Phanar Gives Biden Highest Award

September 18, 2015  (Source:

A firestorm of controversy has erupted in the Orthodox Church over its Ecumenical Patriarch planning to honor vice president and possible presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Vice President Biden is scheduled to receive the highest award bestowed by the Greek Orthodox Church, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. The award will be presented at the organization’s annual banquet Saturday, October 17, at the New York City Hilton Hotel.

The award is a kind of “thanks” to Biden for two publicized visits to Istanbul, where Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew leads a very small cadre of Orthodox bishops. The Ecumenical Patriarch is a figurehead leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians; he has no authority over any other Orthodox bishop.

In December 2011, Biden became the first sitting vice president to visit what is called “the Phanar,” which means “lantern” and refers to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s base of operations. In November 2014, Biden returned for a second official visit.

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