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Press conference scheduled for May 19 on Illinois Senate Resolution in support of Ecumenical Patriarchate

His Grace Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and the Friends of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from Peoria will be hosting a Press Conference this Sunday, May 19th, 2013, at 1:00pm at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 2701 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago. The purpose of this Press Conference will be to highlight the recent Proclamation from the Chicago Mayor and City Council proclaiming their support of Senate Resolution 70 (SR70) and calling for the passage of SR70, to highlight the 2/3’s of Illinois State Senate Members Co-Sponsoring SR70, and to call on the Illinois State Senate Leadership (focusing on Senator’s John Cullerton, Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford and Terry Link) to pass SR70 before the end of the Spring Session.
 
Invited Guests include members of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, all Co-Sponsoring Illinois State Senators and the Mayor and Council Members of the City of Chicago.
 
As you may recall, SR70 calls upon the government of Turkey to “uphold and safeguard religious and human rights without compromise, cease its discrimination of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, grant the Ecumenical Patriarchate appropriate international recognition, ecclesiastic succession, the right to train clergy of all nationalities, and to respect the property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.
 
SR70 was filed with the Illinois State Senate on February 6th, 2013, and sent to the Assignments Committee. Since then over 2/3’s of the Illinois State Senate, or to date 41 State Senators, have come forward to Co-Sponsor SR70. The Illinois State Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are both Co-Sponsors, as are many of their Assistant Majority and Minority Leaders. Of the 5 Assignment Committee members, three are currently Co-Sponsoring SR70. Beyond the Illinois State Senate, 1) the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, 2) His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, OMI, and now 3) the Mayor and Council of the City of Chicago have issued statements of their support and called for passage of SR70. In 2007, this same resolution passed the Illinois House with no opposition. Governor Pat Quinn has stated his support of passage of the resolution. Outside Illinois, 42 other states have passed this resolution, both current United States Senators from Illinois have supported this resolution, and even President Barack Obama has supported this resolution.
 
At this point, we do not understand why SR70 has not passed the Illinois State Senate. If over 2/3’s of the Illinois State Senate are Co-Sponsoring the resolution, and 3/5’s of the Assignments Committee are Co-Sponsoring the resolution, then why has SR70 been stuck in the Assignments Committee? Why would the Illinois State Senate Leadership (looking at Senator’s John Cullerton, Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford and Terry Link) not support a resolution calling for Religious Freedom? If the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, which has as it’s members representatives of most faiths within Chicago including the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, can support and call for the passage of SR70 why would any State Senator not support SR70?
 
St. George Greek Orthodox Church is our parish located in Senator John Cullerton’s District. It is one of nine parishes within the City Limits of Chicago, one of twenty seven parishes in the Chicago Metropolis Area, and one of 36 Greek Orthodox parishes in the State of Illinois. There are an estimated 330,000,000 Orthodox faithful worldwide, 6,000,000 Orthodox faithful in the United States, 1,500,000 in the State of Illinois giving it the third largest Orthodox population in the United States, and 250,000 Orthodox faithful living within the City of Chicago.
 
On January 27th, 2013, the Champaign News-Gazette wrote: (State Senator Mike) Frerichs said he has little doubt that the resolution calling on the Turkish government to remove barriers to religious freedom should pass this time. "If we claim to support religious freedom, then we should support it abroad as well," Frerichs said.” On February 17th, 2013, Phil Kadner of the Southtown Star wrote: “If the resolution doesn’t make it out of committee this year, I would at least like to hear someone explain why.”
 
We not only agree with these statements, but are waiting to hear the answers to these statements from the Illinois Senate Leadership (Senator’s John Cullerton, Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford and Terry Link) that have held up this resolution from passage.
 
John C. Ackerman
Friends of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from Peoria
[email protected]
(309) 635-7624


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