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On Reopening Hagia Sophia

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  • MIGREEK@aol.com
    Order of St. Andrew the Apostle Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America www.archons.org Archons News On Reopening Hagia Sophia 3/22/2006 A Misguided
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2006
      Order of St. Andrew the Apostle
      Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America


      Archons News

      On Reopening Hagia Sophia


      A Misguided Campaign that Demeans the Real Survival Struggle of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate which is at the Precipice of Extinction due to the Systematic
      Policies of Religious Persecution by the Government of Turkey

      Many readers may have received an email requesting them to sign a petition
      supporting the "restoration and reopening" of Hagia Sophia. The email states
      that this petition would oppose Turkey''s entry into the European Union unless or
      until the Turkish government "restored" Hagia Sophia (currently a museum) to
      a church.

      To my mind, Hagia Sophia is the most magnificent edifice in the world. I
      believe that its mosaics, particularly the 14th century Deisis with its depiction
      of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Forerunner, are among the
      greatest works of art ever conceived!

      However, this campaign is misguided and lamentable. It demeans the current
      survival struggle that is unfolding before us regarding the life of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate to which the world community and the Orthodox faithful have
      barely awakened. The call to action to which all women and men of conscience
      should respond is the call to protect the living institution of the Ecumenical
      Patriarchate of Constantinople.

      For the greater part of eighteen centuries, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has
      preserved and passed on the Christian message. Through countless and
      unimaginable hardships it has remained as a testament to faith and the enlightment for
      all mankind.

      Over the course of the last several decades, elements in the Turkish
      government have systematically moved to extinguish the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Not
      only has an environment of religious intolerance been fomented, certain members
      of the Turkish state have persecuted the Orthodox clergy and laity, closed
      down its only theological school and confiscated its properties. The litany of
      aggressive persecutions is vast and ghastly.

      Instead of being beguiled in the comfortable click of an email signature
      endorsing a petition to "restore and reopen" Hagia Sophia, let us all commit to
      taking profound action to ensure the perpetual health of the Ecumenical
      Patriarchate. Here are some of the many things you can do:

      1. Make a donation to the Order of Saint Andrew for its Patriarchal Defense
      Initiatives. These initiatives will support legal actions and seeking
      governmental intervention against the repression of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the
      courts and governments of the United States, Europe and the Middle East;

      2. Write President George W. Bush, copying Secretary of State Rice and House
      Speaker Dennis Hastert, and your Senators and Congressmen, your state, city
      and local representatives stating something like the following: America was
      established, in part, because of the desire for religious freedom. The First
      Amendment makes it very clear that freedom of worship is a fundamental human right
      recognized by the Founding Fathers and the framers of the United States
      Constitution. Turkey, as an ally of the United States, ought to recognize legally
      the Ecumenical Patriarchate; return its confiscated properties back to the
      Mother Church; not interfere in Patriarchal elections or in the Ecumenical
      Patriarchate''s canonical governance; and immediately reopen Halki Theological School
      which was forcibly closed in 1971. For Turkey to join the European Union it
      must act like Europeans and Americans; i.e. recognize fundamental religious
      freedom and inalienable human rights.

      3. Contact our brothers and sisters of all faith and creeds, whether they be
      Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant--Muslim or Jewish and ask them to join in a
      united stance for religious tolerance and freedom of faith.

      These are the true calls to action to which we must respond. Let us resolve
      to ourselves and the world that a true tragedy of our generation--the
      extinguishment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

      Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
      Archon Aktouarios
      National Commander, Order of St. Andrew the Apostle
      Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America

      For more information go to www.archons.org

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