The prize was given in recognition of his tireless efforts to promote Christian unity around the globe.
Patriarch Theophilos, who spoke to Premier in January about his strong desire to see greater unity between Christians across the nations, received the honour from the Patriarch of Moscow at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in the Russian capital.
He used his acceptance speech to invite senior leaders from the Orthodox Church to his home in Jordan, so that they can address the need for greater unity between Orthodox Churches together.
As the leader of the Orthodox Christian community in the Holy Land, Patriarch Theophilos reminded a packed cathedral of Christ’s prayer for the Church in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father…I ask…that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Patriarch Theophilos called on Christians everywhere to practice unity, not only for the sake of the Church but also for our all too broken and divided world.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has recently risen to international prominence, both because of the Patriarch’s increasing role in church unity, and because of the pressures faced by Christians within the Holy Land.
Figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury, King Abdullah II, the Prince of Wales, and His Holiness the Pope have all expressed support for the work of Patriarch Theophilos and his fellow church leaders.
The churches of the Holy Land have enjoyed much greater unity over the last three years however they face daily problems due to political challenges, economic difficulties and the ongoing religious tensions int the region.
Patriarch Theophilos is the 141st person to hold this position. He closed his address, quoting his predecessor, the apostle James, who was the brother of Jesus and the first leader of the Church in the Holy Land.
“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”