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Exchange of Messages With Patriarch Athenagoras I.

January 24, 1964

[ Released January 24, 1964. Dated January 10, 1964 ]

Your Holiness:

I want to take the occasion of Mr. Sargent Shriver's visit to extend to you my warmest greetings. I know that Mr. Shriver will find his conversation with you a source of great inspiration.

These days following your return from Jerusalem are hopeful ones for all men. Americans of every religion have been deeply impressed by the spirit of brotherhood demonstrated in your historic meetings with Pope Paul. I have also been long acquainted with your personal efforts to promote Christian ideals and principles, especially during your years of devoted service in the United States. May the spirit of peace and brotherhood to which you are making such a momentous contribution be an example for the entire world.

Sincerely,

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

Note: The Patriarch's message, dated January 17, follows:

Dear Mr. President:

I wish to express my thanks for your beloved and deeply esteemed excellency's letter of the 10th, which also offered me the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and speaking with Mr. Sargent Shriver.

You have indeed a remarkable man at the head of this great organization, the Peace Corps, which is doing wonderful work of real charity in true reflection of the lofty Christian ideals and principles, which have always been the beacon and guide of the United States, and its people. The Peace Corps is a legacy to mankind worthy of your regretted predecessor.

It was most gratifying and encouraging to ascertain your interest in the meeting between His Holiness Pope Paul VI and myself. I think I can say that we were both equally moved by this meeting and the worldwide approval it received. This shows how deeply rooted is the spirit of brotherhood, an encouraging sign for all who are dedicated to the promotion of morality in the relations among both men and peoples.

I was profoundly touched by your mentioning my humble service in the United States. The eighteen years I spent in this God blessed country will always remain unforgettable to me.

May the Almighty inspire you in your duties toward the country and the whole of mankind.

God bless you, your gracious family and the wonderful people of the United States.
Yours sincerely,

PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS I

The President's message was delivered in person on January 11 by Sargent Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps. Mr. Shriver, on a tour of the Middle East, met with the Patriarch at his headquarters in Istanbul.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Exchange of Messages With Patriarch Athenagoras I. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240144

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