Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Turkey Nationalizes All Christian Churches

[Express UK] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement. 
The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.
Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Erdogan Protesters Storm Catholic Church in Trebizond

TRABZON. Protesters have attacked Christian places of worship in loyalty rallies for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. In Trebizond, participants stormed the Catholic Church of Our Lady and chanted  "Allahu ekber" ( "Allah is Greater"), reports the Catholic News Agency (KNA).

In addition, demonstrators are said to have flown flags of the rightist MHP party alongside Turkish ones. According to KNA, sympathizers of the "Grey Wolves" participated in the storming. After the failed coup attempt an evangelical church was also devastated. These and other reports of anti-Christian riots, however,  due to the media blackout can not be verified.

The Church in Trebizond last appeared  in the headlines in 2006  when the priest Andrea Santoro was shot dead by a Muslim. The 16 year old student had shot  the clergyman from behind and called "Allahu akbar". Later it became known that the priest had been bugged for months by police. In 2011 the Church had been attacked by a mob. (Ls)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jesuit Waldenfels: "Francis Qualifies the Importance of Theology With Casuals Words"

(Munich), the German Jesuit Hans Waldenfels sees in the fact that Pope Francis has prayed in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, "an important signal" that he "welcomed".  Increasingly  " Francis qualifies the importance of theology with his gestures and his casual words," said Waldenfels and that is a good thing. "Disappointing" to  the German Jesuit, however, is the joint declaration of Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The emeritus Bonn fundamental theologian said yesterday, according to Catholic News Agency (KNA) about the "personal interiority" Pope's prayer in a mosque: "On Muslims such gestures have a positive effect and improve the atmosphere". Now it is to be seen whether Turkey grants Christians  relief. By prayer in the Blue Mosque, says Waldfels, the Pope had "expressed great respect for the place" a sign of.
"The question whether the Pope has now prayed 'by' or 'with' the Muslims is as theologically  subtle as whether the Muslims and Christians worship the same God," said the German theologian.

Prayer in the Mosque was "Positive Sign" for Muslims, the Rest are "Niceties"

Father Hans Waldenfels (left)
Finally, says Waldenfels, as Pope Francis belongs to the Jesuit order, applies the Islamic creed "There is no God but God" just as "God is God" for Christians. The perceptions of God although different between men, still applies across all differences of time: "You can pray  everywhere."
Also encouraging for  Father Waldenfels is  that Pope Francis is qualifying the "importance" of theology "with his gestures and his casual words". The Argentine Pope ranks the practice of faith and piety with theological debates. "Theology, which is not practical, is good for nothing in his view," which had not yet been sufficiently understood only in this country. 

Disappointing for  Jesuit Waldenfels on the other hand, is the joint declaration of the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch last Sunday. It was merely, as in earlier declarations, only emphasized the  intention of unity, but it has brought nothing new. 
Text: CAPE / Giuseppe Nardi
image: Asianews / Catholic Academy Bavaria (screenshot)
Trans: Tancred

Saturday, October 11, 2014

IS Fighters Encircle Turkish Troops

Kobane Under Attack
ANKARA. Troops of the "Islamic state" (IS) have encircled 36 Turkish soldiers in northern Syria.These guard the mausoleum of Süleyman Shah, the grandfather of the first Ottoman sultan, which is the extraterritorial property of Turkey. According to Turkish newspapers there are about 1,100 Islamists  deployed.
The grave is located about 30 kilometers south of the heavily contested Kurdish city Kobane.Thousands IS-fighters have been trying for days, to conquer the border city located directly on the Syrian-Turkish border. According to observers they have also employed  heavy artillery and tanks. Opposing them are a few hundred Kurdish fighters with light weapons. They are supported by air attacks from the United States and Arab countries.
The Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, meanwhile, stressed that the government in Damascus could not support the Kurds with air strikes because of the proximity to the Turkish border. There was a risk that the machines would then penetrate the Turkish airspace.
Turkey pulls troops together
While the fighting continues, Turkey has begun to assemble  troops on their side of the border. As government Turkish newspapers report, nearly 10,000 soldiers and 35 tanks were mobilized. On Thursday the parliament in Ankara will advise about a possible deployment of ground troops in Syria and Iraq.
One suggested solution  is also a safety zone in the two countries where Turkish troops take control, to protect the inhabitants from the Islamists. Previously, Turkey has steadfastly refused to intervene against the IS   and has even tolerated activities of the terrorist organization in their own country. (Ho)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Italy Ratifies "Convention of Instanbul" -- Step to Gender-Ideology

