Skip to comments.Europe asks Turkey to “free” school of Ecumenical Patriarchate
Posted on 09/30/2006 2:42:39 PM PDT by NYer
Set up in 1842, the school was de facto shut down in 1971, because only Turkish young people of Orthodox faith can attend, and there are too few of them. The patriarchate hopes the visit of Benedict XVI may help obtain respect for religious freedom and minority rights.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) This year, the wiring was redone after the old wooden windows were replaced by aluminium ones last year; the walls are painted in pretty old rose and white colours; the benches are writing desks: high, carved in black wood, with tops that open and inlaid wooden chairs. Empty. There are no pupils. No one.
Set up in 1842, the Theological School of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is situated at the top of a small island in Marmara Sea, Haliki, one hour and a half away by boat from Istanbul, rich in forests and holiday villas. No cars or other means of transport are allowed to circulate on the island, so to get around, and even to go up to the school, which dominates the island, one must take a coloured cart drawn by two horses. Such carts serve as taxis.
Doroteos, the Orthodox priest responsible for the school, tells visitors it was founded on the site of former sacred settlements: there are ruins dating back to the IX century. Destroyed or damaged by not infrequent earthquakes, the current building is completely anti-seismic and has the shape of a Greek p, in honour of St Paul. It was operational during the Ottoman Empire, and continued to undertake its role of formation under the Turkish Republic... until 1971.
Since then, it has been de facto closed. Only Turkish students of Orthodox faith would be allowed to attend, but the Orthodox community in Turkey, which at the time the school was set up had nearly 200,000 members, today only has a few thousand, less than 5,000. In Haliki, there were 180 Christians, now there are 25. Thus, there are never enough Turkish students of Orthodox faith wanting to attend this school. We have asked to enrol five students, but they told us it would cost too much and they sent them to other schools, said Doroteos. The solution naturally is there: it would suffice to allow foreign Orthodox students to attend. But for such students, the government would impose a three-month visa. The patriarchate has title deeds testifying to the ownership of the school, but even this is not secure.
However the government has appointed, as per the law, a deputy director, who is a woman. She is called Perla. She does not give her surname, limiting herself to explaining that her current work consists of sending post to the Education Ministry. To the question, what dealings have you with her? one of the few Orthodox there replied: human.
The atmosphere is surreal. Everything is clean, neat and empty: the refectory, the main hall, with pictures of past rectors on walls covered with red fabric, and an icon of Our Lady on a seat in the centre, and the library. There are 60,000 volumes on 33 different subjects, said Doroteos. There are antique books too. Students come from the United States or from Australia, to prepare their degree thesis. Naturally they cannot stay here for more than three months.
And there is also a small apartment for possible visits by the Ecumenical Patriarch. The current patriarch, Bartholomew I, studied and later taught here, and he continues to visit even once a month. Metropolitans and religious come; their visits are related to studies. A metropolitan is staying there at the moment.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate maintains that the closure of the school constitutes a violation of Article 40 of the Losanna Treaty, in which Turkey committed itself to guaranteeing minority rights, and of Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution, that guarantees freedom of worship and education. These guarantees are also upheld by Article 9 of the European Constitution on Human Rights, which Turkey is signatory to. Now, however, it seems that Europe is making moves: a few days ago, a European Parliament resolution called on Ankara to allow the Patriarchate to run the seminary of Haliki.
As for Bartholomew I, he makes no secret of his hopes that the visit of Benedict XVI to Turkey in November may help boost religious freedom and minority rights, both Catholic and Orthodox.
"As for Bartholomew I, he makes no secret of his hopes that the visit of Benedict XVI to Turkey in November may help boost religious freedom and minority rights, both Catholic and Orthodox."
(sigh) Yep, the Patriarch looks to the pope, THE BISHOP OF ROME, to make something happen for him in his own country. If that isn't a tacit recognition of the reality of the importance of the pope EVEN FOR THE EASTERN ORTHODOX then nothing is.
Thanks for the ping!
Two voices are stronger than one. Pope BXVI is responding to the invitation of the Patriarch, to lend him his support, to visit the church where a catholic priest was murdered in cold blood earlier this year and to speak with the President, despite the warnings and threats on his life. Let us pray that this school will be opened once again and that the religious freedom of all christians will be recognized.
Are there (m)any Orthodox ethnic Turks in Istanbul? Would a Greek native of Turkey accept the "Turkish" label?
