Have GOA Metropolitans become citizens of Turkey?

In a freewheeling interview with Hurriyet (“Turkey’s English Daily”) Pat. Bartholomew said (note last sentence):

Bartholomew drew particular attention to the seminary problem. “Our generation is gradually becoming extinct, and I have concerns for the future. Where will our ecclesiastics get their education? Moreover, it would be proper to have a Halki Seminary graduate at the top of the Patriarchate. Our ecclesiastics who studied at Halki Seminary and are currently serving abroad are all Turkish-loving people.”

Once Turkey’s principal facility for the training of Greek Orthodox clerics, the school was shuttered in 1971 in a ruling that curtailed most private higher education in Turkey. The ban has long been decried by both members of the local Greek community as well as the United States and the European Union.

Noting that the Turkish government has taken a significant step and granted the right for Fener Greek Patriarchate affiliated metropolitans serving in several countries to have Turkish citizenship as a secondary citizenship, Bartholomew said: “A substantial proportion of them have approved this. They have sent us their documents, and we have delivered them to Ankara. We are waiting for a response now.”

Read the entire interview on the Hurriyet website.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Of course, nobody really knows what constitutes a “substantial proportion” of bishops, but even if just one American bishop sold out and took this offer, it would be a travesty. Perhaps we could call any such bishops “Americans-in-name-only.”

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    American influence in Turkey is diminishing making the lobbying of US Congress of less effect. Russia is rising to geopolitical prominence in the area making the Kremlin’s influence preeminent. This will affect the EP’s standing in Turkey and foster a greater dependency on Moscow, something the Phanar probably views with some alarm. Asking American Metropolitans to become Turkish citizens appears to be a calculation to ensure the influence the EP enjoyed when American influence was stronger. See: Turkey, Russia sign agreement on oil pipeline.

    You are witnessing a decline not of the Ecumenical Patriarchate exactly, but the decline of the self-definition and self-identity (how the Phanar sees itself and what it projects to the world) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the Ottoman Conquest. The Phanar is undergoing a type of transformation it has long fought against but also contributed to — fought against with arguments that redefined Canon 28 (a jurisdictional claim to far-flung territories apparently dismissed at the Chembesy meeting), equating the universality of the Gospel with the universalism of Hellenistic ideals (a philosophical claim asserting universal primacy), etc,; — contributed to by positioning the Ecumenical Patriarch as the titular religious head of environmentalism (a trans-cultural position), supporting the Geneva Protocols (transnational geo-political influence), defining pollution as a primal sin (trans-religious leadership), etc.

    The compromise that the Ancient Patriarchate made with their Muslim conquerors worked until this century, which is to say when Greeks were still largely confined to Greece. Geography was destiny in those days. The relationship will no doubt remain, but the rationale that guided the Phanar over the last five centuries is not transferable to other geo-political constructions. That is the painful and hard truth that they are facing today. (Don’t be surprised if one day we see the throne occupied by a Russian.)

    America seems to be the Phanar’s last hope for international prominence, thus the attempt to steer American unity towards submission to Constantinople. The wild-card here is of course the autocephaly of the OCA which Constantinople refuses to recognize but Moscow affirms. That is why the Episcopal Assembly is so important. Its success ought not to be measured solely in terms of its outcome (although we all hope it is successful). The fact that it is happening at all represents the diminution of Phanariot influence and authority outlined above. The world is changing.

    • George Michalopulos :

      Fr, if what you say is true, that America is the last, best hope for the EP to retain its prominence, then the ineptness of the Phanariote advisors (including the upper echelons of the GOA) as expemplified by numerous hamfisted actions ever since Ligonier lead me to believe that they truly don’t know what they’re doing.

      Consider: had Ligonier been allowed to proceed, then America would have a friendly patriarchate by now. If nothing else, the “problem” of the OCA would have been dealt with by the friendly unification of all American jursidictions that Ligonier promised. Let’s explore this further: Russia would have had one of its major weapons removed from its arsenal. Not so much the OCA but what it represents –Russia’s ability to singlehandedly declare one of its eparchies to be autocephalous. (This after all is the real sticking point with Istanbul in that it believes that only it can grant autocephaly.)

      Other considerations: the fruition of an American church would not necessarily prevent the formation of EAs in other regions of the world. It certainly would show one way for ethnic jurisdictions to coalesce into a united church but not the only way.

      Instead, what do we have? We will have an EA in North America, but the correllation forces are clearly forming: unificationists on the one hand (perhaps led by Demetrius? Certainly led by Jonah and Philip) and diasporists on the other (as represented by heavy ethnic concentrations congregated in the larger cities of the East Coast).

      • George Michalopulos :

        I had to cut short my analysis earlier so here goes…

        Let’s look at what else the Phanar lost by instigating the Massacre of Ligonier: the Phanar trying to press its claims to universality by using the Hellenism gambit, at precisely that point in history in which Greece is in the throws of self-destruction (and quite possibly taking the entire international financial system with it). This is insane. But the wonderboys at 79th St and the Phanariote advisors simply can’t connect the dots. For them it’s all dress-up and nostalgia.

        But this is all recrimination. What about North America? And the other EAs? I can’t speak for the others, but the maturity of the North American church to me is at issue. Are we mature or are we part of the Ruritanian Golden Age cult? I’ve already talked about the correllation of forces, for want of better terms, Natives versus Diasporists (America vs. D-World). Who will win? Better to ask, which side has the better argument, more specifically, who has the Gospel?

