fraternity which have developed between them over the seven years since the enthronement of the latter in Stockholm, and he asked the Metropolitan to convey his respect to the “Patriarch of Patriarchs,” as he characteristically referred to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Also, he did not hesitate to express his marvel at the excellent quality of work done for the renovation of the St. George Cathedral.
After the Doxology, the addresses, and the exchange of gifts, there followed a tour of the different areas of the newly renovated Cathedral and the Museum of Hellenic-Christian Heritage for the Archbishop and his associate. Finally, Mr. Melkemichel offered lunch at a restaurant in the city in honor of the two hierarchs.