TO: All Archons
FROM: Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
As you will see by the attached fact sheet, our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate is quietly and incessantly being asphyxiated by the subtle persecution of the Turkish government. The historical flame of our Christian Faith is flickering on our Mother Church and it is our sacred duty as Archons and as Christians to protect this 2,000-year-old holy institution, the spiritual center of world Orthodoxy, from Institutional Genocide. As bearers of our priceless legacy, we can do no less than our Catholic brothers do for the Vatican or our Jewish brethren for Jerusalem.
In concert with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the Order is undertaking a major effort consonant with our role as Defenders of the Faith: to raise issues of religious freedom to the United States Government and the European Union as they begin to negotiate EU accession with Turkey. As you know, Turkey wants very much to become an EU member and will have to improve their practices with regard to religious human rights. Our effort is to assure that the treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the government of Turkey and its dismal religious human rights record must be corrected in order for Turkey to gain entry into the EU.
This is a crisis of historic magnitude! The more Americans know about the severe pressures and deprivation of basic religious rights presently suffered by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the more responsive will be our own US Government to pushing the EU on our behalf. Please help us. Share the information on the attached fact sheet with as many people as possible. Share it with any media people you may know or other important Americans. Also, some Archons are wearing their rosette more frequently and are using inquiries about it as a way of opening the subject of the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Together we can protect and promote our Ecumenical Patriarchate, but it will require great effort over a long period pf time. The martyrs of the early Church were called to witness to the truth with their lives. We are asking you to bear witness with your words and deeds. As Defenders of the Faith, the time has come to proactively safeguard the Holy and Great Mother Church of Constantinople.
ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE PRESENTLY FACING INSTITUTIONAL GENOCIDE
New developments jeopardize the nearly 2,000-year-old center for 300,000,000 Orthodox Christians:
Recent developments have put into jeopardy the seat of the spiritual leader of millions of Americans and 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world-the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey. In many ways the Ecumenical Patriarchate is to Orthodox Christians what the Vatican is to Catholics.
This living pillar of history for all Christians is jeopardized. The Apostle Andrew (the brother of Saint Peter) established the Ecumenical Patriarchate in what is today Turkey in 37 A.D. Turkey has violated basic universally recognized human rights and have taken actions against the religious rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The seven Ecumenical Councils, all of which were held under the Ecumenical Patriarchate's religious jurisdiction over 1500 years ago, defined and solidified the doctrines of the undivided and universal Christian Church. It was in the jurisdictional see of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that the New Testament was codified, the constitutional framework of the Christian Church established and the great Creeds first confessed.
Some recent actions by Turkey against the religious rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate follow. The Turkish government continues and if we do not raise our concerns, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be facing Institutional Genocide.
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 Churches’ 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 kept the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey's ominous "catch 22"--requiring that the Ecumenical Patriarch be a Turkish citizen while keeping Turkish citizens from qualifying. This assures the governmental–extinction 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 Minister 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 simple, local Orthodox clergyman. The Prime Minister also insists on keeping the authority to veto the Patriarchal Holy Synod's selection of Ecumenical Patriarch.