Posts Tagged ‘Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’

Turkey Reacts to Patriarch Bartholomew

December 21, 2009

Well, here’s no surprise – Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu doesn’t like what Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has to say about the persecution of Christians in Turkey and their taking up of the Cross.   He “graciously” allowed His Holiness  an opening for apology and back pedaling when he said

We regard the use of the crucifixion simile as extremely unfortunate…. I would like to see this as an undesired slip of the tongue.

If you watched the achingly sad interview you’ll know that every word Patriarch Bartholomew used was carefully and thoughtfully chosen for just the message it conveyed – a passive-aggressive and unreasonable government that unfairly singles out the remnants of a conquered ethnic group that just won’t go away fast enough.  One thing that so affected me about the interview was the poignancy of Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the last remaining Byzantine Greeks, trying to preserve the faith in what was once their own country, oppressed by the muslim descendents of what were once faithful Orthodox Christians.  It’s the same feeling you get with the Copts – how galling that they are a minority in their own country, under persecution by those who, centuries before, were once Copts themselves.

60 Minutes also posted a couple of extra videos that further highlight the de-Christianization of Turkey and the land of Palestine.   These two clips reinforce the sadness and thorough way in which Islam has supplanted the Christian faith in the Holy Land and Turkey.  It is not the “truth” of Islam at work, but the Great Deceiver working through the tide of history, conquest and persecution. (By the way, Dr. Maria C. Khoury, seen in the interview in Taybeh, Palestine, is a popular author of children’s books and a tireless supporter of the last remaining Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land.  Pray for her and for the Christians of Taybeh.)  

For an earlier post, click here to go to Patriarch Bartholomew on 60 Minutes

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on 60 Minutes

December 18, 2009

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.  

Canon 28 and the Ecumenical Patriarchate

May 13, 2009

I really like George Michalopulos’  writing.  Finally, someone has written clear, concise background and analysis of jurisdictional issues and the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s jockying for power in the US.   The American Orthodox Institute  has quite a few articles on these issues, but for a good overview try this one on the history of Metropolinitates and Canon 28 and the Ecumenical Patriarchate’.    

When you’ve finished those, here’s an excerpt from Metropolitan Jonah’s interview with the Russian Patriarchate’s news service during his recent trip, with specific emphasis on his vision for Orthodoxy in America and the OCA’s autocephaly.   This is a man who may have recently apologized to the Patriarchate Bartholomew for being too honest in an age of political correctness and diplomatic niceties, but he isn’t taking back the basic message – the Orthodox Church in America has no intention of looking to Constantinople for its leadership.   Personally, I think Metropolitan Jonah’s leadership style points up another characteristic in which America differs from the Old World – up front honesty – we lay our cards on the table even when it means stepping on some toes (how’s that for some blatant metaphor mixing!)

Here’s Metropolitan Jonah laying out some honesty in his interview-

The Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as some other Local Orthodox Churches do not recognize our autocephaly. And if they want to make any decisions affecting our life, this is only possible with our consent. Otherwise, it will be a great sin against us.

Obama’s Field Trip to Hagia Sophia

April 7, 2009

Come along this week on the official Obama tour of Hagia Sophia – the greatest cathedral the world has ever seen.   (Bet no one bothered to ask the Ecumenical Patriarch if he wanted to go along for the bus ride.)   Wouldn’t you love to have heard the #*%! spin they put on the Fall of Constantinople and the wonderful way in which they’ve respected the rights and religious freedom of their Orthodox subjects.  It has been reported that  President Obama mentioned to the Prime Minister Erdogan that it would be a nice reflection of Turkey’s readiness for EU membership if they allowed the re-opening of the Halki Theological School .  (Isn’t he like the third US President to bring this up?)

Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can come to visit here anytime they want.

"Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can visit here anytime they want. As long as they don't pray."

"Look there Mr. President, that is the exact spot where the infidel Patriarch was butchered in 1453."

