Friday, October 15, 2010
Ecumenical Patriarch on Turkey in His Own Words
Bartholomew also said "we stand before perhaps the greatest challenge of history: namely, the challenge to tear down the wall of separation between East and West, between Muslims and Christians, between all religions and cultures of the world. As stewards of this unique historical moment, our challenge is to bridge the great divide and recognize our common human values. This is surely God's model for our world."
The Patriarch went on to say that "upon the creation of the Turkish Republic and its international recognition, numerous radical reforms were introduced aimed at founding a new secular state, including the emphasis on religious tolerance known as 'laik'. The result was the abolition of legal basis for all religious authorities. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Armenians, the Chief Rabbinate, the Roman Catholics and Protestants - all of whom existed under the Ottoman rule - were no longer recognized as foundations of public law."
He further stressed that "in an effort to apply absolute secular rule and impose a separation of church and society, during the early years of the Turkish Republic, the state ingnored the existence of these minorities, even resorting to pejorative description of the Ecumenical Patriarch as 'chief priest'."
The Patriarch then underlined that "for us, as Orthodox Christians, the ultimate consequence of such a policy was the forced closure in 1971 of the Theological School of Halki, the sole institution for training clergy locally and internationally since 1844."