Turkey, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and 60 Minutes

  • Written by:

Theodoros Karakostas
The segment aired by 60 Minutes on the Ecumenical Patriarchate this past December was a remarkable breakthrough in bringing attention to the plight of Greek Orthodoxy in Asia Minor. The
Patriarch’s public expressions of criticism toward the Turkish government should lead both Greece and the Greek American community, as well as Orthodox Christians in general to rally in support of the Holy and Great Church of Christ at Constantinople.

The situation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been very difficult with the Phanar having been bombed six times between 1993 and 2004, and with the infamous Grey Wolves ever since conducting
violent demonstrations outside the Patriarchate where the Patriarch has been burned in effigy. In 2007,
Turkish Army officers were arrested for plotting the assassinations of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that the political situation in Turkey is bound to improve. Turkey is in the midst of an Islamic upheaval. Even without the Islamic phenomenon that Prime Minister Erdogan has been leading, Turkey would remain in the hands of hardline and racist Generals who adhere to the racist views
of the dictator Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the man who presided over the systematic slaughter of the Greeks at Smyrna in September 1922, in addition to completing the genocide of the Pontian and Asia Minor
Greeks, as well as those of the Armenians and Assyrians.

The segment that aired on 60 Minutes was of extreme importance because international attention and exposure of Turkey matters more than ever before. Turkey’s leadership (both political and military) is not inclined to listen to reason and will not now reverse its longstanding policy to dislodge the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The closure of the Halki School of Theology in 1971 occurred following failed efforts in 1923 and 1964 by Ankara to expel the Patriarchate. Having been pressured by the great powers not to expel the Great Church, the Turks turned their wrath on the Greek Orthodox faithful immediately in 1923 following the conclusion of the Lausanne negotiations.

At least 300,000 Constantinopolitan Greeks were driven out and only 110,000 Greeks were permitted to remain in the City between the period of the slaughter at Smyrna and the conclusion of the Lausanne Conference in the Summer of 1923. A campaign of terror orchestrated by the defrocked Papa Efthim was begun against the Ecumenical Patriarchate (with the full support of Kemal himself when the heretic priest was considered useful to Turkish aims).

Today, the Kemalist establishment in Turkey continues to support Efthim’s creation, the obscene entity known as the “Turkish Orthodox Church” operated by descendants of the traitorous cleric enjoys the support of Turkish intelligence which boosts it to rival the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Apparently, an old
Greek Church was being used as the headquarters for “Ergenekon” an extremist movement that was
seeking two years ago to overthrow the Turkish government and to assassinate Christian leaders.

Prime Minister Erdogan does not represent an alternative to the Kemalists. When Erdogan began his
rise to power with his election as Mayor of Constantinople in 1994, he vowed to march on the Patriarchate
and to force the Phanar to open the gate that has remained closed since the tragic martyrdom of
Gregory V in 1821. Erdogan has been Prime Minister since early 2003 and yet Halki remains closed.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate deserves the support of all Greeks and all Eastern Orthodox faithful, as well
as all civilized governments and institutions. The 60 Minutes segment on the background, achievements,
and predicament of the Great Church of Christ was encouraging, as were the principled comments of his
holiness the Patriarch. The Greek American community should rally behind the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We must keep in mind the historical memories of the past. The political atmosphere in Turkey is as
poisonous toward the Christians today as it was in 1922-23, and as it was during the period of September
1955 when the Turkish Kristaalnacht was perpetrated against the Greek inhabitants of Constantinople.
The Republic of Turkey must be thoroughly exposed before public opinion in the democracies of the

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