July 22, 2014

Where Heaven Falls Prey to Thieves: The Plundering of Turkish Occupied Cyprus [VIDEO]

Area north of the Green Line is occupied

Source: Vimeo A short documentary about the extensive art theft that has taken place in North Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The theft has taken place with tacit or active approval from the Turkish army. The plunder not only served as a source of income for criminals in North Cyprus and shady antiquity dealers, it was also an act to eradicate the memory of Cyprus as a Christian country for almost two millenia. What has happened in the Turkish occupied zone constitutes pillaging of world cultural heritage and is a war crime according to several international conventions. … [Read more...]

Patsourakos: Turkey Must End Its Control of Northern Cyprus

Map of divided Cyprus

George Patsourakos, commentator on the AOI blog and editor of the Theology and Society blog, argues Turkey must end its occupation of Cyprus. Source: Theology and Society For the first time since Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus in 1974, it was revealed by a former Turkish general this week that Turks secretly and intentionally burned down at least one mosque on the island at that time, in order to encourage Turks to be more aggressive in fighting Greeks.Retired Turkish General Sabri Yirmibesoglu -- speaking in an interview about military strategy on Turkey's Haberturk TV channel -- admitted that Turks burned (at least) a mosque to increase animosity toward Greeks in Cyprus. The retired general added that for Turkey it was "a rule of war to engage in acts of sabotage made to look as if they were carried out by the enemy." … [Read more...]

Bare Ruined Choirs

Soon after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the roof of St. Andronikos church in Kythrea caved in and fell into its sanctuary. No one came by to clear the rubble, so there's a heap of ruins on the ground covered with tangled greenery. From where I stand, on top of that heap, I can see that the walls, once known for their frescoes, have been stripped white and are now marked with black and neon graffiti. In some places there remain a few painted figures, including ones of Saints Peter and Paul, but their faces are chiseled out and their bodies have been pockmarked by bullets. Cars roll by every so often, but the one persistent sound is the hum of bees coming from a smashed clerestory window. I came across this church off a road near the Agios Dimitrios crossing point on the Green Line, the boundary running through the island of Cyprus and keeping it cloven in two radically disparate parts: the free, government-controlled area of Cyprus, and the upper third of the sovereign … [Read more...]

Catholic-Orthodox meeting on Cyprus wraps up

See you next year in Vienna: According to a statement released by the dialogue commission Oct. 23, the commission's Orthodox members discussed "the negative reactions to the dialogue by certain Orthodox circles and unanimously considered them as totally unfounded and unacceptable, providing false and misleading information." The Orthodox delegates "reaffirmed that the dialogue continues with the decision of all the Orthodox churches and is pursued with faithfulness to the truth and the tradition of the church," said the statement released in Cyprus and at the Vatican. At the Catholic Mass Oct. 17, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and head of the Catholic delegation, "stressed that the spirit of humility and love should prevail in the work" of the commission. Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, host of the meeting, presided over the Orthodox Divine Liturgy Oct. 18. He said all the Orthodox churches are committed … [Read more...]

Hilarion and Chrysostomos meet on Cyprus issues

Archbishops Chrysostomos (left) and Hilarion

The Russian Orthodox influence in the Mediterranean grows. Source: Moscow Patriarchate. On 22 October 2009, the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk met with His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus. Taking part in the meeting that took place in Paphos, Cyprus, was Metropolitan Isaiah (Kykkotis) of Tamassos. They discussed a wide range of the problems of mutual interest in the atmosphere of fraternal understanding. Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk thanked the Primate of the Church of Cyprus for his care for the Russian-speaking flock living in Cyprus. Having noted that the need in spiritual care for the Russian-speaking population is increasing, he suggested that, following the established practice, the future clergymen of the Church of Cyprus should be sent to the theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church to learn the Russian language and the traditions of the Russian … [Read more...]

Report: Religious artifacts in Cyprus in ‘great peril’

A report in the Washington Times by Julia Duin: Religious artifacts on the divided island of Cyprus are in "great peril," according to a U.S. Helsinki Commission document to be released Tuesday afternoon. Thousands of Orthodox icons, manuscripts, frescoes and mosaics have been looted from churches, chapels and monasteries in northern Cyprus, ending up on international auction blocks, says the document, the result of a lengthy investigation by the Helsinki Commission and titled "Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus and Violations of International Law." A copy of the 50-page document was provided to The Washington Times in advance of a Tuesday press briefing and panel discussion on Capitol Hill. The panelists will include Charalampos Chotzakoglou, professor of Byzantine art and archaeology at Hellenic Open University in Patras, Greece; German art historian Klaus Gallas, who is a specialist on the international smuggling of art artifacts; and Michael … [Read more...]

