This Sunday, December 20th at 7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be interviewed on 60 Minutes about the Church and the difficulties it faces in Turkey. The short trailer surprised me and I hope it reflects the tone of the whole segment. I’ve never heard His Holiness speak so directly about the oppression the Church endures. Patriarch Bartholomew, aside from being a religious leader, is a well-versed politician. His politically sensitive words always seem chosen to keep him balanced between drawn knives. This interview is sure to raise someone’s blood pressure.
While I’m at odds with the Patriarch’s moves to control the American diaspora and his media-fueled elevation to the role of Orthodox “pope”, I still respect him as an Orthodox Patriarch and can certainly understand where he’s coming from on this issue. This is a fight for the very survival of the Christian faith in one of its oldest communities, and fighting these days is about media presence.
I hope this news story will do some small part to expose the true nature of the Turkish government even while it scrambles to put its best face on for the EU admission process. What I think is obvious is that the Turkish government and the country’s rising Muslim fanaticism will finish off the Turkish Christian minority in the 21st century if something drastic is not done soon.
If you’re thinking this is overreaction, how about a plot by Turkish naval personnel to kill a target list of approximately 939 non-muslims and to bomb homes and places of worship. Or the Syriac Orthodox priest ordered under threat of death by muslim extremists to tear down his church’s bell tower as reparation for the Swiss minaret ban. I’ve got a limit here or I could give you a hundred more examples of threats, attacks, vandalism, and discrimination directed against Christians in Turkey.
So by all means, European Union, admit Turkey and see what you get.