A Statement by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation on Persecution of the Greek Orthodox Community in Turkey, January 25, 1978, New York City

Introduction

Since 1965 in the United States, we the “Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation,” and official group of churchmen, university and seminary professors, have been investigating matters of mutual concern between Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The participants of this Consultation have been officially designated by the representative ecclesiastical authorities.

At our most recent consultation which took place in New York City, January 24-25, 1978, this statement of concern was drafted, in the first place, by the Roman Catholic participants. They propose to submit to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, with the request that the Conference consider it as a matter of grave significance and take appropriate action. The Orthodox participants in the Consultation unanimously concur in the positions taken below. The statement is issued therefore as a formal statement of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation.

A Statement of Concern:

In recent months the Turkish government has taken a serious of injurious actions against the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey. This Consultation is deeply concerned about this grave situation that violates even the most basic human rights. The history of restrictive measures and outright persecutions by the Turkish officials against the Greek Orthodox minority community, reflected in recent years by the closing of the historic Theological School of Halki, is already well known. However, in more recent times, further discriminatory measures have been imposed by Turkish authorities which limit the leaders of the Greek Orthodox community in the exercise of their legitimate religious rights. For example, millions of liras in taxes have been imposed by Turkish authorities upon the schools and churches of the Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul. At the same time, the Turkish government has refused to issue passports and permits for certain hierarchs and many Turkish citizens of Greek descent to travel abroad. By such actions Turkish officials have seriously interfered with the exercise of the worldwide religious responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

These violations of human rights and religious freedom are in themselves reasons for protest. In addition, we, the members of this Consultation wish to underline the historic significance of the Orthodox See of Constantinople in its present geographical situation for witnessing to the continuity of the Christian Church. The oppression of the Greek Orthodox in Turkey and the threat to the very existence there of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are all the more serious in this period when the cause of religious unity and world peace has been fostered by the growing relationships between the Ecumenical Patriarch and all the Orthodox Churches with the late Pope John XXIII, His Holiness Pope Paul VI and with Christians everywhere.

We express our shock and outrage at these actions and we dedicate ourselves in fraternal concern to continued protests against these measures.


Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great