September 7, 2016
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has condemned "false allegations" that its head was an accomplice in Turkey's failed coup on July 15.
A spokesperson criticised the rumours in an interview with Fides. Sources close to the Patriarchate told the news agency that the allegations may have been "planned to embarrass" the head of the Church.
Patriarch Bartholomew I has been explicitly accused of being involved in the attempted coup by Turkish media.
He had left Istanbul on one of the last flights out of the city, just hours before rebels captured Ataturk Airport, leading to suspicion that he had been forewarned of the coup.
Church officials insisted the timing was a "pure coincidence", and that the Patriarch only learned of the revolt once he had landed in Slovenia.
He was among a number of religious leaders to condemn the violence soon after it happened.
"We as the religious representatives of Jewish, Christian and Muslim citizens, together with our communities, are in a deep state of sorrow because of the terror incidents that have disrupted peace in our beautiful country and the world and have that have caused unbearable pain by taking the lives of many loved ones of our citizens," a joint statement read.
"Terror and violence wherever and whoever they come from can never be defended and regarded as legitimate. Killing one person is like killing the entire humanity and is absolutely not accepted by believers."
In the wake of the attempted coup, Turkey's President Erodogan fired hundreds of religious officials on suspected "terrorism" charged.
The move was part of a wider purge of those deemed to be opposed to the conservative Islamic leader. More than 50,000 people in total have been rounded up, sacked, or arrested in the wake of the coup.