The Work of the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Recently Amnesty International published an article titled “State of emergency must not roll back human rights in Turkey.”

There was concern that Turkey’s President Erdogan’s announcement of the imposition of a state of emergency would “pave the way for a roll-back in human rights or be used as a pretext to further clamp down on freedom of expression and protections against arbitrary detention and torture.”

The article continued: “In a chilling harbinger of what is to come, the deputy Prime Minister announced today that for the duration of the state of emergency the government will suspend the European Convention on Human Rights.”

How bad is it?

Since the attempted coup there have been various reports that:

  • at least 2,745 judges and prosecutors have been suspended
  • 15,200 Ministry personnel had been suspended
  • 524 private schools and 102 other institutions operating under the Ministry of Education have been closed.
  • The Ministry of Education has also suspended the right of academics to conduct research abroad until further notice and has called back academics who are presently working abroad.
  • arbitrarily blocked access to more than 20 news websites
  • revoked the licenses of 25 media houses in the country
  • 34 individual journalists have had their press cards canceled
  • at least one journalist has had an arrest warrant issued against her for her coverage of the attempted coup.

Can anything be done?

Have you heard about the Order of St. Andrew and the Archons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople?

Below is an article written by Thomas N. Kanelos, Archon Depoutatos for the Archons in the Metropolis of Chicago. It will give you a clearer understanding of the mission of the Archons.  They have been defending the Church in Turkey for decades.

 

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Tuesday, May 29, 1453, a day that all true lovers of history know well. After a siege of more than six weeks the Queen City, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. We can only imagine the end recalling the words of the great Historian Sir Steven Runcimen. We remember the stories of the “…last Christian Emperor, standing in the breach of the wall, abandoned by his Western allies, holding the infidel at bay until their numbers over-powered him and he died, with the empire as his winding sheet.”

For nearly 500 hundred years, the Christians of Constantinople and the surrounding areas, lived as second class subjects with periods of general calm interspersed with periods violent pogroms. The Church, as the body responsible for the political as well as spiritual jurisdiction over the Christian subjects, also vacillated between times of peaceful coexistence along with times of persecution. From the period of 1453 through 1922, there were 103 Ecumenical Patriarchal reigns, averaging less than five years each—an indication of the interference of the Ottoman
Government into the administration of the Church. Nevertheless, with notable exceptions, the Christians subjects were allowed their properties and their customs and most importantly their Churches and their practice of the Faith.

Let’s move forward to the era of the First World War. Traditional empires were coming apart as the world entered the 20th century and the Ottoman Empire was no exception. War, decay and corruption had caused great unrest among the Turkish subjects and animosity against the Government. The defeat of the Central Powers, the brief war with Greece culminating with the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the expulsion of Greeks from Smyrna in 1922 signaled a new era in the treatment of the Christian Orthodox citizens of the new secular Republic of Turkey. Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk and his Nationalist Movement succeeded in taking control and he became the first President of Modern Turkey.

The Treaty of Lausanne settled the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Forces. This treaty of 1923 was incorporated into the new Turkish Constitution and guaranteed freedom of religious expression and belief for the religious minorities in Turkey. However, in practicality, this has not been the case. According to scholarly and legal research and documentation by the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in a report given at the Second International Conference on Religious Freedom, held in Berlin in 2013, the Turkish government
has violated its own Constitution as well as the Treat of Lausanne in the following ways:

Government Interference in Patriarchal Elections

Government Interference in Patriarchal Elections. The Turkish government requires eligible candidates to be Turkish Citizens and reserves the right to veto any Candidate. It is widely believed that our own Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, was vetoed by the Turkish government in 1972.

Non-Recognition of “Ecumenical” status

Non-Recognition of “Ecumenical” status. While the rest of the world understands and respects the Ecumenical Patriarch as the Spiritual Leader of Work Orthodoxy, the Turkish government only recognizes His All Holiness as the local bishop of the Turkish Orthodox.

No legal entity.

No legal entity. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has no legal standing and cannot even own property in Turkey. Likewise, the government will not authorize work permits to individuals from foreign nations who work at the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Closing of Seminary and inability to train new clergy

Closing of Seminary and inability to train new clergy. With the closing of Halki Theological School in 1971, the Patriarchate must send its local persons wishing to study for the priesthood to foreign Theological seminaries. In many cases they do not return due to the difficulty in obtaining work permits.

Confiscation of Property

Confiscation of Property. Since 1922, thousands of properties belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been confiscated and the Patriarchate must engage in costly legal actions to try to regain its rightful properties.

The persecution, as you can see, remains to this day. The Turkish Authorities are effectively forcing the population to leave. In 1955, there was an outright sack on Christian owned businesses and took the lives of their owners. This caused many to leave and a population of nearly 500,000 in 1900 has dwindled to 2000 today.

What can we do? First of all, it is our responsibility to know these things are happening. We must know how we arrived at this situation. The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are charged to defend and promote our Holy and Great Mother Church. Creating awareness among the faithful is paramount and please know that your Archons are working diligently to combat the challenges that threatens our very Orthodox existence. If you like to learn more, please go to Archons.org.

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Please remember to pray for those who serve the Patriarchate of Constantinople and those who have been called to defend them in this newly developing hostile environment. And remember to go to Archons.org to learn more about their work.

 

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