July 22, 2014

Report: Greek Orthodox bishops in U.S. may take Turkish citizenship

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Theodore Kalmoukos of the National Herald is reporting that "the government of Turkey seems to be willing to grant Turkish citizenship to all those hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who serve outside of Turkey. Turkish citizenship will allow them to freely participate in all the administrative activities of the Patriarchate including the right to be candidates for the Ecumenical Throne when a vacancy arises. It was made clear by the Ecumenical Patriarch himself that 'they will have the right to elect and to be elected.'” Kalmoukos said that no American bishop has yet to "express an opinion" on the matter: The issue was brought up at the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate and official letters were sent recently to hierarchs serving outside of Turkey urging them to file – if they so wish - their applications to become Turkish citizens. Patriarch Bartholomew brought the letters with him when he came to the U.S. on October 21 and gave them to Archbishop … [Read more...]

‘No progress’ in Turkey

From Forum 18: Religious communities in Turkey have seen no significant progress in 2009 in resolving the long-standing property problems faced by communities as diverse as Alevi Muslims, Catholics, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox, Protestants, and the Syrian Orthodox Church. Several legal cases in 2009 highlight the difficulties religious minority communities face in regaining or retaining their property. The Mor Gabriel Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Mardin in eastern Turkey is facing long-running legal cases aiming to deprive it of some its lands. Despite appeals by Pope Benedict XVI, the Turkish government has refused to hand back for Christian worship St Paul's Church in Tarsus, a significant historical site for Christians and place of pilgrimage where worship has been curtailed since summer 2009. And victories by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Greek Orthodox foundations in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg have not achieved the … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: Turkish relations improving

Greek Reporter's Anastasios Papapostolou interviews Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I about improving relations with the Turkish government and his upcoming environmental symposium in the United States next month. Greek Reporter: It is a great honor for us to meet you. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: Your visit gives me joy and I am glad we are meeting today. I would like to take a moment to send my regards to all the readers of Greek Reporter and all the members of Greek diaspora. GR: You have planned a visit to the US. Please tell us about your upcoming mission. EP: I will be in the US the last days of October and I will stay until November 10th. I will first visit Mississippi where we will participate at the 8th International Inter-religious Ecological Symposium. This conference was started by the Patriarchate in 1995 and first convened on an island in the Aegean Sea. Subsequent locations included meetings near the Black Sea, Danube River, Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, … [Read more...]

Erdogan and the Christians

Vatican analyst Sandro Magister takes a closer look at the recent meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. "But like other conciliatory gestures in the past, this one also risks producing no results," notes the introduction on Chiesa online. Magister examines Pope Benedict XVI's reservations about the entry of Turkey into the European Union and "the caution" of Vatican diplomacy. Erdogan and the Christians. Few Promises, Zero Action by Sandro Magister ROME, August 27, 2009 – Samuel Huntington called Turkey "Janus-faced," you never know if it's a friend or enemy of the West. The same thought must have come to mind for Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, when last August 15 he welcomed Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a visit to the orphanage and monastery of Saint George Koudounas on the Princes' Islands in the Marmara Sea. It was the first time that a Turkish prime minister had … [Read more...]

The Halki Seminary and the Patriarchate’s Existential Crisis

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Azbarez.com AFP reported on Thursday that the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, Bartholomew I, was hopeful Turkey would re-open a historic seminary it shut down nearly four decades ago. The Halki Orthodox Theological Seminary, located on the island of Halki off the coast of Istanbul, was the key Patriarchical institution for educating the Greek Orthodox Community and training its future clergy for more than a century before it was closed down by the Turkish government in 1971. The Patriarch was responding to signals last week by Turkey’s Culture Minister that Ankara is planning to re-open the Greek seminary, considered vital to the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The Turkish Government forcibly closed down the Seminary under a law bringing Turkish universities under the state’s control. Another law, however, made it illegal for anyone to enter the Orthodox priesthood unless they have graduated from Halki. … [Read more...]

Halki: ‘Same old story’

Nat da Polis, in a new report in AsiaNews, quotes a "senior lecturer" from the "almost non existent Orthodox community" in Istanbul on the Halki Seminary question. The lecturer, a Greek, expects little movement from Turkish authorities toward reopening the seminary. “In short it’s the same old story," says the lecturer. Full report follows: Despite Europe's request, Ankara continues to waver on Religious Freedom By NAT da Polis The head of EU enlargement has said that the accession process of Turkey also depends on the Halki school, an institution for the formation of the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, closed since 1971. The government remains silent, while the debate grows in the media. The real issue is the recognition of the status of the Patriarchate. Istanbul -- Rumours abound in Turkish press over the imminent reopening of the Halki Theological School, for the formation of theologians and the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, closed suddenly in 1971, … [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...]

