Sunday, December 23, 2007

Orthodox Dying out In Turkey?

This is depressing. I have to admit Turkey is a mystery to me. It is a land I would very much like to visit. There are great positives there as well as negatives. This though article in the Economist though is pretty infuriating at Why Christians feel under threat in today's Turkey.

Hereis an excerpt:
Respecting the religious freedom of non-Muslims is essential to Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union. Laws against Christians repairing their churches have been relaxed. Overriding objections from pious constituents, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party has just restored an ancient Armenian church in eastern Turkey. School textbooks are being purged of an anti-Western bias.
Yet many Christian grievances remain. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, resists calls to reopen the Greek Orthodox Halki seminary on Heybeli island off Istanbul, shut down in 1971. Turkey refuses to recognise the ecumenical title of the Greek Orthodox patriarch, Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of over 200m Orthodox Christians. The patriarch, a loyal Turkish citizen, has lobbied hard for Turkey's EU membership. But this has only reinforced suspicions among ultra-nationalist detractors, who accuse him of trying to “Christianise” Turkey and wanting a Vatican-style state in the heart of Istanbul.
Never mind that the Greek Orthodox church in Istanbul has dwindled to 4,000 souls, many of them too old to follow their children abroad. Nor that the patriarch must under Turkish law be a Turkish citizen, a rule which is making it difficult to find a successor to Bartholomew I. “They [ie, the Turks] apparently won't regard the conquest of Constantinople as complete until the patriarchate ceases to exist and all Christians have been frightened away,” suggests one restorer of icons in Istanbul.
The government has yet to approve a draft bill to help non-Muslims recover thousands of properties that have been confiscated by the state and either sold or left to decay. The Aya Yorgi church in Istanbul's Edirnekapi district, which was badly damaged in an earthquake, is one sad example. Its walls are cracked, its roof is leaking; a marble angel lies in pieces on the floor. “All we ask is to be permitted to rescue our church, but we cannot hammer a single nail,” complains Bishop Dionysios, a Greek Orthodox prelate who still conducts services there.
Many Christians concede that AK has treated them better than its secular predecessors did. They blame the deep state for their recent troubles. But the excuse of the deep state's power is wearing thin after AK's big victory in July's general election. “With such a strong mandate, the government's failure to meet our demands can only mean one thing, that the deep state is still in charge,” says a Christian priest. Or perhaps that AK believes in religious freedom for Muslims, but not Christians

This is a travesty. I understand that the whole Greek/Turkey thing is in the mix. But the Orthodox are dying out there. That is pretty unbelievable. All through what appears to be Govt action

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it really unbelievable?

You should perhaps read some History books about how the Turks came to Europe, the atrocities, genocides, massacres, pogroms, etc.

How can anyone be so naive?