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PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reports on 'Pope Francis Trip to Turkey'
11/22/2014 - At the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangels in Istanbul, Sunday morning worship unfolds as it has for...

Today's Zaman reports on 'Yes to a mosque on a Cuban hill, no to Halki Seminary'
11/17/2014 - The Halki Seminary, officially called the Theological School of Halki, was the main school of theology of the...

Al-monitor reports on 'Pope's visit to Turkey is a chance to bridge ancient divide'
11/13/2014 - As Ankara prepares to receive Pope Francis on Nov. 28-30, Turkish media have noted with raised eyebrows that...

The Irish Times reports on 'Turkey accused of turning blind eye to destruction of Christian sites'
11/10/2014 - The light of day was quickly fading as a farmer gestured to follow him through a doorway into the stone...

Fourth Annual Saint Andrew's Freedom Forum
11/3/2014 - Please join the Saint Andrew's Freedom Forum for the Fourth Annual Congressional St. Andrew's Human Rights...

OCN reports on 'Patriarch John of Antioch: Jihadists Do Not Frighten Us'
11/3/2014 - In his interview with VIMA, Patriarch John of Antioch highlighted the necessity of international mobilization...

Breitbart reports on '90 percent of Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been displaced'
10/30/2014 - The Islamic State's (ISIS/ISIL) invasion of Iraq has left 90% of the nation's Orthodox Christians displaced,...

The Huffington Post reports on 'Turkey's Opportunity With the Ecumenical Patriarchate'
10/29/2014 - The actions -- and inaction -- of Turkey in the fight against the evil Islamic State reinforces the foreign...

Christopher Stratakis, Esq. honored with Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship
10/28/2014 - Archbishop Demetrios joined the Order of Saint Andrew in honoring Christopher Stratakis, Esq. by bestowing...

View all News in the Archives »


Who Are We?

The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle is comprised of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who have been honored for their outstanding service to The Orthodox Church by having a Patriarchal title, or "offikion," bestowed upon them by His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Those upon whom this title of the Mother Church has been conferred are known as "Archons of the Great Church of Christ," and the titles are personally conferred by the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.

The Order's fundamental goal and mission is to promote the religious freedom, wellbeing and advancement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey.

What is An Archon?

An Archon is an honoree by His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, for his outstanding service to the Church, and a well-known distinguished, and well-respected leader of the Greek Orthodox Community (at large).

It is by the grace of God that the Archon has been able to offer his good works and deeds of faith. Further, it is the sworn oath of the Archon to defend and promote the Greek Orthodox faith and tradition. His special concern and interest is to serve as a bulwark to protect and promote the Holy Patriarchate and its mission. He is also concerned with the human race's inalienable rights wherever and whenever they are violated - and the well-being and general welfare of the Church.

Learn more...

#1: Government Interference in Patriarchal Elections
The Turkish government imposes restrictions on the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch and Hierarchs who vote for him by requiring that they must be Turkish citizens. In fact, the government arbitrarily can veto any candidate for the position of Ecumenical Patriarch.

With the dwindling population of Hierarchs and Orthodox Christians in Turkey, we may not be able to elect an Ecumenical Patriarch in the not too distant future. This is tantamount to the asphyxiation of the leadership of the Holy Mother Church and a clear illustration of the direct intervention of the Turkish government in ecclesiastical matters.

#2: Non-Recognition of "Ecumenical" Status
The Turkish government does not recognize the "Ecumenical" status of the Patriarch and Patriarchate.

Turkish authorities do not allow the use of the term or title of "Ecumenical" for any religious activity whatsoever despite the fact that it has been used since the 6th century A.D. and recognized throughout the world. Turkey regards the Patriarchate as an institution whose leader is seen as the spiritual head of Orthodox Christians in Turkey alone rather than the leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.

#3: No Legal Identity
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has no legal identity or bona fide legal personality in Turkey.

The lack of a legal identity is a major source of problems for the Ecumenical Patriarchate including non-recognition of its ownership rights and the non-issuance of residence and work permits for "foreign" (i.e. - non-Turkish) priests who are essential to the continuity and functioning of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Turkish authorities do not allow the Ecumenical Patriarchate to own any property - not even its churches! The Patriarchal house itself is not recognized as the Patriarchate's property and even the Girls and Boys Orphanage Foundation on the Island of Buyukada (Prinkipos) for which the Patriarchate has held a deed since 1902 is not legally recognized by the Turkish government. The inability to secure work permits by "foreigners" who work at the Ecumenical Patriarchate results in these individuals having to leave the country every three months to renew tourist visas which disrupts the operation and productivity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and discourages staffing from abroad.

#4: Closing of Seminary and Inability to Train New Clergy
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is unable to train new clergy in Turkey and its theological school was forcibly closed down by the Turkish Government.

The Theological School of Halki was forcibly closed down by Turkish authorities in 1971. Since its closure, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has had to send the young men from its community desiring to enter the priesthood to one of the theological schools in Greece. In many instances, they do not return given the onerous restrictions in getting work permits and the general climate of intimidation. Despite promises by the Turkish government to re-open our theological school, there has been no progress. Left unresolved, the administrative functioning and future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is imperiled.

#5: Confiscation of Property
The Turkish Government has confiscated thousands of properties from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Through various methods, the Turkish authorities have confiscated thousands of properties from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox community over the years including our monasteries, church buildings, an orphanage, private homes, apartment buildings, schools and land. Left unchecked, the remaining Greek Orthodox community of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) - the cultural heirs of the Byzantine Empire - will be threatened and ultimately be no more.


The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF's principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.


Map of Countries
View the list of Countries of Particular Concern & Watch List Countries

2012 Annual Report
The USCIRF reports on religious freedom conditions in selected countries and formulates policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and Congress.

USCIRF News related to Turkey
Press releases, op-eds and other media statements of the UCSCIRF regarding Turkey.

FAQ on the USCIRF
A useful resource to people interested in understanding how the work of the USCIRF is important to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

For more information, visit the USCIRF website at: www.uscirf.gov