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Turkey's Friends in U.S. Congress and Administration Encourage Religious Freedom for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

"We greatly appreciate the efforts of the creator of the Congressional Turkey Caucus and Chairman of the House European Subcommittee, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), at yesterday's Congressional hearing which he chaired. He asked Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns what friends of Turkey can do to help them understand that granting religious freedom to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the spiritual head of 250 million Orthodox Christians would benefit their country greatly. Burns is also a good friend of Turkey and our government's point person with that country", said Dr. Anthony Limberakis, the head of the Order of St. Andrew.

"We are pleased that Undersecretary Burns responded that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a tremendous asset for Turkey's accession into the European Union and for other benefits of the contemporary world desired by the people of Turkey. Burns' personal knowledge of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the extraordinary value His All Holiness holds for Turkey, for all Christians and for all people of peace, seemed to add to the emphasis he attributed to this crucial matter. The unusually high regard with which Undersecretary Burns is held internationally and domestically by Presidents, Senators and Members of Congress of both political parties makes the position he took all the more consequential for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for Turkey", Limberakis said.

Limberakis concluded by saying, "Yesterday's exchange between Chairman Wexler and Undersecretary Burns is another indication of the dramatic increase in attention given to the Ecumenical Patriarchal crisis by Washington, D.C. since the increased focus of the Order of St. Andrew and the massive undertaking by the public policy company of Manatos & Manatos. The raising of the issue to record setting levels in the U.S. Senate last year and in House of Representatives this year is the result of Archdiocesan, Archon, Metropolis, and parish attention and of extensive daily work contributed by Manatos & Manatos in recent years", said Limberakis.

The Order of St. Andrew is made up of America's most prominent Orthodox Christians who are appointed to the Order by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch. They work, with the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and with their spiritual leader Father Alex Karloutsos, to stop Turkey's movement toward the termination of the nearly 2,000-year-old spiritual headquarters of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.