His Grace, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, made a pastoral visitation to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois area on January 27. The visit was multi-faceted. He began his visit with the celebration of Orthros and the Divine Liturgy at the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church in Champaign.
Following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace held a press conference at the parish with Democrat State Senator Michael Frerichs and Champaign Mayor Don Gerard. The matter at hand was a renewed coordinated at the passage of an Illinois state resolution demanding religious rights and freedom from the government of the Republic of Turkey for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These cries for freedom and liberty for the Patriarchate are not only or even primarily concerned with its headquarters in the Fanar district, but for all of its people, properties and institutions which have suffered under religious oppression of varying extremes since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Today, while relations have improved and the Turkish government seems receptive to making changes to its policies regarding the official status of the Ecumencial Patriarchate, the ultimate goal of complete religious freedom for the Orthodox minority in Turkey has not yet been achieved. The efforts being made in Illinois mirror those across the United States where 42 states have already passed the same resolution that Mr. Frerichs and his colleagues in the legislature plan to propose to the entire Senate.
After the news conference His Grace paid a visit to the Orthodox Christian Student Living Center where a meet-and-greet discussion took place with Mayor Gerard on issues of significance to young adults in general and Orthodox Christians in particular. Following the discussion, his Grace toured the facility with the Mayor.