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Archons' National Commander Protests Harassment of American Pilgrims

New York - In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, Dr. Anthony Limberakis criticized the repressive harassment experienced by devout American pilgrims during their visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Nearly 200 U.S. citizens traveled to Turkey to witness the historical meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. The event was viewed all over the world as a momentous stepping stone toward bringing together the two largest Christian churches.

The letter states that "on the celebration of the services by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch on November 29th and 30th, Turkish authorities forced the Archons and other faithful Orthodox Christians to turn in their passports in order to be allowed into the services." Dr. Limberakis also mentions that "once inside the Church, Turkish police physically blocked and bullied worshippers from receiving Holy Communion. The clergy had to plead and argue with the authorities to allow the faithful to move towards the Altar and the Chalice." This is just one example of how the Turkish authorities abridged the religious rights of the U.S. citizens.

Dr. Limberakis requests that his "letter of complaint be forwarded to all relevant Turkish authorities, and insist these urgent issues of religious freedom be addressed as Turkey, a U.S. ally, works to find her place among the European nations."

The Order of Saint Andrew is acutely aware of the restrictions that the Turkish government places on the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Christian citizens, yet remains hopeful that Turkey will enter the European Union if it makes the necessary changes to its policies and fully embraces religious freedom. However, recent actions and "the outright harassment of members of the Order of Saint Andrew, faithful Orthodox Christians, and the press" demonstrate that Turkey still has many obstacles to overcome.

Read original letter here.


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