Significance and weight of the Ecumenical
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Amateur Turkish political commentators and the famous nationalist crowd systematically challenge the ecumenical status of the Phanar Roum Orthodox Patriarchate. The warm welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch receives during his abroad trips and his place in the world protocol for officials are always juicy material for some local papers. Even while we were explaining the virtues of everlasting Turkish tolerance late last year to the visiting Pope, the issue of ecumenical status of the Orthodox Patriarch, only which Turkey repudiates, relapsed again. The issue now has a legal dimension by the absurd decision reached by the Court of Appeals.
It is very hard to understand our sensitivities. If the attribution is objected within the frame of secularism in Turkey, then no matter what we say, the Patriarch is not a civil servant of the Republic of Turkey as the Director of Religious Affairs. If the problem is to stand against EU's requirement on the subject of freedom of belief, it is cardinal to know about the insistence of the U.S. on the issue. If the issue is to scuffle with Greece, in this feud it is Russia and indeed the Patriarch of Moscow who challenges Istanbul's primacy not Athens. As if we are Orthodox and the party of dispute!
The Patriarchate is a Turkish institution that is the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world having 300 million faithful. Thanks to its primus inter pares position i.e. first among the equals within the Orthodox world the Patriarchate is among the top of hierarchy within Christian sects, religions and governments. As soon as the present Patriarch Bartholomeos took office, he enlivened the historical status of the Patriarchate before the Orthodox churches that inclined to fall behind the Iron Curtain. He brought all bishops together, including Alexei II from Moscow, in March of 1992 in Istanbul. In fact, in the eye of noteworthy Orthodox population in the new EU members from the Balkans, Phanar is an influential center having a firm spiritual and administrative weight.
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I enjoyed reading this report from this Turkish gentleman who seems to have a fairly good grasp of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its worldwide significance. He also seems to have a good "selling point" for the Ecumenical Patriarchate which Turkey could use to great advantage.
He mentions also the rivalry between Constantinople and Moscow which will prove interesting to see how this all unfolds.