The Ecumenical Patriarchate has no legal identity or bona fide legal personality in Turkey.
The lack of a legal identity is a major source of problems for the Ecumenical Patriarchate including non-recognition of its ownership rights and the non-issuance of residence and work permits for “foreign” (i.e. non-Turkish) priests who are essential to the continuity and functioning of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Turkish authorities do not allow the Ecumenical Patriarchate to own any property – not even its churches! The Patriarchal house itself is not recognized as the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s property and even the Girls and Boys Orphanage Foundation on the Island of Buyukada (Prinkipos) for which the Ecumenical Patriarchate has held a deed since 1902 is not legally recognized by the Turkish government. The inability to secure work permits by “foreigners” who work at the Ecumenical Patriarchate results in these individuals having to leave the country every three months to renew tourist visas, which disrupts the operation and productivity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and discourages staffing from abroad.