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Archons Support Mother Church at European Court for Human Rights

Upon arrival on November 25, 2007, Archon Vice Commander Nicholas Bouras hosted a dinner reception in honor of His Eminence, Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia and the Ecumenical Patriarchal lawyers.

On Tuesday, November 27, 2007, Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate led a delegation of Archons of The Order of Saint Andrew, to support the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France. The oral argument took place before a seven judge panel made up of judges from San Marino, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, Georgia, and Lithuania, with alternate judges from Italy and Serbia.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate brought an action against the government of Turkey in the ECHR for confiscating the Patriarchal Orphanage property, a majestic wooded structure located on Prinkipos (Buyukada) owned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1902. This historic orphanage is the largest single-structure wooden building in Europe and second largest in the world having served as the Patriarchal orphanage until the 1960's.
 

Prior to the court hearing, preparations and discussions were held by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence, Metropolitan Meliton, and His Eminence, Metropolitan Emmanuel along with the Ecumenical Patriarchal attorneys and the Archon Legal Committee.

Represented by Attorneys Nicos C. Alivizatos, Ioannis Ktistakis and Ata Sakmar the Ecumenical Patriarchate presented oral argument before the ECHR claiming the government illegally seized the property whose title was granted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1902 by firman (decree) of the Sultan. The overall religious freedom effort by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is coordinated by Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, a senior and well respected hierarch of the Mother Church.

After the hearing, Archbishop Demetrios said, "It is very significant that the European Court of Human Rights referred to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in every instance, printed and oral as Ecumenical. Such language is indicative that the recognition we seek is part and parcel of a common understanding of who and what we are. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is recognized around the world for its trans-national spiritual ministry of Orthodox Witness and peace-making and reconciliation in the family of humankind."
 

Discussions were held between the Archon Legal Committee and the European Center for Legal Justice.

Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis noted that the Order of St. Andrew, under the leadership of Archbishop Demetrios is assuming a more active role in the legal defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, working closely with Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia. "The Ecumenical Patriarchate will not stand alone as it seeks justice and religious freedom. The Archons in America will support the Mother Church indefatigably at any venue, at any time and in any circumstance with all our spiritual, intellectual and material resources."

In forming a new relationship between The Order of Saint Andrew and the European Centre for Law and Justice, the National Commander stated, "We are very pleased to be working with the European Centre for Law and Justice, an organization with a proven record of success before the ECHR fighting for religious liberties and human rights throughout Europe."
 

Archon delegation outside the chambers of the European Court of Human Rights. From left to right: Mr. Roger Kiska of ECLJ; National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis; Archon Spiritual Advisor, Fr. Alex Karloutsos; Archon Christopher Stratakis; and Archon George Rockas.

Headquartered in Strasbourg, the ECLJ is a non-profit law firm of Christian lawyers which is dedicated to protecting and defending religious freedom in Europe since 1997. The ECLJ coordinates and supervises Christian attorneys throughout Europe defending the rights of believers to evangelize, worship, and live as Christians without fear of persecution or discrimination.

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Metropolitan Emmanuel of France were the hierarchs representing the Sacred See of Saint Andrew. Members of the Archon Delegation included Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Spiritual Advisor and National Commander, Dr. Limberakis, Archon Legal Committee Chairman Archon Christopher Stratakis, Litigation Subcommittee Chairman Archon George Rockas, Legal Defense Fund Subcommittee Chairman Archon John Zavitsanos and Archon Legal Committee member and advisor to the ECLJ Dr. Andrew Ekonomou. Attorneys and staff members of the ECLJ, including its Director Gregor Puppnick, Roger Kiska of the ECLJ and Michael Lambros, Esq. of Atlanta provided invaluable assistance throughout the Strasbourg meetings and Court Hearing.
 

Archbishop Demetrios, Metropolitan Meliton, and Metropolitan Emmanuel prepare for the court hearing in the chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

A judgment will be delivered at a later date following the Court's deliberations, approximately three months from now. The argument can be viewed at http://www.echr.coe.int.

Additional photographs of the Archon delegation's visit to Strasbourg can be viewed in the Photo Gallery.


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