Edit: do the Turkish people know what their politicians are up to? Ironically, the Italians signed this document on the day before Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453.

(Rome), the Italian Parliament has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on May 28th, better known as the Convention of Istanbul. The convention  has been signed by 24 European countries on the 11th of May, 2011, including Germany and Austria. The Convention has so far only been ratified by Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Portugal.

In 81 articles, the Convention served the language of gender ideology. An ideology that used common words, but means something else. My goal is the abolition of the natural sex of man and woman. To cancel the two natural genders, many "genders" will be constructed. A natural given gender is rejected. A man is not by nature a man or woman, but only by reason of his will. The individual decides whether he is straight. A self-designation, which can change as needed, and the legislature and the community have fo kindly accept without protest. Otherwise discrimination would exist.

The woman is therefore in the confused language of the Convention, not an equal legal person, because she is a person, but because she is of the female sex. The applicable legal system, the equality of all persons before the law is broken in the name of equality. The woman becomes a kind of protected category that requires special ad hoc rules to ensure her "equality", but certainly to attempt to overcome the natural gender order of husband and wife. Womanhood is to overcome the biological womanhood.

The gender emphasis reveals the underlying intention of adding more "protected categories" such as homosexuals or transgender, and thus sexual preferences under the covers, including the perversity that everything possible, but certainly it does not constitute a state agenda, to raise it the institutional level and to promote.

Italy, with five states have ratified the treaty. So in order to be put in effect, it requires at least ten states to ratify. Will Germany and Austria follow?

Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Corrispondenza Romana
Trans: Tancred
Link to Katholisches....

Monday, June 3, 2013

US Recreates Ottoman Empire

Edit: This is from Maximilian Hanlon.  We’ve made the suggestion before.   This isn’t from the Onion. It’s certainly gaining traction as reports of unrest in Turkey increase as it sends ripples across the Islamic World, here, here, here...

Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and where a secular regime was replaced by an Islamist one. So far, the German policy of keeping hidden its leadership role in its attempt to reconstitute the Ottoman Empire has succeeded.
Since the mid-1990s the United States has intervened militarily in several internal armed conflicts in Europe and the Middle East: bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of Izetbegovic's Moslem Regime in Bosnia in 1995, bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of KLA Moslems of Kosovo in 1999, bombing Libya's Gaddafi regime in support of rebels in 2010. Each intervention was justified to Americans as motivated by humanitarian concerns: to protect Bosnian Moslems from genocidal Serbs, to protect Kosovo Moslems from genocidal Serbs, and to protect Libyans from their murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Other reasons for these interventions were also offered: to gain for the United States a strategic foothold in the Balkans, to defeat communism in Yugoslavia, to demonstrate to the world's Moslems that the United States is not anti-Moslem, to redefine the role of NATO in the post-Cold War era, among others.
Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. In each, a secular regime was ultimately replaced by an Islamist one favoring sharia law and the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. The countries that experienced the "Arab Spring" of the 2010s without the help of American military intervention, Tunisia and Egypt, had also been part of the Ottoman Empire, and also ended up with Islamist regimes.

Read further at Gatestone Institute….

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shots Disturb Christians in Istanbul, Turkey

(Constantinople) At an Armenian church in Istanbul an unidentified man fired seven shots from his rifle on Sunday. Panic broke out among the believers who were gathered in the church for Easter.

