Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ecumenical Patriarch Under Persecution

A message from the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:
Some recent actions by Turkey against the religious rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate follow. If we do not raise our concerns, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be facing extinction.
  • Since 2002, the Turkish government has confiscated 75% of the 1,747 Ecumenical Patriarchate's properties, including an orphanage the Church has held since 1902. Turkey suddenly put a 42% tax, retroactive to 1999, on the Christian Church's Balukli Hospital, which treats 30-40,000 patients a year of which 99% are Muslim and Turkish citizens.

  • In December 2004, the government of Turkey reversed its commitment to President George Bush to reopen the Theological School at Halki. By doing so, they keep the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey's ominous "catch 22" — requiring that the Ecumenical Patriarch be a Turkish citizen while oppressing Orthodox Christians to near extinction and keeping any from qualifying. This assures the governmentally forced end of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Not reopening the theological school, guarantees that none of the remaining 2,000 Turkish citizens who are Orthodox (reduced from hundreds-of-thousands by official discrimination) can become clergy and, more importantly, Ecumenical Patriarch.

  • The Turkish government prevents the Orthodox Christian Church from selecting any canonically eligible bishop throughout the world from becoming the Ecumenical Patriarch by requiring Turkish citizenship and other restrictions.

  • The Turkish government refuses to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a bona fide legal entity, a critical issue since without a legal personality it cannot own property and properly function as a religious institution.
The Prime Minster of Turkey, in late 2004, reversed his commitment to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch as the head of the world's Orthodox Christians, instead of just a local Orthodox clergyman. The Prime Minister also insists on keeping the authority to veto the Patriarchal Holy Synod's selection of succeeding Ecumenical Patriarchs.
His Most Sublime All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Œcumenical Patriarch is the first among equals of the Bishops of the Orthodox Churches, second in honor and authority in Christendom only to the Bishop of Rome, and who alone among the Orthodox primates has the right of convening extraordinary synods, mediating disputes between bishops, and most critically for Catholics, the right to have ecumenical negotiations with the Pope. The loss of the Ecumenical Patriarchate would have serious repercussions within Orthodoxy and in its relations with Catholicism: suddenly, there would be sixteen Churches and three hundred million Orthodox without a spiritual leader, and without a canonical organization.

This bishopric gained prominence after Emperor Constantine moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium, the New Rome, renamed Constantinople. The Empire finally fell in 1453 to the Turks, and afterwards the Bishop of Constantinople was appointed by the Turkish Muslim Sultan. The Council of Florence promised to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but the fall of Constantinople to the Turks dashed these hopes for centuries: the Turks only appointed Ecumenical Patriarchs who were hostile to Rome.

After the Great War, the 'Young Turks', a group of liberal army officers, students, and secret society members, overthrew the Ottoman Sultans and created the modern nation of Turkey, in imitation of revolutionary France. The State has an official philosophy of materialistic positivism, and remains highly secular, nationalistic, and hostile to religion, and it has the authoritarian model of government that was popular in Europe from the 1920s to the mid-1940s. Modern Turkey wants to create an secularistic nation-state, by eliminating religions and ethnicities.


  1. Gee, looks like the schismos will finally get what's coming to them.

  2. Not that I'm trying to be uncaring, but so what? I agree with GFvonB. This is the logical and inevitable consequence of schism.

    Pax tecum

  3. Although I think that we all agree that the Schism is a very bad state to be in.

    I suspect that much of this disunity is due to the various governments controlling Constantinople; reunion seemed possible on several occations, but for the actions of government. Union with the Greeks seems more possible than with the Russians, but even in the latter case there is a long history of governmental meddling.

    We know that Christian unity is Our Lord's command, but that His permissive Will has allowed this disunity to occur.

  4. Hmm...seems that even with the death of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish government in its new secular form is still hostile to Christianity. But alas, it is a punishment from God for their schism. May the Eastern Orthodox reunite with Rome!