Through the fine efforts of National Council Member Archon Dr. Nicholas Loutsion, this measure was introduced by State Representative Tim Solobay (D-Washington County) and was passed unanimously by the Pennsylvania House
House adopts Solobay resolution regarding Orthodox Christian strife in Turkey
HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 - The state House today adopted a resolution urging the Turkish government to respect the property and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, and uphold and safeguard religious and human rights without compromise.
House Resolution 876 was introduced by state Rep. Tim Solobay, D-Washington.
"As a result of Turkish oppression, Orthodox Christians in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States stand to lose their spiritual leader," Solobay said.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate 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.
Solobay noted that 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, a minority religion in Turkey, have not been commensurate with EU membership requirements.
The Turkish government has:
- limited selection of candidates for the 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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stae Rep. Tim Solobay D-Washington
CONTACT: Lauren Rooney
House Democratic Communications Office