The Turkish press reported that an intimidation campaign took place yesterday against Christian communities of Istanbul which concerns Surp Hovhannes about the Armenian Church. As the Armenian Archbishop Aram Atesyan said, the gunman threatened the Christians in the church, "You are too many!" As the Archbishop said, a young Armenian Christian was beaten on Sunday in front of another church in the nearby district Samatya. Other Christian communities of Istanbul were also victims of assault and intolerance in the past days.

In Atesehir a group of 40 people attacked the New Hope Lutheran Church on 27 April. They pelted the church with stones and smashed the stained glass windows. The next day, a group plundered the Greek Orthodox Church of Burgas Ada. All the incidents took place in Istanbul.

According to Archbishop Atesyan “with these attacks they want to stoke fear among the members of our communities” who in Turkey have been repeatedly victims of violence and discrimination in recent years. In 2006 the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon, in Malatya three Protestants in 2007 and 2010 in Antioch, the Catholic Bishop Padovese.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Christians in the East

Link to Katholisches...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pilgrimage: On Foot From Liechtenstein to the Far East

Chaplain Johannes Maria Schwarz will take a pilgrimage to Haran (Abraham) starting in May.

Linz ( He has already had experiences with long pilgrimages for a long time.  As a seminarian Johannes Maria Schwarz, co-founder of, went from Linz to Santiago de Composetela.  Now he is planning to take a sabbatical year as chaplain in May and would like to do, what apparently still no one has done before.

From May Johannes Maria will make a mega-pilgrimage all the way to Haran, the city of Abraham in southeast Turkey. The road there will also go through Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania, from there over Moldova, back to Ukraine and then to Russia. Georgia and Armenia are on the travel plan.

He understands the trip as a pilgrimage and is an investment “in every time of quiet and prayer”, explained Schwarz.

Chaplain Dr. Johannes Maria Schwarz is a priest of the Archdiocese of Vaduz. He is active as a guest professor at the International Theological Institute in Trumau (Grand Chancellor Christoph Cardinal Schönborn).

The will have blog updates every few days. will accompany the trip via Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, August 13, 2012

DW Story on Oldest Christian Monastery in Turkey

From the youtube account:
It's one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world: the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery in south-eastern Turkey. But the order lives in conflict with the surrounding Kurdish villages.Several lawsuits have been brought accusing the monastery of having illegally appropriated the land surrounding it. And the national forest authority is one of the plaintiffs. The monastery's abbot considers this to be a sign of religious discrimination. In the past few years, members of the Syriac Orthodox church have been returning in increasing numbers to make a fresh start in their homes around the holy mountain Tur Abdin. More than 300,000 Christians left the country in previous decades to escape persecution and oppression.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Have Archaeologists in Turkey Discovered Apostle's Tomb?

An international group of archaeologists are attempting to identify the grave of the Apostle Philipp in Turkey.

Lecce ( An international group of archaeologists are attempting to identify a grave of the Apostle Philip in Turkey. The resting place of the twelve closest followers of Jesus is located in Hieropolis near Pamukkale in the southwestern part of the country, reported the Italian newspaper >>Lecce Prima<< (Online Edition Monday). The scientific team has discovered a second church beneath the St. Philipp Church from the 5th century, which contains a Roman grave which was erected in the first century, explained the leader of the campaign, the archaeologist Francesco D'Andria of the University of Salento in Italy.

D'Andria describes the previous church as a hall church, a building whose aisles are as tall as its nave.  As to the identification of the grave of St. Phillip, the scientist is quoted by the paper as saying that it is ascribed to >>Tradition<<. The report described those taking part in the expedition as a team of 65 Italian scientists. The Apostle Philip should have suffered martyrdom in his 80th year in the vicinity of modern day Ukraine. Another tradition puts his death in southwest Turkey.

Link to

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turkey: Reopening of Orthodox Seminary at Constantinople Soon

Edit: The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports, on the other hand, that it won't because the Patriarchate refuses to compromise on "various formulas in the Constitution".  

 Metropolitan Lambrinidnidis has been named the new Abbot of the Trinity Monastery on Princes' Island.

