The highest distinction of Knight-Officer of the National Orders of the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville was awarded on 31st January 2020 to the His Eminence Panteleimon Metropolitan of Brazzaville and Gabon, following the decision of His Excellency the President of the Republic Mr. Denis Sassou N’guesso, published in the Government Gazette.
During the ceremony of decorating His Eminence, which took place in the Grand Chancellery of the Presidency of the Republic, in the capital Brazzaville, after reading his biography, as well as the relevant Presidential Decree, His Excellency Mr. Norben Okiokoutina, Grand Chancellor of the National Order of the Republic, said among other things during his address: “…His Eminence, coming from Greece, the country that gave birth to democracy and developed philosophical thought, put all his powers and abilities at the disposal of our country, so that with intelligence, prudence, effort and many struggles, not only the Congolese Orthodox Church could grow, but also that our homeland could benefit… During the seven years of his Hierarchal tenure, he never stopped serving the unity of the people and benefiting the weaker social groups of citizens without discrimination. He placed special emphasis on education, prioritized the progress of the youth, honored the elderly, showed respect for our principles and values… We assure him of our love and respect…”.
This was followed by the awarding of the outstanding honorary distinction.
In his reply, His Eminence stated:
“It is with great emotion that we accept today this extraordinary and unexpected honor of Knight Officer of the National Orders of the Republic of the Congo and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this.
Our gratitude goes especially to His Excellency the President of the Republic Mr. Denis Sassou N’guesso, who had the courtesy to proceed with signing for our unworthiness the Presidential Decree No. 2018-422, published in the Government Gazette of the 26th November 2018, regarding the awarding of the highest honor of the Knight Officer of the National Orders of the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville for what we humbly offered to the country during our tenure as Primate from the year 2013 until today.
This highest distinction is a recognition of the multifaceted work that our Mother Church, the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa, performs sacrificially throughout the African continent, as well as the local Orthodox Church of Congo-Brazzaville, which has already completed 35 years of blessed existence and productive ministry in the wonderful country of the Republic of Congo.
Distinguished guests, dear brothers and sisters,
The Holy Metropolis of Brazzaville and Gabon, having in its spiritual jurisdiction the states of Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, today includes about 7,000 native Orthodox believers, maintains eight parishes in cities of the Congolese territory, the model school complex Primary School and High School under the name “Light of Nations” with 258 students, the model Orphanage “Saint Efstathios”, an institution officially recognized by the state and characterized by it as the best social institution in the country. In addition, it maintains the radio station “The Voice of Orthodoxy 96.8 FM”, which relays the resurrection message of Orthodoxy to our compatriots, being counted among the first in terms of listeners.
During our humble seven-year Hierarchal tenure (2013-2020), despite the multitude of difficulties and severe adversities, we were able, by the Grace of God, to proceed with the completion or construction of churches, the continuous improvement and smooth operation of the above-mentioned church institutions, the financial, material and moral support of state structures, for the benefit of our fellow citizens, such as hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, educational institutions, etc., the financial support of pupils and students, the offer of legitimate jobs to dozens of our fellow citizens, the practical support of our fellow human beings etc.
On the occasion of this highly honorable event for our unworthiness, we wish to express our immense gratitude to the Authorities of our country, who always respond with great love and willingness to every request of the Holy Metropolis of Brazzaville and Gabon. Our gratitude and respect are boundless towards His Excellency. Mr. Denis Sassou N’guesso President of the Republic and his wife the Honorable Mrs. Antoinette Sassou N’guesso, President of the “Congo Assistance” Foundation, great benefactor of the model Orthodox Orphanage “Saint Efstathios” in Dolisie. We also express our gratitude to the Excellency. Mr. Clément Mouamba, Prime Minister of the Congo and through him to the elected Members of the Government, as well as to the political, judicial, military and religious Authorities.
Finally, we express our lifelong gratitude to our Father and Benefactor, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria which we have been serving conscientiously for fifteen years, Missionary Associations and Societies, Holy Archdioceses and Metropolises, Monasteries, ecclesiastical and charitable organizations and individuals in Congo, Greece, Cyprus, Australia and throughout the world who financially, materially and morally support the missionary and humanitarian work of our local Church in the midst of a global financial crisis, creating bridges of acquaintance and friendship with the wonderful Congolese people. We also express our gratitude to the distinguished clergy, the valuable collaborators and the Christian faithful of our Holy Metropolis, bestowing on them this exceptional honorary distinction.
In closing, we assure you of the continuation of our fight to the last breath for the progress and illumination of the blessed country of the Congo, the country that we now love exceedingly and consider as our new homeland”.
The ceremony ended with a reception hosted by His Eminence in honour of the guests, including the representative of the Government, His Excellency Minister Mr. Emilienne Raoul, President of the country’s Economic Council, His Eminence the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See, His Excellency the Ambassador of Egypt Mr. Halem Hassan Kandit, the representative of the Russian Ambassador Mr. Sergey Belyaev, Director of the Russian Institute, the representative of the Ambassador of Gabon, the Esteemed Commander of the Guard, representatives of the military, judicial and religious Authorities, Orthodox clergy, the members of the Metropolitan Council, etc.
The ceremony was covered by state television Télé Congo, as well as the daily press.