BY NIDIA DIAZ—Granma daily staff writer—
FIDEL Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, welcomed His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church to our country. Afterwards, official talks took place in a respectful and cordial atmosphere. During the meeting, the patriarch expressed gratitude for the invitation to visit our nation and the warm welcome that he had received.
The official reception ceremony took place at the Palace of the Revolution before the Cuban and Patriarchy flags.
On one side of the room stood the delegations representing Cuba and the Patriarchy at the welcoming ceremony and both the host and honored guest greeted and conversed with those present.
Representing Cuba were Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power; Carlos Lage, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers; Abel Prieto, minister of culture minister; Felipe Pérez Roque, minister of foreign affairs; José R. Miyar Barruecos, secretary of the Council of State; Caridad Diego, head of the Religious Affairs Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party; Eusebio Leal, historian of the City of Havana; and Carlos Valenciaga, member of the Council of State.
On behalf of the Patriarchy, His Eminence Atenagoras, Archbishop for Central America and the Caribbean, together with other leaders of the Orthodox Church, were present at the ceremony.
Shortly after 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday January 21, Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in Cuba on an Olympic airline flight and was met by our president as well as Cuban religious and government leaders.
The distinguished visitor was welcomed by a group of Cuban children who presented him with a beautiful bouquet of flowers to demonstrate our people’s respect for his visit.
More than one hundred followers from this church, especially invited from all parts of the world for the occasion, were waiting in the terminal area to welcome His Holiness on his arrival in Havana.
Today Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will continue the program planned for his visit, which ends on Monday.