Constantinople ( In Constantinople the expectations are increasing that the Orthodox Seminary and the Theological University on the Princes' Island of Chalki will be opened soon.  This is the sense in with which the naming of the Metropolitan of Bursa, Elpidophoros Lambrinidis, as new Abbot of Trinity Monastery, is being interpreted.  +Lambridnidis will take over the direction of the Seminary and the University.

Patriarch Bartholomaios I  held an Agape after a feastday Liturgy at Holy Mary's in Souda where he had a short meeting with Minister President Recep T. Erdogan on August 31st.  It was there that the government chief announced the return of the real-estate taken away in 1936 related to Christian "pious Establishments".

At the Agape the Patriarch said, that he is to have expressed his "contentment, his happiness and his gratitude", but also, that the non-Muslim minorities "are in expectation of important steps".  Erdogan is said to have answered:  "This is only the beginning".

If Turkey is a just state, it must proceed in the realm of justice and "not illegality",  insisted the Ecumenical Patriarch and made an indirect comment, that isn't just to "please" the non-Muslim minorities, but rather it is an amends for a serious injustice.

Erdogan's new disposition in respect to Chalki was already in August of the year before expressed by the past government chief Bülent Arinc in Constantinople at a dinner with the Ecumenical Patriarch and the members of the Christian "pious Establishments".  Arinc stressed many times that no one in Turkey should ever feel themselves to be a second class citizen. "For me personally and so long as I am the chosen representative of the government, that  there will be education available at the the reopened Seminary," said Arinc at that time.  Actually the Constitutional Courts have narrowly closed the legal conditions for the possible opening.  He hopes still that the reopening of the Seminary and the University might be realized in the conditions of the existing laws "without substantial exceptions" ,  says the serving government chief.

The Seminary on the Island of Heybeliada/Chalki is in the Marmara Sea near Constantinople, and has been closed since 1971.  Because the Ecumenical Patriarchate can't educated its own clergy any more, the personnel situation which has lasted for over 1,700 years is becoming more and more precarious.

Link to

Monday, June 13, 2011

German Politician Criticizes Turkey's Treatment of Christian Minority

Religious freedom shouldn't just be on paper.

Konstanz ( idea) The President of the CDU/CSU Factino in the Bundestag, Volker Kauder, effected a criticism of Turkey's relations with its christian minority. The recognition of the Turkish government, that all religions should have their place, must follow from deeds just as before, said Kauder to Konstanz's "Südkurier". According to his observations Turkey is continued unaltered a "politic of pulling Christian roots". Thus, there is no priestly formation allowed.

A one hundred year old Monastery like Mor Gabriel, the spiritual center of the Syriac-Orthodox Church in the area of Tur (Mountain of the Servant of God)in the Southeastern part of Turkey, is having its land put in dispute. "That doesn't work", says Kauder. Religious freedom shouldn't just be on paper. The politician continued that there are few lands in which Islam allows other religions to freely develop. The reason is that cultures imbued with Islam have no meaningful separation between religious community and the State.

The Power of Religion

As to the question why he is insisting on religious freedom, Kauder answered that a politician, for whom the Christian conception of man's image is a model, must involve the concern for human rights as well. As a Christian, says Kauder, he feels a special duty to stand by his fellow Christian brothers and sisters. He was shocked about reports of persecuted Christians who were put in stifling containers because of their faith.

At the same time he wonders at the courage of these people to sacrifice for their faith. As an example Kauder described the Catholic Bishop in the metropolis of Shanghai, Aloysius Jin. The over ninety year old Priest described his painful suffering during the Cultural Revolution's oppressive surveillance. Despite their power, the Chiense government fears the Pope in distant Rome. "That makes me conscious about what power religion can have", said Kauder.

Read original....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Turkish Government Aims to Destroy Oldest Monastery in the World

Today there is a continuing legal process in effect, while the the over 1,600 year old Monastery fights for its bare survival.  by Marianne Bruckl.
The Threatened Monastery

( On 26th of January 2011 the systematic dispossession of a Syrian-Orthodox Monastery -- built in the year 397 -- Mor Gabriel in Tur Abdin in south east Turkey began

Today the courts in Ankara gave the national treasury of the district town of Midyat and the Turkish forestry office a significant portion of the Monastery property.

Will the bell of Mor Gabriel be silenced forever? The hope of the Monks is dwindling.

First on the 26th of January the decision of the Supreme Court in Ankara hit like the crack of a whip.

24 Hectares of the Cloister propety would fall in the judgement for the national treasury of the district town Midyat -- irrespective of the documents which proved the Monasteries claims of ownership.
Click on the Slideshow with 14 Photos

The Second Blow

On the 20th of February the highest court in Ankara struck the Monastery with a second blow.

A further 27.6 Hectares of land within and outside of the Monastery wall were given to the office of forestry in Midyat.

A judgment which is a further consequence of an unfair legal process which is aimed on the state confiscation of the Christian heritage and dechristianization.

The Third Blow

The occupants fear the worst, that there will be still further cases filed against them.

So, Kuryakos Ergün -- who is the president of the Monastery foundation of Mor Gabriel -- must appear in front of the court yet again.

The complaint reads that the Monastery wall is not up to code and is built on state owned forest.

The question at present is the judgement of the highest court in Ankara for the destruction of the defensive wall.

One fears that Ergün will be punished.

The Deadly Blow

Despite the protests of European politicians, church respresentatives and human rights organizations against the arbitrariness of the process, Turkey remains intransigent.

The court decision of February 20th entitled the State to the outline of the Monastery wall.

It makes it clear that Turkey wants to drive the old established Christians out of the country.

Without a protective wall, the fruit and vegetable gardens carefully cultivated by the Monastery will be destroyed by herds of cattle which come from the surrounding Kurdish villages.

The surrender of the almost 1700 year old Monastery is an inevitability.

Thus the way would be clear for the Turks to assume one of the last witnesses of Christianity before the Islam.

They established themselves in Anatolia only in 622.

At the same time Turkey wants into the EU

Mor Gabriel is for the Christians in Southeast Anatolia a religious refuge, which up until now has drawn the faithful and tourists from all over the world.

If the Monastery is lost, then it is forseeable that the remaining Christians, who are about 2,500 - 3,000 Assyrians will also soon lose their homeland.

What is so strange is that the Turkish Premier Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was attempting to promote and strengthen the efforts of Turkey to enter the European Union.

He himself felt discriminated against in this instance -- he claims.

Erdogan criticized that it is against International Law to disallow Turks living in Germany of their national culture.

Actually these efforts, which have taken place in Germany, must also extend to protect Christians in Turkey.

If he attempts to prevent the dispossession of the Monastery of More Gabriel he could show, that his intentions are sincere.

He must protect the freedom of Christians in Turkey, to allow Aramaic language instruction and Christian religious instruction and allow priests to be educated.

Whoever seeks the recognition of human rights abroad, must promote them in his own land as well.

Because the protection of the rights of minorities, civil liberties and religious freedom is not a one way street.

It is a duty for everyone -- even for Erdogan.

Link to original,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mount Athos is Losing its Tax-Exempt Status

The Greek Government is insisting on a stronger contract so that the Orthodox State Church and also the Athos Monasteries can reach their savings goals.

Athens ( With a sharp note of protest, the Parliament will finalize a decision by Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou to withdraw the tax privileges of the Athenite Monastery, the Synaxis. This touches upon a Monastic property, which lies outside of the peninsula of Athos. Observers have predicted that this will further alienate Athos from legislation at Athens. So, earlier, the Ministry for Northern Greece in Thessaloniki took over control of the Pilgrimage Bureau to the Holy Mountain of Orthodoxy from the Monastic Republic.

The Greek Government insisted on a stronger contract so that the Orthodox National Church as well as the Monastery of Athos can stay within their budget, in order to save the nation from impending bankruptcy. The State Church is the largest land owner in the country; they were among other things, implicated in a large real-estate scandal. Unrecognized for self-determination and special status in the EU, the Monastic Republic of the "Holy Mountain of Athos" is subordinated to the Greek Department of Finance. According to the conclusion of the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire over Greece in the Peace of Lausanne in 1923, Athens protected Athos under different exemptions from duties and taxes.

Till now the Cloister of Athos has enjoyed a tax exemption. They occupy a large part of their income from real-estate in Greece outside of the Monastic Free State. There are very expensive inner-Athens properties managed by the Monastic Foundation.

Read at

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Turkey Dispossesses Syrian Orthodox Monastery

Catholic and Evangelical Churches are distraught at the judgment on Cloister Mor Gabriel

Hannover/Bonn ( great concern about the current persecution of the Syrian-Orthodox Church in Turkish has brought the leading representatives of the largest churches in Germany to a common expression.

The reason is the conflict for the property rights for the Cloister of Mor Gabriel in Tur Abdin [Mountain of the Servants of God] in the south east of the country. The recent judgment of the Court of Cassation in Ankara made against the more than 1600 year old Cloister, was explained by the president of the German Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch [Freiburg], and the EKD- Advisory President, Minister Nikolaus Schneider [Dusseldorf] in a public press conference on 9. February in Bonn and Hannover. The court had annulled a previous judgment that the property rights belong to the Cloister and have alienated most of the property of the Cloister to the State.

The Monastery of Mor Gabriel, founded in 397 is the most important Syrian Orthodox Cloister in Turkey. After the interventions of Schneider and Zollitsch were ignored, the Court of Cassation ruled that it is its position is legitimized by valid documentation, which in the lower court were admitted as evidence of property ownership. Now it is feared that the walls will be torn down which overlap the Cloister, and protect against land stealing and grazing. Additionally there is the danger that the baseless allegations against the church's superior, Archbishop Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas and the president of the Cloister Kuryakos Ergun, they had appropriated Turkish State property, which has may still have more punishable consequences.

Schneider and Zollitsch support the goal of the Cloister, to speak against the most recent judgment against the Monastery. They said this: "We expect a solution from the Turkish government, which correspond to the rule of law, which must be filled by all candidates for entrance into the European Union. We ask the German government to employ stringent measures against the Turkish Government so that religious freedom for churches and Christians will be protected and the foundations of their existence may not be further destroyed by the state."

Over 95 percent of the 72 million inhabitants of Turkey are Muslims. From the estimated 120.000 Christians there are about 4.000 belonging to Evangelical Communities. From Tur Abdin in the past ten years there are more than 300.000 Syrian Orthodox church members who have fled to Europe, because the experience of persecution, murder and pressure from Turks and Kurds.

Video available here with photos of the Monastery.

Original at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Turkey: 'Seventh Church' of the Apocalypse is Found

"Church in Laodicea" has been located with underground radar signals -- The structure is in its basic and original state.

Ankara ( Archeologists have found the so-called "Seventh Church of Asia" from the biblical testimony of St. John.  Turkish Minister of Culture, Ertugrul Gunay said  for the Turkish press service [Tuesday] upon a visit to the excavation.

The antique city Ladoicea [Laodikeia on Lykos today's Cürüksu Cayi] in the city of Phrygia mentioned in the cryptic Apocalypse at the end of the New Testament mentioned as the place of the seventh Christian church [Apocalyse: 3,14-22]. Each of the seven churches [ says 'communities'] - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardes, Philadelphia and Laodicea -- thus contains an epistle to the baptized.

According to reports of the dig's director Celal Simsek the Church was located with subterranean radar.  The structure is in its basic and original state.

Minister Gunay spoke after a field inspection of the exciting find.  He announced that he would present further digs in the Summer for the world press.

The city of Laodicea was also the location of the Council of Laodicea in the 4th Century.

Link to the original,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkey: Bartholomew I Sees Hope For the Ecumenical Patriachate: And Reunion

Patriarch Bartholomaios I hopes for the re-opening of the Seminary of Chalki by 2011 -- 15 Diaspora-Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including Metropolitan Staikos of Austria, have Turkish citizenship.

Constantinople ( Bartholomaios I, Greek-Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, sees signs for an improvement of the situation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey. In an interview with "Kathpress" on Monday afternoon in the Phanar in Istanbul he said, it is very certain, that the Seminary in Chalki will be reopened in 2011. Bartholomew referred to the most recent address of the Turkish Vice Prime minister Bülent Arinc, who had explained in a TV-Interview, that Chalki must be re-opened again, because Christians in Turkey had the right, to educate their own Clergy and Theologians.

Chalki was closed in 1971 by the Turkish Authorities in a train of prohibitions against private Schools. While private Universities were in the mean time, however, allowed for a long time to open, the same did not apply to Chalki. The reopening of the Seminary belongs also to the central requirements by the EU of Turkey in connection with discussions for entry to the EU.

After 40 years it has been pressing on time, to address their own priest shortage by educating them again, said Patriarch Bartholomew I. He is much more optimistic than earlier, that the Turkish Government will finally make the way for reopening free.

As another very positive signal on the side of the Turkish Government the Patriarch cited that the Turkish Government has reinstated the citizenships of 15 Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who are active abroad; among them is also the Metropolitan of Austria, Michael Staikos.

According to a Turkish proposal the Patriarchal Office may only be occupied by one of Turkish citizenship. Not least because they were in any case only 15 more Bishops for the office in question, of whom 11 are already over 70 years old.

Recognition of Ecumenical Dialogue

The Patriarch did not want to directly address the most recent full assembly of the Catholic-Orthodox Dialog commission, which was held in Vienna and took place without substantial progress. He has still not been informed over the particulars of the Dialog. He reinforced, however, the desire of the Orthodox to travel further along the way of Ecumenism, till the full unity of the Church is finally reached.

He also reinforced this assertion with the consideration that the Orthodoxy
was resolved in its own Synod in the Phanar, to take up the dialogue again, following when the 2000 Full Meeting of Baltimore was put on ice.

But not only with the Catholic Church, we also strove for dialogue with the Reformed and Oriental churches, said Bartholomew I.; The same is also valid for relations to Islam and to Judaism. What especially leads to this dialogue, is that it requires a sound education, and therefore, the re-opening of Chalki, maintains the Patriarch.

Positive Signals and Unresolved Problems

As a positive signal, observers also recently noted the willingness of the Turkish authorities that the Orthodox Church henceforth once a year -- on the 15th of August -- may celebrate a church service in the Cloister Church of Sumela south of the Black Sea City of Trabzon. There were 1,500 Christians who came to Sumela for the first Mass in 88 years. Patriarch Bartholomew I. presided. The church was despoiled since the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1922 and became thereafter a cultural monument.

The Turkish Minister President Tayyip Erdogan had rejected pressure from nationalist circles critical of the service. Turkey has nothing to lose if a thousand or two thousand Christians were to come and celebrate their Service, Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Turkish media.

A great problem remains still in the unresolved question of the rights of recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The Turkish authorities recognize neither the title of the Ecumenical Patriarch, nor the responsibility of the Patriarchate for entire Orthodox world. They officially view Bartholomew I. merely as the highest Pastor of the few thousand remaining Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey.

While in any event the already small number of Greek Orthodox faithful in Turkey is conceived as consistently sinking, around 3,5 Million believers in parts of Greece as well as in the Diaspora in North- and South America, Middle and Western Europe and Australia are directly under the authority of the Patriarchate.

Copyright 2010 Katholische Presseagentur, Österreich. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Turkish Authorities Considering the Reopening of Hagia Sophia for Christian Worship

The director of the state sponsored Islamic Research Center has made a new proposal toward reopening buildings for religious purposes.

Ankara [] In the newly burning conflict surrounding Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, a leading adviser of the Turkish Religious Office has proposed that the historical Church should be open for Muslim prayers on workdays and for Christian Liturgies on Sundays. This could go a long way to solving the tug of war surrounding the Hagia Sophia which won't just be a comprise, said Mehmet Akif Aydin, director of the State sponsored Research Center (ISAM), to "Zaman" (Tuesday). One such solution would also reinforce the bonds between Muslims and Christians and the readiness of both faith communities to coexist more peacefully.

Although the Hagia Sofia has not been used for more than 80 years for religious purposes, more recently attempts of Islamic and Christian groups have advocated prayers or religious services under her domes.

The Church, built in the Fourth Century was for a millennium, the most important Church in Christendom. After the sack of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottomans it served another 500 years as the most important mosque in the Ottoman Empire.

In the Turkish Republic the building served as a cultural monument since 1934. In order to avoid inter religious conflict, it has been since then no longer permitted to be used for religious purposes -- neither Christian nor Muslim.

Copyright 2010 Katholische Presseagentur, Wien, Österreich Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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Photo Credit: Copyright 2008 - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turkey wants St Nick back [To put in a museum]

It's very clear that while the Turkish Government might understand tourism and museums, they have no concept of the sacramental character of St. Nicholas' relics, which have been venerated for centuries where they are in Bari. Furthermore, if they had been left in Bari, considering the record of Turkish governments of the past with regard to the frequent persecutions of Catholics, it's unlikely these relics would have seen the 21st Century in their Myrna.

Turkey wants St Nick back

ANKARA - TURKEY will ask for the return of the bones of Saint Nicholas, who Father Christmas is modelled on, from their display in Italy, local media reported on Friday.

Saint Nicholas, from the modern-day town of Demre on southern Turkey's Mediterranean coast, is, according to tradition, the ancestor of Father Christmas, but his remains were stolen by Italian pirates in the 11th century.

'These bones should be exposed here and not in a town of pirates' in Bari, said Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay, quoted in the newspaper Milliyet. 'If we build a museum in this town (Demre), naturally the first thing we will ask for are the remains of Father Christmas.'

Friday, December 11, 2009

Priest of Assyrian Church Threatened in Turkey

Armenian Weekly 10 December 2009
By Ramazan Yavuz & Serdar Sunar

Following a referendum banning mosque minarets in Switzerland, three unidentified persons visited the 1,750-year-old Assyrian/Syriac Church of Virgin Mary in Diyarbakir, Turkey, and allegedly threatened the priest, Yusuf Akbulut, by saying, "Switzerland is banning minarets and we will ban bell towers to you. You will demolish the bell tower by next Friday.”

Akbulut informed the police of the threat to demolish the bell towers. He is now receiving protection by the police, and made the following statement:

"Last Friday, i.e. on the 4th of this month [December], my church and I were threatened. Three persons in their forties visited the church at 14:00 hours last Friday. They knocked on the door of my house inside the church and asked me to come outside. In the courtyard of the church, these three persons that I do not know asked me if the church had a bell tower. When I told them that it did, they said, "You will demolish this bell tower. Switzerland is banning minarets and we will ban bell towers to you. You will demolish this bell tower by next Friday.” When I told them that this was a historic church with an ancient bell tower and that the foundations (directorate) and the state would react, they said for the second time, "Go and complain to whoever you want. This bell tower will not remain here. We will take the necessary action,” and left. Then I filed a complaint to the police. Now the police are seeking the three persons who threatened me by checking the camera records.”

Noting that he would not destroy the 600-year-old church bell in any way, Akbulut stated that the minaret ban in Switzerland had nothing to do with him, and added: "We, the Syriacs, have been living in these territories for 6-7,000 years. We have a deep-rooted history. Who can dare demolish this bell tower by asserting the minaret ban in Switzerland as a pretext? We do not approve of the minaret ban. Switzerland should let them construct minarets in mosques. Everyone has the right to worship freely. We all pray to God.”

Noting that five families resided in the church, and around 10 other Christian families were in the city center of Diyarbakir, Akbulut said, "As the Syriac community, for centuries we led a peaceful life with the other people residing on these territories. We never did any harm to anyone. It is very wrong to hold us accountable for the minaret ban in Switzerland.” (...)

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