Patriarch Ilia’s response was brief, but ever so wise in its simplicity: “Yes. But this is what we all know that we should be doing. We all know that we should help the children.”
The great patriarch didn’t tell attendants of the meeting to repent, nor did he call on them to change religions. The wise and Holy Father focused instead on what good people everywhere already agree on. We all know that we should help the children.
After blessing Ele Lembra’s Program Chance, a Georgian accredited non-government organization to help orphans and other disadvantaged children, the meeting ended. At that time, two monks helped the old patriarch to his feet. Ilia took John M. Simmons, Director of Ele Lembra, by the hand, looked into his eyes and spoke in Simmons’ native English. He repeated his words three times: “Thank you. Thank you very, very much.”