Religious Freedom Resolution Gains Momentum in Indiana

GREEK ORTHODOX OF CHICAGO AND DETROIT METROPOLISES SEEK PASSAGE IN SPRING 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

CHICAGO, IL- The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago under the leadership of Metropolitan Iakovos and the Metropolis of Detroit under the leadership of Metropolitan Nicholas, together with Order of Saint Andrew (Archon) Regional Commanders Gus M. Pablecas, John G. Manos, and Lazaros Kircos, announce a joint campaign in Indiana to gain passage of the Order of Saints Andrew the Apostle’s Religious Freedom Resolution for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In 2006, the Order of Saint Andrew (Archons) initiated the Religious Freedom Resolution project. The goal of this project, which represents one component of the overall, multi-faceted Religious Freedom Initiative, is the adoption of Religious Freedom Resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in each individual state within the United States. The project has been overseen nationally by Archon Stephen Georgeson.

To date, 44 of the 50 states have passed resolutions as part of this national effort. Indiana has yet to join this group, in part because the state is divided between the jurisdictions of the Metropolis of Chicago and Metropolis of Detroit. Now both Hierarchs are working together to see Indiana become the 45th state to pass this important resolution.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual center of over 330 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, making Orthodoxy the second largest tradition within Christianity. Based in Istanbul (formerly, Constantinople), Turkey, since the founding of the church by the Apostle Andrew, elder brother of Apostle Peter and first of the disciples of Christ, today the Ecumenical Patriarchate faces dangers that, if left unchecked, could bring an end to this historic religious institution.

The five key issues the Resolution

  1. Government Interference in Election of Ecumenical Patriarchate – The Turkish government insists on approving the selection of the Ecumenical Patriach and insists that the Patriarch must be a Turkish citizen.
  2. Non-recognition of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the worldwide spiritual leader of the Orthodox and treating him as simply a local priest.
  3. Re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, closed by the Turkish government since 1971 and where many past Patriarchs have been trained.
  4. No Legal Identity for Ecumenical Patriarchate – inhibiting the Patriarchate from taking any formal actions in Turkey in its own name and forcing the Patriarchate to use surrogates for owning property and other adminsitrative affairs .
  5. Confiscation of Property – without a legal identity, the Turkish government claims property owned by the Patriarchate for centuries has been abandoned, and then confiscates the property.

The Metropolis of Chicago is under the leadership of Metropolitan Iakovos and oversees all Greek Orthodox Parishes within Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as eastern Missouri and northwestern Indiana. The Metropolis of Detroit is under the leadership of Metropolitan Nicholas and oversees all Greek Orthodox Parishes in Michigan, Arkansas and Kentucky, as well as eastern and southern Indiana, western Ohio, western Tennessee and upstate New York.

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, has been asked to oversee this joint effort. Under Bishop Demetrios’ oversight, the Metropolis of Chicago Media Relations Director John Ackerman has been assigned leadership of this joint effort. As a member of the Friends of Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, John Ackerman was instrumental in planning and organizing the statewide campaign that successfully ended with the States of Illinois becoming the 43rd state to pass the Archon’s Religious Freedom Resolution in the spring of 2013.

“I believe a similar campaign to the one we successfully utilized in Illinois will work in Indiana,” Ackerman stated. “We will hold gatherings at each parish within Indiana explaining the importance of passage of this resolution, encouraging parishioners to send letters to their political legislative representatives, and bring media attention to this issue. This will begin in the Fall of 2016, as we need to gain momentum for passage. The legislature meets for a small window in the Spring of 2017,” Ackerman explained.

“Since the beginning of this initiative by the Archons, as each state that has passed this resolution which has brought increased attention to this issue, we have seen progress towards addressing many of these concerns” stated Bishop Demetrios. “The State of Indiana could further add to this progress and increased attention.”

Archon Regional Commander Lazaros Kircos highlighted the importance of the new initiative, “Forty-four states have recognized the importance of calling out the needed changes in Turkey to provide Orthodox with the religious freedom enjoyed by people throughout the free world. We are thankful for the Archon’s efforts that have helped to educate the legislatures of the 44 states that have passed this religious freedom resolution. We are confident that our efforts in Indiana will help convince the legislature here of the need to join their 44 sister states in calling for religious freedom.”

“This issue is not one European Nation in conflict with another but rather one nation placing restrictions and limitations on the ability of a worldwide spiritual leader” Ackerman explained. “The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual leader of over 330 million Christians worldwide, As such, we ask the legislature and more importantly the citizens of Indiana to join us in calling on the Turkish Government to ensure Religious Freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

All citizens of Indiana are asked to help. Any and all Orthodox parishioners who have a relationship with a member of the Indiana Legislature, or has a recommendation or suggestions that could help in gaining passage of this resolution, are encouraged to contact John Ackerman at (309)635-7624 or John@JohnCAckerman.com.

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