July 26, 2014

Report: Turkey to reopen Halki Seminary

Turkish newspapers say a deal is in the works. Will there be reciprocity from Greece? When President Obama was in Turkey, there were reports that "the recognition by Greek authorities of muftis in Thrace and financial support for Muslim schools might prompt a Turkish rethink on the Halki school." Here is the story from Hurriyet, the Turkish newspaper: ANKARA - The Halki seminary on the island of Heybeliada is to be reopened, Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, adding that they are searching for a formula to integrate the Orthodox theological school into Turkey’s university system. "Although we have not finalized a decision in the Cabinet, my personal impression is that we are going to open the seminary," said Günay, speaking on Kanal 24 television over the weekend. Recalling that the functioning of the Halki seminary is not compatible with the Turkish university system, Günay maintained that work is underway to find a formula for its status. He explained that the question … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch Decries Turkish Property Seizures

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 … [Read more...]

Transcription of Met. Jonah’s Speech on Orthodoxy Unity in America

Metropolitan Jonah

Sermon delivered at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, Texas on April 5, 2009. It is a great joy to see everybody here this evening from so many different communities, from different traditions. Orthodoxy is a celebration of diversity in unity, and unity in diversity. Our unity is in our one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our one Orthodox faith and our one commitment to living the truth, to living as Christians. Not to live according the spirit of the world, not to live according to our passions, not to live according to the desires that flit by through our minds and lead us into all sorts of trouble, but to live the truth, to live Orthodox. And, our diversity is something we celebrate, not a diversity of lifestyles, but a diversity that reflects the whole spectrum of our community, people of all races, people of all colors, people from a multitude of different ethnic backgrounds. … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah to Old World bishops: Hands Off the American Church!

In a stinging rebuke to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America issued a call for a unified American Church and rejected any path to unity that would mean "we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarchate still under Islamic domination." The video here records his sermon on April 5 at Pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. Although he did not mention him by name, the Metropolitan was responding to a speech given March 16 at Holy Cross School of Theology by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the speech, Fr. Lambriniadis was critical of calls for unity by both the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and OCA and asserted that "submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate" is the proper mode of unity for American Orthodox Christians. To such a … [Read more...]

Obama in the Blue Mosque

Obama in the Hagia Sophia (April 2009)

President Barack Obama, center, is accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rear center, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, fourth from right, rear, as he visits the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) … [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...]

Obama Waffling on Armenian Genocide Declaration?

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration "is hesitating on a promised presidential declaration that Armenians were the victims of genocide in the early 20th century, fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help." The L. A. Times, in "Obama wavers on pledge to declare Armenian genocide," says Obama and "other top administration officials" were to officially designate the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. But the administration also has been soliciting Ankara's help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues amid Turkish warnings that an official U.S. statement would imperil Turkey's assistance. Administration officials are considering postponing a presidential statement, citing progress toward a thaw in relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia. Further signs of warming -- such as talk of reopening border crossings -- would strengthen arguments that a U.S. statement could imperil the … [Read more...]

Mor Gabriel, Halki and Obama

A very timely story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Andrew Higgins about a land dispute between Syriac Orthodox monastery Mor Gabriel and Turkish authorities. Also yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a stop in Ankara, announced that President Obama will be visiting Turkey "in a month or so." She said this toward the end of her public remarks: I reiterate the Obama Administration’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. The United States believes it will strengthen Turkey, Europe, and our transatlantic partnership. The United States continues to support the UN-sponsored talks now taking place to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus conflict based on reunification of the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We talked about Turkey’s democracy, its multiethnic heritage, and in that context, I raised the importance that we place on reopening the Halki Seminary and efforts to reach out to all of Turkey’s communities. For … [Read more...]

Patriarch Bartholomew: Turkish Government Wants to Wipe Us Out

Asia News reports that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a new report "which denigrates the 'minority' presence of the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey, and refuses to recognize the 'ecumenical' character of the ancient patriarchate." It seems that the Turkish foreign ministry is trying to make the patriarchate "disappear," continuing to call Bartholomew I "the patriarch of Fanar [editor's note: the neighborhood where the patriarch resides]," refusing to use the title "ecumenical" and acknowledging only that he has spiritual responsibility for the domestic Greek minority, and not for the Orthodox communities connected to Constantinople. It also seems almost a concession from above to accept that Bartholomew I uses the title "ecumenical" abroad. Said the Patriarch: "We are not finished, or hopeless." The news service also cited a source who said that Turkey "was highly disturbed by the emphasis that the Russian media gave to the presence of ecumenical patriarch … [Read more...]

Turkey and Religious Liberty

My interview with Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol was published today in The Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. Our talk focused on the prospects for greater economic and religious liberty in Turkey. Mustafa blogs at The White Path. Excerpt: Let's talk about religious freedom. There's a great tension between the modern secularist path of Turkey, going back to Ataturk, and the revival of Islam and its influence on politics. Will this be a winner take all battle, or is Turkey working out something a little more complex in the future? I say there will be room for all of these views, and Turkey will be more pluralistic than it used to be. Actually, right now, the battle is between the people who want to create room for pluralism and those who want to keep it homogeneously secular. Keep in mind that the founding idea of the Turkish Republic was very monolithic. It picked up the narrative of the French Enlightenment in that secularism would make the country safe from … [Read more...]