INDIANAPOLIS, IN: 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 Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and Order of Saint Andrew (Archon) Regional Commanders Gus M. Pablecas, John G. Manos, and Lazaros Kircos, are proud to announce passage today by the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee of Senate Resolution 2 (SR2), which is the Order of Saint Andrew Religious Freedom Resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Lead by Metropolis of Detroit Chancellor Fr Dean Hountalas and Archon Regional Commanders Gus Pablecas and Lazaros Kircos, together with Fr William Bartz, Fr Lucas Christensen, Fr Paul Bemis, Archon Chris Rongos, and Metropolis of Chicago Media Relations Director John Ackerman, joined by numerous Greek Orthodox parishioners testified before the important Indiana State Senate Judiciary Committee. Also speaking before the committee in support of Indiana Senate Resolution 2 was Indiana State Senator Lonnie Randolph and State Representative Bob Morris, who also committed to moving the resolution through the Indiana House of Representatives soon.

This hearing before the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee was seen as the major test of support for the resolution and an important indicator for the future action in Indiana. The Senate Judiciary Committee responded with an complete and absolute vote of approval and support. Senate Resolution 2 will now move forward for a vote by full Indiana State Senate and then to the House of Representatives.

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, 45 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 have been 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 calls attention to are:

1) Government Interference in Election of Ecumenical Patriarchate – The Turkish government insists on approving the selection of the Ecumenical Patriarch 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 administrative affairs , and

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.

Contact: John C. Ackerman
Director of Media Relations



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