Turkey bars Orthodox prelate from visiting
Ankara, Aug. 14, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Turkish government has barred a proposed visit by the Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, for the second time in 4 months, the AsiaNews service reports.
Archbishop Chrysostomos had planned the August visit in order to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the leading prelate in the Orthodox world. Earlier plans for a meeting in May had also been thwarted by Turkey's refusal to admit Cypriot prelate.
Orthodox officials stressed that the visit by Archbishop Chrysostomos would have been entirely religious, rather than political. But the Ankara government has been displeased with the archbishop's strong criticism of Turkish involvement in Cyprus.
Moreover a Turkish court recently announced that Patriarch Bartholomew has authority only over the small Orthodox community in Istanbul; the government refuses to recognize his status as the "first among equals" in the world's Orthodox hierarchy. The Ankara does not recognize any reason for an Orthodox leader from Cyprus to visit the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The government's refusal to allow a visit by Archbishop Chyrsostomos will strengthen the arguments that have been raised against Turkey's admittance into the European Union. Critics of the regime have repeatedly insisted that Ankara should not be allowed entry into the EU until the government shows a willingness to respond the religious freedoms of the Christian minority.
Responding to the Turkish government's decision to bar his entry, Archbishop Chrysostomos remarked that "Ankara has shown its real face."
Zenit has this version of the story.