"The gift shop is right over there Mr. President. We have a nice selection of commemorative prayer rugs and t-shirts. My personal favorite is the one that says 'Keeping it real since 1453'.

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

Saint Tikhon and the Unity of the American Church

April 7, 2009

tikhon

Today is the celebration of the repose of one of the greatest American saints – Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America.  He served as Archbishop of the entire North American continent at a time when communication and travel were difficult,  when no well-organized, central administrative structure governed the church in this country, when there were no seminaries, and the faithful were either new immigrants without churches or had been unpastored for decades in remote areas.  His time in America was relatively short – just nine years between 1898 and 1907, but in that time he transformed the Orthodox Church in America and gave it a vision and mission for self-governance and independence.

Ironically, the Orthodox Church in this country has entered a period that, I believe, will test the very limits of what Saint Tikhon envisioned and worked to achieve.  A series of events and actions are taking place right now which, if they do not seem divinely guided, at least are the kind of events that may one day be seen as the opening shots in a very strident conflict between the Old World and the New. 

1.   The election of Metropolitan Jonah to lead the Orthodox Church in America (the only autocephalous Orthodox Church in this country and a grandchild of Saint Tikhon).  Metropolitan Jonah is the strongest voice for American Orthodoxy – a hierarch who isn’t mincing words about the urgency for Orthodox administrative unity in America.

2.   The reigning in of the Antiochian Bishops of North America and Canada and the re-enforcement of submission to the Patriarch of Antioch, supported wholeheartedly by Metropolitan Philip.  

3.   The anticipated Pan Orthodox Synod  that is being convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  Preparatory meetings are already scheduled for this summer.  Big topic of discussion – the church in the diaspora.

4.   Patriarch Bartholomew I’s strongly worded “suggestion” that American Orthodox fulfillment and unity are best achieved by submitting to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.   If you have a strong gag reflex, please be warned when you read the speech given by the EP Holy Synod’s Chief Secretary, Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadisthis, to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary on March 16th. 

Let me just make one observation here to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s proposal….. BAAW HAW HAW HAW.  Sorry, I don’t know how to write up the corresponding sound of me snorting my morning coffee all over the screen.   With all due respect Your Eminence, it seems that the more desperate your situation becomes in the oppressive, hostile, crushing state of Turkey, the more you resort to fancy tap dancing to extend your influence, power and importance over the Orthodox faithful in the diaspora.   We all feel for your difficult situation but this is America.  At least for us in the OCA, we’ve been handling things on or own for a good long while now – not always successfully, but we ain’t about to turn against the work of Saint Tikhon and go back to the Old Country, to an isolated, besieged patriarchate which, under the “freedom” of the Turkish constitution and the threat of terrorist attack, has zilcho autonomy and self-determination.   Let’s be frank – Your Eminence has been overseeing a slow death, 500 years in the making, while Orthodoxy in this country is young, alive and moving forward.  And we can go forward as co-workers and co-equals in Christ, but we won’t be doing it holding our Daddy’s hand.  

Metropolitan Jonah put this so much more eloquently than I do in his sermon during a Pan Orthodox vespers  at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas on April 5th (We had some parishioners attend and I can’t wait to get their impressions.)  I absolutely love Metropolitan Jonah!  This is the kind of leadership we have not had in the OCA in decades and it seems only by the providence of God that his election coincides with these new attacks on American Orthodox independence.

As Saint Tikhon observed in a speech given in March 1907 during the first All American Sobor (the precursor to the present OCA All American Councils) shortly before he returned to Russia (and you will excuse his use of the word “Russian” Orthodoxy – he was after all preaching to a predominantly Russian audience) 

…the more I study the history of the Orthodox Church in this country, the more I am convinced that our work here is God’s work; that God himself is helping us; that when it seems as though everything we do is ready to fail — the work of Russian Orthodoxy — on the contrary, it not only does not die, but grows in new strength and brilliance.