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Solobay Introduces Resolution Regarding Orthodox Christian Strife in Turkey

 

HARRISBURG, Oct. 2 - State Rep. Tim Solobay, D-Washington, today introduced a resolution (H.R. 876) that would urge the Turkish government to respect the property and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as uphold and safeguard religious and human rights without compromise.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, a minority region in Turkey, is the spiritual head of the self-governing national churches of the Orthodox Christian world, and has further jurisdictional authority over the non-self-governing Orthodox churches in the United States, Europe and South America. There are nearly 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide; over 2 million live in the United States.

The Republic of Turkey has been negotiating with the European Union for accession to EU membership since October 2005. For Turkey to be accepted into the EU, it must meet specific membership criteria, including respect for and protection of human rights and minority populations. However, the Turkish government's actions toward the Ecumenical Patriarchate have not been commensurate with EU membership requirements.

The Turkish government has:


limited selection of candidates for Ecumenical Patriarch to Turkish citizens only;

closed the Theological School in 1971 where numerous key Orthodox Christian clergy have been trained;

confiscated almost 94 percent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's properties and placed a 42 percent retroactive tax on the Holy See's charity hospital.


In the hopes of influencing the Turkish government to change its actions, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a group of laymen honored with a Patriarchal title for their service to the Orthodox Church, plan to send an American delegation to Turkey at the end of November to meet with Turkish government officials to address these issues.

New Jersey has recently passed a similar resolution.


CONTACT: Lauren Rooney
House Democratic Communications Office
Phone: 717-787-7895
Fax: 717-783-6839
Email:
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The Democratic Caucus of the PA House of Representatives