November 10, 1997
Volume 50, No. 12
Orthodox patriarch receives President's Medal from Chace
His All Holiness Bartholomew, ecumenical patriarch of the Orthodox Christian Church, paid a visit to Emory Oct. 31 to receive the third President's Medal ever awarded.
Bartholomew, spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, is touring the United States, making stops in 16 cities during a monthlong commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Holy Archdiocese of America. Flanked by an entourage that included security personnel, a touring press corps and a host of fellow Orthodox clergy-including Archbishop Spyridon of America-the ecumenical patriarch arrived at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center in a motorcade of a dozen vehicles and walked with President Bill Chace up a red carpet into the WHSCAB Plaza.
"This is an extraordinary chapter in the life of Emory to be graced by your presence," Chace said in his introduction. "The art of educating succeeding generations cannot succeed without adequate measures of faith, hope and love. We are honored to greet you and recognize the significance of spiritual teachings."
Bartholomew is the 270th successor in a line of Orthodox leaders that stretches back to the apostle Andrew. He was appointed ecumenical patriarch in 1991 after the death of Patriarch Dimitrios.
"Emory University has been a beacon of progress and educational innovation in the academic world," Barthol-omew said. "This university's reputation is known far beyond this land. Its commitment to a moral and ethical use of the tools of human progress is well known to us. We are proud to receive this university's presidential gold medal."
Bartholomew spoke of the importance of religious traditions in providing a "moral compass" for an increasingly secular world. "Secularism is seen as being the only fair way of not imposing religion upon people against their will, and yet secularism's emptiness leaves the culture desiring a moral direction.
"We must not blame the culture of intellectual progress for the emptiness of our own souls," he continued. "If we look to secular culture to feed our psyches, we will starve. If the diverse peoples of a culture look to the memories of their faith traditions, whatever they may be, they will be sustained; they will be fed the food of God's spiritual knowledge."
A host of prominent Emory leaders, friends and trustees attended the award luncheon, including John Skandalakis, Chris Carlos Distinguished Professor and director of the Centers for Surgical Anatomy and Technique. Skandalakis gave the initial welcome to Barthol-omew and introduced several speakers who paid respect to the patriarch before his speech.
"I remember growing up, hoping that one day I would be able to meet my patriarch," Skandalakis said. "Here I am now, next to him, talking with him in respect and love."
Evangeline Papageorge, professor emerita in the School of Medicine who first began teaching at Emory in 1929, said, "This is the first time my patriarch has visited my church, and now it is a greater joy because he comes to the school which has been my home throughout my professional life."
Chace commissioned the President's Medal in 1995 to honor indviduals whose impact on the world has enhanced the dominion of peace or has enlarged the range of cultural achievement. The only two previous recipients are the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet and President Carlos Menem of Argentina.
Skandalakis also had gifts for the patriarch, Chace, medical school Dean Thomas Lawley and theology school Dean Kevin LaGree. "You know, Mr. President, be afraid of Greeks when they give gifts. I'm in the afternoon of my life and the springtime of my senility, so let me present you with this," he said, handing Chace a framed portrait of Alexander the Great.