Friday, July 06, 2007

Sandro Details the Plight of Constantinople

As reported earlier in this blog, the idea of religious freedom as understood by so many Western Countries is sharply different from that found in Muslim countries. The "Secularist" state of Turkey, as the great Western Hope for a liberal republic of Muslim origin, is a stark case in point. The Christian minority in Turkey has been dwindling since the founding of the state (and before).

Sandro Magister has a detailed report of the most recent "legal" setback for the Patriarch of Constantinople. A few excerpts follow:

The supreme court of Ankara handed down the sentence on June 26. It established that the patriarchate is simply a Turkish body set up for the Greek Orthodox minority, and therefore cannot claim the title of “ecumenical” for the entire Orthodox world.


In support of its sentence, the supreme court cited the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which classified the patriarchate of Constantinople as a religious minority, and nothing else.

Because in Turkey the maxim holds true that jurisprudence makes law, the June 26 sentence was received by the patriarchate with serious alarm, considering the precedents. For example, in 1974 the same supreme court denied the religious foundations of the Orthodox, Catholic, and other minorities in Turkey the right to possess buildings or land, as had been granted to them by a 1933 law. This law confirmed the real estate property these groups possessed at the time, and moreover granted them the right to acquire new property. With the 1974 sentence, the religious foundations were arbitrarily stripped of all the assets acquired after 1933.

In Turkey, the Orthodox community, just like the Catholic community, continues to have no juridical personality; the bishops and religious authorities are not recognized, the seminaries are closed – including the theological school of the patriarchate on the island of Chalki – and the patriarch of Constantinople is required to be a Turkish citizen.

This withholding of the most basic rights from religious minorities is in clear contrast with Turkey’s desire to be admitted into the European Union....

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