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 Demetrios to send to the hierarchs of the Archdiocese.
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It is noted here that a hierarch cannot participate in two Synods. Until a few years ago only Turkish citizens were allowed to participate in the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but Patriarch Bartholomew changed the rules so that at any given time six hierarchs from Turkey serve six month terms and six others from abroad serve one year terms. This development has been met with mixed reactions from hierarchs of all categories. Sources from the island of Crete told The National Herald that the hierarchs there have expressed some uneasiness because of fears that the local population will wonder about the loyalty of hierarchs who would be potentially under the influence of the Turkish government.
None of the hierarchs of America have yet to express an opinion. Concern has also arisen among high ranking officials of the Phanar since such a substantial increase in the number of eligible hierarchs will dramatically affect the dynamics of future patriarchal elections. Until now only Turkish citizens had the right to be candidates for the Patriarchy and only the Turkish members of the Holy Synod were allowed to vote. The hierarchs outside Turkey used the so-called “symsifon” meaning that they simply expressed their consensus on the decision of the Synod in Constantinople.
Furthermore, the Synod at the Phanar was obligated to submit the official list of candidates for Patriarch to the Turkish government for its official approval. The Turks had the right to delete the names of those hierarchs they did not want to be elected to the Ecumenical Throne. At the last Patriarchal election no names were deleted. The then-Metropolitan of Chalcedon Bartholomew was the leading candidate, and he was ultimately elected.