        We know that some in D-world believe that the GOA archbishop should be supreme but have they carefully thought out the implications of this? The chief hierarch of North America will have the title “Metropolitan of All-America and Canada.” Nothing less will be serious. Already such an officer exists. Under the protocols worked out at Chambesy, this office will continue to exist as will his jurisdiction. I could see +Jonah in humility conceding this title to +Demetrios (or his successor) but what will +Demetrios do with it? Or more specifically what will the Diasporists allow him to do with it?

        Perhaps this is too arcane. Perhaps this is in fact the wrong question. Do the powers-that-be in the GOA even want this title? Are they aware that it exists? And if so, are they cognizant of what it implies? This title is not some throw-away. It is not devoid of meaning. It is in fact pregnant with immense meaning, that its holder is beholden to the North American land its peoples. No present or future GOA bishop can be able to wear it comfortably, as long as he and his hangers-on consider their Hellenism to be paramount. In the past, one such man certainly existed, +Iakovos –a proud Hellene–certainly possessed the mettle and love for this land’s people to be Patriarch of North America. But that is in the past, he has gone to his reward. Where are we today?

        Consider the immense history of the title “Metropolitan of Kiev.” Although its holder throughout the ages moved from Kiev to Vladimir-Suzdal, and finally to Moscow, its continued existence has geopolitical implications to this day, engulfing not only Moscow and the Ukraine, but whether the Ukraine will be part of NATO or part of a resurgent Russia.

        Words mean things. Titles are words. In Christ’s Church they are not to be used flippantly or awarded to vainglorious businessmen for the right price. If the bishops of North America are serious men who care about the Gospel and are not playing games and hatching intrigues, then the Holy Spirit will enlighten them about the seriousness of all episcopal titles. Perhaps they will repent of the profligate way in which the perfectly good title of metropolitan has been tossed about like kleenex. But at the very least they will consider in a sober fashion what in fact it means to award one of their number the title of Metropolitan of All-America and Canada. If they cannot come to grips with that then the EA will quickly degenerate into another SCOBA. And deservedly so.

  3. You know, seeing Turkey losing a little ground against Islamo-facsism, I really wonder whether it wouldn’t be best for everyone if the EP simply ‘transferred his flag’ to ‘his’ (cough cough) eparchy in ‘the USA’.

    Under the canonal rules so outdated as to parody the ‘Bizzaro’ comics this is all just peachy.

    Sure the first while it would be a, you know, well, ‘a bumpy ride’.

    Perhaps it really could work as ‘the Holy Synod’ would be populated by so many bishops from so far and wide it really would merit the term ‘ecumenical’ and they wouldn’t be cowed by any sort of Greek nationalism so the synod would really function as one with the Patriarch being the primus – inter – pares.

    If Turkey wasn’t heading toward greater oppressions it might have been better to stay there.

    Now, maybe in the USA the Ecumenical Patriarchate really would have an Ecumenicity he’d have nowhere else made so by the actual world-wide ancestry of the synod (which would have to be a few dozen but I don’t think that’s a problem.)

    Hmmmmm. Even the old experienced ‘power brokers’ would be pulling in the same direction as the ‘local money does local work and brings in local people’ types.

    Of course, if the Patriarch turned out to say a few too many really bad things out loud it would be a problem, but any of those problems are better ones than being under ‘Syria North’.

    • George Michalopulos :

      Harry, a fundamental problem with this scenario is that the term “ecumenical” was first used as an adjective to differentiate the archbishop of Constantinople from the other patriarchs. (The bishops of Rome and Alexandria were called “popes” for example.) It had nothing to do with “universality” and was admitted as much by John IV, who first laid claim to it. He was simply the bishop of the ecumenical capital –those were his own words.

      Of course we know that the Phanar has long played a double-game, trying to have it both ways, but if the EP did decamp for Washington DC, his papalism would be laid bare for all the world to see. There simply would be no way to square that circle. Short of healing the Great Schism between East and West, we Orthodox either have a pope or we have an episcopal college, but we can’t have both

      • George and all, so little really changes or in fact involves much interaction that is important about how the various bishops view one another overseas. All that is really important is the health of the church and that is the same as the progress in peace, understanding, faith and cooperation among us.

        All I was noodling about is whether it would be better to have some bunch of ersatz locals with defacto foreign money channels and control (this means institutional death over time absent totally unexpected waves immigration from the old countries), or having a Greek Patriarch move here and live here while we still have enough people around here to make a go of things.

        Of course there is and should be a third way— bishops ‘man up’ and do the right thing and the EP stay where he is and try to be effective in Turkey (you know, something new.. it might take some married men as bishops to gain the trust of potential Islamic converts). Anyhow I think we have seen we can forget about that, they appear to be ‘owned’ and unable even if willing to actually behave like they were senior leaders of a faith that puts ethnic origin in second position. I’m not sure anybody here in the USA cares enough to challenge the overseas owners to become new local ‘owners’, certainly nobody in government does and I think that confuses them so they want to keep their foreign owners.

        So that’s what the current point in time offers, would it be better to have an old Patriarch suffer under Islamo facsism in Turkey or move here and unite everybody in short order. I’m thinking with the diversity on the synod it might work.

  4. Honest question: Why do all or most (at least at first glance) more established Orthodox missions that are/were connected to Hellenistic/Greek traditions still have Archbishops, Patriarchs, Metropolitans that are Greek, while former missions that were connected to say, the Russian or Antiochian traditions, now seem to have leaders made up of the local inhabitants? Again, at least at first glance …

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