Greeks losing interest in Hellenism

The anarchists that sank Greece into a near state of chaos late last year are now taking aim at the Church: Greece is seeing an unprecedented spate of terrorist attacks against churches. Among the churches that were hit, in one case during religious service, were the Athens Metropolitan Church, the Piraeus Metropolitan Church, and the Church of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki. Greek media have described these attacks, the likes of which Greece has not seen even when the country was under occupation, as a “declaration of war against the Church of Greece.” All of the bombs were defused in time and only one, at Agia Triada in Pireaus, caused minor damage. The organization “Conspiracy of the Nuclei of Fire – Commandos” along with “The Nihilist Faction” assumed responsibility for the attack and in a manifesto claimed “Religion is a mechanism of power that plays a particularly devious role in subjugating people.” Authorities in Greece are taking the attacks very seriously, especially in … [Read more...]

Bishop Hilarion: Ecumenical Patriarchate seeks to impose Roman Catholic model of primacy

From Interfax: Moscow Patriarchate disagrees with Constantinople desire to play special role in Orthodoxy MOSCOW (April 10) -- Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's external church relations department, has criticized the Constantinople Patriarchate's intention to control all church communities within the Orthodox diaspora. "I see the situation in the inter-Orthodox relations surrounding the Constantinople Patriarchate's claim to have some special role in the Orthodox Church as one of the key challenges today," Bishop Hilarion said at a press conference at the Interfax main office in Moscow on Friday. "What is happening is in fact an attempt to impose a model existing in the Catholic Church on the Orthodox Church to have as centralized church power as possible, with one bishop leading it as the head of the Ecumenical Church," he said. "There has never been such a model in the Orthodox tradition," Bishop Hilarion said. He … [Read more...]

Turkish film ‘Guz Sancisi’ sheds light on 1955 Istanbul pogrom

For the first time, a Turkish film has taken a serious look at the anti-Greek riots in Istanbul on Sept. 6-7, 1955, a horrific mob attack that triggered the rapid decline of the Greek Christian community -- at the time numbering some 120,000 to 135,000 people. Widespread destruction was wreaked on homes, businesses and Greek Orthodox Church property. Businesses and homes owned by Armenians and Jews were also targeted. An article in Today's Zaman, a Turkish paper, describes the film "Güz Sancısı," or "The Pain of Autumn," as a love story of Behçet and Elena, a Turkish man and a Greek woman, set against the tension that culminated in the real-life destruction of 5,300 businesses and houses owned by Greeks, Armenians and Jews. The paper, citing distributor Özen Film, said that more than 500,000 people have seen the film since its release in March. Visit the official site here. The producers of "The Pain of Autumn" say the film about the 1955 pogrom ... ... is a result of an … [Read more...]

Patr. Bartholomew to White House meeting?

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini is reporting that President Obama will meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he is in Istanbul on April 7 during a visit to Turkey. "However," the paper said, "the US president is also due to hold a one-on-one meeting with the patriarch in the White House on November 3." The plans were firmed up when Archbishop Demetrios met with the president on March 25 during a White House reception in honor of Greek Independence Day, Kathimerini said. During the public ceremony, the archbishop compared the president to Alexander the Great. While in Washington, he also attended a reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias at the Greek Embassy. Minister of Justice Nikolaos Dendias represented the Greek Government at the Independence Day events. Meanwhile, the tug-of-war between, on one side, the Turkish government and, on the other, the U.S. Greek lobby and the Greek government, continues over a proposed meeting … [Read more...]

Archbishop Demetrios Compares Obama to Alexander the Great

Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the largest Orthodox Christian jurisdiction in the United States, compared President Obama to Alexander the Great at a Greek Independence Day celebration at the White House. Politico, noting that the president got "a little unexpected flattery" from the hierarch about his crisis management skills, said the archbishop told Obama: "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great...you will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues." The unexpected flattery was so over that top that it embarrassed the president and earned the archbishop a link on the Drudge Report. In the video, someone can be heard hailing the president as an "honorary Greek." Just a hunch, but I bet that little hosanna came from one of the Obamakis and Bidenopoulos set. Back story. In the last few days, the Greek Lobby has been in overdrive over a report in Hurriyet that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to meet with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet … [Read more...]

Obamakis and Bidenopoulos

Opa! Obama!

Political candidates follow a time-honored campaign strategy of reaching out to ethnic groups and religious communities, and Orthodox Christians have been courted this way for years. It works both ways, of course. Now, little more than a week after the election, we're getting a good look at how politicians and political operatives of Greek descent -- many of them prominent in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese -- have been working for years to promote President-elect Barack Obama and running mate Sen. Joseph Biden. The Greeks for Obama group, for example, developed this catchy slogan: "If you are Greek and love Obama, clap your hands." On Nov. 5, the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes told supporters that it had raised $500,000 for Obama's campaign just weeks before the election. (full message appended at bottom of post). Andy Manatos, a public relations executive who also chaired last summer's GOA Clergy-Laity Congress, led the effort for this group. "Moving the huge American … [Read more...]