The Patriarchate is in a very weak spot. Are there any possible successors for the current patriarch under the oppressive constraints of the government?
Sounds to me as though the EP needs to give a certain Anglo-psaltis (and his personal translator/interpreter, Kolokotronis) a fellowship to go there and rummage around that 60,000 volume library for a month or so. Hate to see it go to waste.
I suppose if the Turks want into the EU bad enough they might obey their own laws on this one. But maybe it has crossed their mind that under European law they would have to give Hagia Sophia back to the Orthodox ... among other things.
" Are there (m)any Orthodox ethnic Turks in Istanbul? Would a Greek native of Turkey accept the "Turkish" label?"
So far as I know, there are no "ethnic" Turks who are Orthodox. Greeks in Turkey, however, do accept the label "Turkish".
" Are there any possible successors for the current patriarch under the oppressive constraints of the government?"
Maybe one or two.
An Orthodox ping!
The official position of the Turkish Republic is that all its citizens and all institutions on its soil are Turkish. Ataturk redefined "Turkishness" not as an ethnicity, but as a nationality, the way American or Canadian is a nationality. Needless to say, members of non-Turkish ethnic groups living in Turkey: Greeks, Armenians (no the Ottomans didn't kill them all), Arabs, Kurds, Azeris. . . . don't see it that way.
Still, for the purposes of this discussion ethnic Greeks still residing in Turkey count, whether they call themselves 'Turkish' or not.
Yes, and for that reason, and the fact that the seminary and the Patriarchate would have to be opened to any citizen of the EU, the EP is, understandably, very eager to have Turkey join the EU.
It would clearly be good for the EP and the Christian minorities in Turkey (the Greeks in European Turkey, the Armenians and Christian Arabs in Asis Minor), but it's not clear it would be good for the EU, Christendom as a whole, or Western civilization to have Turkey in the EU.
Notice here that the Birshops state that the Bishop of Old Rome was granted priviledges by the Bishops and not because it was his "right."
The preeminence of an Apostolic See, whether that of +Peter or +John or +James, etc. was incumbent on the imperial or royal dignity of the city. This, Antioch, which was originally the See of +Peter did not attain the glory of the Vatican and Antiochan patriarchs never claimed Petrine primacy.
I know this is going to rattle some of our Catholic friends here, but I am saying this in order to make a related point: the Ecumenical Patriarchate needs to move.
There is no Constantinople! The Ecumenical Patriarchy is under siege. This would be equivalent to Serbia claiming the Patriarchy in Pech (Kosovo), which was abandoned in the 17th century because of a Turkish pogrom. naturally, the Patriarchy today is in Belgrade.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is a prisoner of Turkish Muslim officials. He is dhimmified, intimidated and scared, and is prone to say unwise things when it comes to Turkey because his tiny parish and his own See depend entirely on the whim of a people who hate Christians.
Turkey may be our ally but Turkey is not our friend. Nor is Turkey a model democracy. Turkish human rights record is abysmal. It's one thing to ask all it citizens to be responsible Turkish voters, but using the American formula for "nationality" in a country defined by ethnic Ottomans is an insult to everyone's intelligence.
Consequently, Turkey, like Bulgaria (another one of our close newly minted allies) does not recognize minorities. Thus, Kurds cannot use their own language or even their own names. They can't have their own schools, even privately. Turkey to this day denies Armenian Holocaust. Yet, another set of our newly minted allies in Europe, Kosovo Albanians and Bosnian Muslims, find Turkey a sentimental pillar of hope and a role model.
Rather than continue to depend on the shims of an Islamic (and inherently anti-Christian) regime which is mixed with strong nationsalism (i.e. the term Islamonazis), rather than risk further humiliation, the Ecumenical Patriarchate needs to move, as Serbian did, to a place where Orthodoxy will be free and where it is surrounded by Orthodox people: Moscow.
Time is ripe for Moscow to become the third Rome, and for Patriarch of all Russia to become the next Ecumenical Patriarch. This will allow Greece to become a Patriarchate as it should be (right now it is under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch).
Orthodoxy is now predominantly Slavic. Over 85% of all the world's Orthodox are Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Bulgarians, etc.). Of these 80% of the world's Orthodox are under the Patriarch of All Russia.
That would be one solution--and fine with me, as we could then have jurisdictional unity in North America as we once did under Moscow.
