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EP sympathizes w/Protests, appeals for Halki re-opening, remembers Syrian bps

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Patriarch-Bartholomew-sympathises-with-Gezi-Park-protests,-remembers-bishops-abducted-in-Syria-28492.html   07/17/2013 14:42
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      http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Patriarch-Bartholomew-sympathises-with-Gezi-Park-protests,-remembers-bishops-abducted-in-Syria-28492.html
       
      07/17/2013 14:42

      TURKEY
      Patriarch
      Bartholomew sympathises with Gezi Park protests, remembers bishops abducted in
      Syria
       
      NAT da Polis

      For the Ecumenical Patriarch, the desire for democracy and
      justice is growing in Turkish society even though it creates "divisions and
      polarisation." He calls on the Turkish government to work for the release of the
      two abducted prelates from the Patriarchate of Antioch, and to keep its promise
      to reopen the Halki Theological School.


      Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Ramadan has not stopped anti-government protests, which
      began with the events of Gezi Park. At an iftar (the traditional dinner after
      the daily fast during Ramadan) offered by the mayor of Istanbul to the heads of
      non-Muslim religious minorities, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I showed
      his interest in and sympathy for the protests, which are a sign of the growing
      desire for democracy and justice in Turkish society.
      Turkish and foreign authorities were present at the meal to which the
      patriarch was invited. On this occasion, Bartholomew expressed his thoughts on
      the unrest that trouble Turkey, but also on the fate of Christianity in the
      Middle East.
      In a veiled reference to the protests in Gezi Park, the patriarch said, "We
      are excited and joyful witnesses to important facts that seek to find a solution
      to long-standing situations that have accumulated over the years in Turkish
      society even though they cause divisions and polarisation."
      Bartholomew also expressed appreciation for "the many steps taken by the
      current government and Prime Minister Erdogan, on issues affecting minorities,
      who have been discriminated against and have endured quite a lot of
      suffering."
      "Despite the difficulties experienced," he added, "we have managed to survive
      and our coexistence in Turkish society resembles a variegated garden, where
      flowers are able to live side by side."
      However, "I wonder and cannot understand," he noted, "how it is that Turkey,
      which is looking for solutions to the Kurdish question and ways to reform its
      constitution for a more overt democratisation of society, is not able to re-open
      the Theological School in Halki, improperly closed for 42 years, despite
      much-repeated and hopeful promises. "
      "All this," Bartholomew said, "shows how in this society it is still
      difficult to reach and take certain important decisions."
      In his brief but tough speech, Bartholomew mentioned the kidnapping
      of Paulos and Ioannis, metropolitans in the Patriarchate of Antioch
      and Syrian Jacobite Church, expressing concern for their fate and inviting all
      those present at the iftar dinner to pray for them.
      At the same time, he appealed to the Turkish government to intensify the
      search for their whereabouts. The two prelates were kidnapped by rebel groups,
      opponents of the regime in Damascus, supported by Turkey.
      "Their seizure," said Bartholomew, "has much troubled the Christian world and
      is raising many concerns about the fate of all Christians in the Middle East,
      which is becoming increasingly dangerous."
      At the end of his speech, there was a muted applause. For his part, the mayor
      of Istanbul expressed his usual stance in favour of reopening
      Halki.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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