‘The Patriarchate Is Dying,’ Says Patriarch Bartholomew

ISTANBUL (Milliyet)–Following criticism of his controversial statement to a U.S. television network describing the inequality suffered by his community in Turkey, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew says “the Patriarchate is dying” and the serious problem of opening Halki seminary must be addressed.

Criticized for telling U.S. network CBS that he felt “crucified in Turkey,” in an interview he told daily Milliyet: “We are without oxygen, the Patriarchate is dying.”

He said the interview with CBS was not planned and that the media had emphasized the crucifixion quote. He said this was a metaphor for detailing Greeks’ problems in Turkey, highlighted by the issue of the Halki seminary located on Heybeliada, one of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands in Marmara Sea.

“What will we do, if we cannot raise men of the cloth? Our metropolitan bishops in Europe are over 70 years old. The ones here are 75 years old. Now, who will I nominate to this post,” said the patriarch, who will turn 70 this February. “Why should we nominate people to this post who were not raised in Turkey and educated on Heybeliada?” he asked.

“The seminary was open during Ottoman rule; [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk [founder of Turkish Republic] did not close it down. But it was wrongly closed down in 1971, since it did not have university status but was a vocational school for higher education,” he said.

The patriarch said they were open to any formula to open Halki seminary again, saying, “Whether it will have the status of a school, university or anything else, we want to raise men of the cloth and the state should give this opportunity to us.”

Patriarch Bartholomew also said that Halki should be opened according to the Lausanne Treaty, which was signed July 24, 1923 between the Triple Entente from World War I and the newly established Turkish Republic.

“Minorities can open schools for giving religious education by covering the costs themselves, says the Lausanne Treaty. We had one and it is closed down, we don’t want [an additional] right, we want what Lausanne had given us,” he said.

The patriarch said although they had heard that there were ongoing discussions regarding Halki in Ankara, their opinions had not been asked. He said he talked to State Minister Egemen Bagis about the matter, and the latter told him to organize a commission and have discussions.

Patriarch Bartholomew said the government was in favor of opening the Halki seminary but it still has not opened.

“I guess the deep state does not want it [open]. Huseyin Çelik once said, ‘I would immediately open it if it was my decision only.’ Nimet Cubukcu also said ‘there is no legal barrier.’ Why is it not opened yet? It is stuck somewhere,” he said.

He said the issue has nothing to do with reciprocity, or giving rights to Turks living in western Thrace. “We are being held hostages for the Turks living in Cyprus and western Thrace, but we are Turkish citizens. And we want our rights as Turkish citizens,” he said.

The patriarch also complained that despite official freedom of worship in Turkey, his community has not remained in Turkey because of historical incidents in which Greeks were forced to leave the country, notably the incidents of Sept. 6-7, 1955 and other events in 1964. “We are now around 3,000 people living in Turkey,” he said.


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  1. rony said:

    And the USA says Turkey is a democratic country , believe it or not . Turkey is the worst Islamic country . US should have occupied Turkey instead of Afghanistan and Iraq .

  2. Angela Savoian said:

    I pray for the Patriarch, for his courage and for all the Christians in Turkey; including our Armenian community.

  3. Antranik said:

    I have the the atmost respect for the Armenian church but I am affraid our gatoligos needs to do more regarding the Armenian minority in Turkey particularly .What a good example the Greek Patriarkh is.

    In addition N.S.O.D.D. karekin the 2nd needs to go in person and complain with every Armenian church collapsing,beeing  Georgia or Turkey.

  4. Pingback: 'The Patriarchate Is Dying,' Says Patriarch Bartholomew | Asbarez … | Drakz News Station

  5. Ted Sofis said:

    Patriarch Bartolomew had no choice other than to speak, the Patriarchate is slowly being denied the oxygen it needs to survive.  Halki has been closed since 1971 and the Patriarch has spoken countless times with the government authorities about premission to re-open the seminary.  The history and the significance of the Patriarchate is worth preserving and wheather we acknowledge it or not, it is an important part of Turkish history.  Istanbul is and always will be a Turkish city and preserving it’s historic instutions is of great value to everyone.  Benevolence is not a weakness, but a strength.

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