Legal ruling against Patriarch attacked by Church leaders: CEN 9.07.07 p 9. September 7, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Greek Orthodox.
A Turkish Court ruling that stripped the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew II of his title of “Ecumenical” has been condemned by the leaders of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC).
“It is a cause of great sadness to us that Your All Holiness’ entitlement to use the word ‘Ecumenical’ in your title is in question”, stated CEC secretary general Archdeacon Colin Williams in an Aug 27 letter to the Patriarch.
CEC “could think of no other church leader in Europe who is so naturally recognised as a key figure in the ecumenical aspirations of the churches of Europe,” he said.
On June 26, the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals ruled the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a religious body regulated by Turkish law and was only permitted to perform religious functions for Turkey’s Greek Orthodox minority. The Patriarch may not use the title “ecumenical” the court held, and the Patriarchate had no greater standing under law.
Turkish prosecutors acted upon the ruling on Aug 21, summoning Bartholomew for questioning following his use of the title at an Orthodox youth conference held earlier that month in Istanbul.
On Aug 27 Archdeacon Williams offered his support to Bartholomew, writing the “Title ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ is one which goes back more than 1000 years and that throughout that time it has not simply been an empty form of words, but has symbolised a real commitment on the part of your predecessors to engage with churches of other traditions across Europe.”
WCC general secretary Dr. Samuel Kobia followed suit on Aug 29 giving the WCC’s “firm support” for his place within Christendom.
Writing in the English-language Turkish Daily News, Cengiz Aktar, a professor of European studies at Bahcesehir University, called the Court decision “absurd”, and noted the current Islamist-leaning government had “much to learn” from the Ottoman’s in working with the country’s Christian minority.
The Patriarch of Constantinople is considered “first among equals” among Orthodox Christian leaders and holds the title “Ecumenical” in recognition of his spiritual role.