Another would be for the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople to be removed from Turkey. After all the Patriarch of Antioch has not been able to visit Antioch, much less have his seat there, since Second Greco-Turkish War and the establishment by the 'secular' Turkish Republic of a policy forbidding Christian clergy to function in Asia Minor. Antioch's seat is now in Damascus.
Why should Constantinople's seat not be removed to Washington, DC? I understand the E.P. had three possible sites for a retreat from Turkey: Patmos, Geneva, and just outside DC.
Geneva would be a disaster, with the E.P. becoming as much a prisoner of the E.U. and U.N. as he is now of the Turks. Patmos makes some sense, but most of the flock the E.P. claims is now in the Americas, and the removal of Constantinople's seat to DC would as much as the transfer of the title to Moscow, provide the basis for jurisdictional unity in America, and presumably once that is accomplished in the rest of the lands of the mis-named 'diaspora' (we're not scattered from home, thank you, this is our home, whether we're Orthodox in America or Argentina or Australia or. . .).
It doesn't rattle this catholic one way or another but it does reinforce a similar question I raised on another thread. Who, how and why are Patriarchs assigned to certain Sees? And, is it possible for them to move?
The question intrigues me as a similar situation exists in the Catholic Church. Mar Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, has expressed concern over the exodus of Maronite Catholics from Lebanon, the See of the Maronite Church. In a country that was once predominantly catholic, the Maronites have shrunk to 40% of the population while the Muslim population continues to grow. The Maronite Catholic Church has now spread to nearly every continent around the world and is blossoming in the diaspora. However, Lebanon has been the seat of their church since the 4th century.
How does a Patriarch move a "See"?
There is no precedent for moving a Patriarchate to an area outside its primary area of jurisdiction. The Patriarch of Antioch is still in his area of jurisdiction, even though he has moved to Damascus. The Patriarch of Serbia is still in Serbia.
Whether the chief hierarch of the Russian peoples was in Kiev, Novgorod, or Moscow, it was still Russia (and the Bishop of Moscow isn't known as the bishop of Kiev, i.e. he didn't move, but keep his name -- they just changed where the leading see was considered to be.)
The problem is that the Patriarch of Constantinople has *nothing* left of his traditional territory -- nowhere to move, except to Greece itself (which I assume is part of his traditional territory, where he is not wanted, as far as I can tell.
I think that having him move to America would be fine, as long as he was then considered to be the Patriarch of America, and as long as the Patriarch of Moscow was considered to be the new EP. There would be no grounds for having the Patriarch of the Americas be "first in honor" amongst Orthodox bishops.
In other words, the ideal situation would be to do both things: move or shut down the Patriarchate of Constantinople and make the newly formed Patriarchate of Greece into the leading "Greek" Patriarchate, and make the Russian Patriarch the new EP.
Not that that is ever going to happen...
Agrarian asnwdered that onw nicely, IMO. He can move to DC as long as he is not the EP!
Why not? Because America is not an Orthodox country. With some meager one million Orthodox, it is practivally non-existent on the religious map. That's like the Pope moving to Russia! dure, there are Catholics there, buth not much of (wstern) catholicism; just as there are Orthodox in America, but the culture is not Orthodox.
Obviously, the world's center of Orthodoxy is Moscow. It should be given the dignity and the honor it deserves. If Tartars took over Russia and harassed and made EP's live there impossible, another Cghurch would have to pick up the Cross. I think the blessed bishops of the C ouncil of Chalcedon made that clear.
Precedence of the Bishop of Constantinople would not change. He would always first behind the Bishop of Rome (the precedence is paraciced by protocols of both particular Churches, East and West, regardless if they are not in communion), jst as the rhone of +Peter comes first, for historical reasns, and then others follow.
...once that is accomplished in the rest of the lands of the mis-named 'diaspora' (we're not scattered from home, thank you, this is our home, whether we're Orthodox in America or Argentina or Australia or...
The (in)famous "New Calendar" EP, Meletius IV Metaxakis, or Meletius IV, came to America after his cousin, the prime minister, who was deposed by royalists (it was his cousin who appointed him Archbishop of Athens only after being a priest for a few years!)
Meletius IV is the one who stablished the current Greek orthodox Diocese of America (GOARCH), and tried to bring all Orthodox in America under this umbrella, justifying it that the EP has jursidiction over all "barbarian lands."
So, you see it doesn't matter if you are "at home." As far as the EP is ocncerned, you are not untl the ground you walk on is Orthodox.
The Maronites are below 40%. 35% is the current figure for all Christians in Lebanon, split 5/7 Maronites, 1/7 Orthodox, 1/7 others (mostly Melkites under Rome, but with some Syrian Jacobites and protestants).
(And I'd dispute the claim the Maronites, as such, were there since the fourth century. The Maronites as a distinct group were originally monothelites who at some point returned to orthodox Christology and submitted to Rome.)
I'm well aware of the E.P.'s spurious claim based on the canon on 'barbarian lands', and you will notice that I always attribute the anti-canonical situation in North America principally to the establishment of the Greek Archdiocese (by Pat. Meletius of sorrowful memory), rather than to the severing of normal relations with the Patriarchate in Moscow.
Truth be told, the Roman Empire wasn't a Christian nation when the precedence of sees based on the importance of the city they occupied was begun, but Rome ranked first as the capital, even when Diocletian was adorning the Church with martyrs and defiling his soul with violence, even as Alexandria ranked second as the second most important city in the Empire, and so forth.
Like it or not Washington is the capital of the Empire now. And I use that word without prejudice--post 9/11 I decided American imperialism is a good thing.
The center of today's Orthodox world is in Moscow, like it or not. That's where the EP should be.
Well, leveling is always in order. :)
But without opening a can of theological worms, let me just say that the 4th Ecumenical Council seems to ascribe a little more weight to Leo, Archibishop of Rome, than the fact that he held a once-important historic see.
And for some counter-leveling in all charity, I think that is easier for folks under the omophorion (I hope I used that right) of the EP of Constantinople to want to "move" the patriarchate to Moscow or wherever. Because, as far as I know, Constantinople was the only patriarchate of the five that was created for largely political reasons and not because its importance as an Apostolic See was firmly established by the 4th century. The story of St. Andrew aside (and who am I to deny it?), I'm not aware that Byzantium/Constantinople figures very much at all in Eusebius's History.
I am certainly not opposed to Constantinople's rank but I think that the historicity/apostolicity of the see could be a minor issue to you because, well, it was really never Constantinople's strong suit. That's not a criticism, mind you, just a sociological observation.
And just for the record, so you know from where I come from in all this, I think that Hagia Sophia's current condition is a crying shame, and it should be returned in all its former glory to the EP posthaste.
Let me say that I agree with everything you wrote. No problems or issues there. Yes, of course, +Leo was given the full weight. Yet some things were taken away from him too. No one doubted or questioned that +Leo was first among other patriarchs. The Orthodox still recognize that. We are discussing not if but what that entails.
Our non-communion is not based on ranking but on theological differences; we simply do not profess the same faith (as the Orthodox see it).
I am Serbian Orthodox and we really don't consider ourselves to be "under" EP's omophorion; I would venture to say the Church of Greece is held captive by him, but his presence is a symbolic representation of our faith and in that sense he does reflect all of us to the world.
Of course... I completely agree, and like I said, I'm not here to tackle that issue. :)
However, I am interested in your thoughts on how easily a patriarchate can be moved...it's something I've been asking myself and haven't answered to my own satisfaction. Almost no reason why New York should not be a quasi-patriarchate at this point (although these things work differently in the Latin church). But then again, why is Baltimore the Primatial see of America? And why Canterbury and not London?
History is inextricably woven in to the rights and status of a patriarchate...I suppose there's no *theological* reason why one can't be moved, but maybe geographical tradition is at least as worth defending (where it can be anyway) as other aspects of tradition.
I would say unless the Turks physically destroy the Patriarchate and expel the Ecumenical Patriarch, it won't and can't happen. Under such circumstances, a pan-Orthodox Synod (council of all Orthodox Patriarchs would have to meet and decide, and in this case the decision would be a one of sympathy for all the Orthodox would for that moment be Greeks.
I would say, the Patriarchate would be built on the Greco-Turkish border, as close to Istanbul as possible and they would probably build the biggest Orthodox church in the world, and would remain there until the Turks, by the grace of God become Orthodox one day.
If for some reason the issue of moving the Ecumenical Patriarchate were to come up for a different reason (although I can't imagine what), the most logical place would be Moscow. Russian Patriarch represents over 80% of the world Orthodox, and the Patriarchate would be in the heart of the Orthodox world, not on its fingers as it is today.
But in either case, the decision would have to be made by a pan-Orthodox Synod and then approved by the laity and lower clergy, always keeping in mind that love does not impose.