AsiaNews is reporting that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has “announced his intention to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg over violations against the Orthodox community and its foundations, unjustly expropriated of lands and buildings by Ankara’s Direction for Religious Foundations.”
Speaking to faithful in St Georges’ Parish, close to the Byzantine walls of Istanbul, the Patriarch affirmed that the decision to go to the Strasbourg court was made by the Synod:
We have and you have come here to celebrate this religious ceremony in a parish that is facing many difficulties. Unfortunately it is not alone. The problem is that this parish and its community, as is the case with many other’s of the Church of Constantinople, have been abusively declared mazbut (occupied) by the Direction for Religious Foundations. This means that we cannot claim any rights to the management of the properties of this community, nor proceed with the election of its administrative board. As a result of this we have no right to manage that which was left to us by our forefathers. The only thing we are allowed to carry out in these places are religious functions. Unfortunately this is fate of this parish and many other parishes of the Church of Constantinople.
The Patriarch added that, in the courtyard of the Church where he spoke, a building which once housed the community’s school has been turned into a private gaming hall with the approval of Turkish authorities.
Read the backgrounders on the crisis threatening the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Web site of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle.