17447Greek Orthodox leaders seek resolution from legislators on Turkey
- Jan 29, 2013http://www.pravmir.com/greek-orthodox-leaders-seek-resolution-from-legislators-on-turkey-3/
Greek Orthodox leaders seek resolution from legislators on Turkey
Jan 28th, 2013
Greek Orthodox church leaders are hoping state legislators will pass a
resolution calling on Turkish officials to "loosen up on their secular
stronghold" and allow for more religious freedom abroad.
State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Mayor Don Gerard on Sunday
joined Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox
Metropolis of Chicago, at Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church in
Champaign, where they announced their second attempt at passing a state
resolution asking the Turkish government to remove governmental barriers
hindering religious freedom in that country.
The "mother church" of Orthodox Christians and the Patriarch of
Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the church, are stationed in
Istanbul. The setup is not unlike the Vatican and the Pope of the Roman
Catholic Church in Italy.
The Turkish government imposes restrictions on the church: It requires
that the Ecumenical Patriarch be a Turkish citizen, and it does not
recognize the Patriarch's worldwide constituency.
The government also does not give the church any legal identity, which
means the entity cannot own any property --- even its own churches. The
church is unable to train new clergy in Turkey, and its theological
school was forcibly closed by the Turkish government.
Spokesman John Ackerman explained it this way: Imagine if the Italian
government announced it was seizing all the property of the Roman
Catholic Church and that, from now on, the Roman Catholic Pope would be
required to be Italian.
"The world would be in an uproar," Ackerman said. "That would not be
permissible, and that's what our faith has been living with."
Bishop Demetrios, the head of the Metropolis of Chicago that has 34
parishes in Illinois and another 24 across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa,
Indiana and Missouri, said the Turkish government has taken some steps
to "loosen up" on its regulations. About 360 acres of seized land and an
orphanage were recently returned to the church, but there is still much
more work to do.
"We have been making positive steps, and the government has been
receptive," the bishop said.
The bishop's visit to Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church in Champaign
on Sunday is only about a once-per-year event, and it preceded
Wednesday's feast of the Three Hierarchs, the church's namesake. After
visiting the church, he was scheduled to visit students at the Orthodox
Christian Fellowship on the University of Illinois campus.
Across the country, 42 states have already passed the resolution that
Frerichs said he plans to support. A 2007 resolution in Illinois passed
the House of Representatives but was never called for a vote in the senate.
Ackerman attributed the stall to confusion among state senators as to
what the resolution was actually about, and he hopes a better awareness
campaign will help supporters avoid that problem a second time.
Frerichs said he has little doubt that the resolution calling on the
Turkish government to remove barriers to religious freedom should pass
"If we claim to support religious freedom, then we should support it
abroad as well," Frerichs said.
Source: The News-Gazette
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