Opening Halki A Done Deal?

Fr. Dositheos Anagnostopoulos, spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, says the issue concerning the reopening of the Halki Seminary has been resolved: In an interview published yesterday in the Taraf daily, ... Anagnostopoulos said: “Erdoğan will certainly etch his name in history. He is the first politician to directly address issues, avoiding euphemisms when referring to them. He has talked about the “Kurdish question”, he has said that our status as an ecumenical church concerns the church only and later he said Turkey had made fascistic moves in the past. He is very open and courageous. That's how he'll be etched in history. We need people like this. Would this solve problems? Not right away, but the prime minister has started this. I think the Heybeliada problem has been solved.” From Today's Zaman. … [Read more...]

The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ‘Deep State’

Writing in Today's Zaman, Orhan Kemal Cengiz throws a little cold water on current reports that the Halki Seminary may be reopened. Has anything really changed, he asks? Cengiz points to a long campaign, dating back to the Ottoman period, designed to either force the patriarchate to leave or to push it into extinction. The Turkish "deep state" was behind much of this, the writer says. And he places considerable blame for the patriarchate's dire situation on its own passivity. Opinion piece follows: Is the ecumenical patriarchate in Turkey waiting for Godot? By Orhan Kemal Cengiz Since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002, the reopening of the Halki Seminary has repeatedly returned to the political agenda in Turkey. There is almost a pattern. Some government officials say, “There is no harm in reopening the school [which was closed down in 1971], and there are some preparations taking place to that effect.” If you read these statements you can … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill Meets with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

Report from the Department of External Relations, Moscow Patriarchate: The head of the Turkish Government expressed satisfaction at Patriarch Kirill’s visit and the fact that he visited not only Istanbul but also the Turkish capital city of Ankara. The sides noted with satisfaction the developing relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation. Mr. Erdogan spoke about his experience of contacts with Russian leaders and the development of bilateral relations including in economy and tourism, pointing out that about three million Russian tourists had visited Turkey in the previous year alone. His Holiness Kirill stressed that the Republic of Turkey is Russia’s friendly neighbouring country and expressed the conviction that the development of relations between Turkey, on one hand, and Russia, Ukraine and other nations nourished spiritually by the Moscow Patriarchate, on the other, may help promote not only the ‘beach’ tourism but also religious tourism … [Read more...]

‘Istanbul is anxious’

Lots of press attention being paid to the possible reopening of the Halki Seminary in the wake of Patriarch Kirill's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (The patriarch is now back in Moscow where he met with President Obama.) In his analysis of the Bartholomew-Kirill meeting for Today's Zaman, Ali Murat Yel argues for a reopening of the seminary (known to Turks as Heybeliada) if the Turkish state "wishes to be counted among the civilized and democratic countries in the world." The writer also said that "Istanbul is anxious about the revival and renaissance of the Russian Church, as its weight and power might lead it to claim the overarching leadership of the Orthodox Church in the near future. The claim would not be groundless because the Patriarchate of Moscow has some 95 million followers, which constitute more than one third of the 250 million Orthodox worldwide." Then there's the problem of where to find Turkish clergy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate: The closure of the … [Read more...]

Bartholomew, Kirill Hold Patriarchal ‘Summit’ in Istanbul

A quick roundup: Andrei Zolotov, Jr., Chief Editor of Russia Profile and Deputy Director of the RIA Novosti Foreign Service, says that the recent Chambesy conference organized to discuss the "diaspora" resulted in Constantinople making concessions to Moscow. A report in the Kyiv Post says the patriarchs are putting on "a united front" despite the fact that they were to discuss the "sensitive issue of the churches in Ukraine and Estonia during the three-day visit to Turkey." The Greek news service ANA says "Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the need for unity within the Orthodox Church in order to meet the challenges of the times." Kathimerini reports that "the outcome of the meeting is keenly awaited by senior clerics both in Moscow and at the Vatican." Full text of Zolotov's analysis follows: A three-day visit by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to Istanbul is more than just his first official trip abroad as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church or than his first visit … [Read more...]