Constantinople, October 18, 2018
The so-called “Turkish Orthodox Church” has filed a lawsuit against the Patriarchate of Constantinople and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in particular against the background of the decision to interfere in Ukrainian Church life and continue the process of granting autocephaly, the Turkish church’s press secretary Sevgi Erenerol told RIA-Novosti on Tuesday.
The schismatic “Turkish Orthodox Church” was established in 1922 by government resolution, with the aim of creating a national Orthodox Church unconnected to Greek Orthodoxy. It is not recognized as canonical by other local Orthodox Churches. It is currently headed by “Patriarch” Eftim IV (Erenerol).
“We filed a lawsuit today, where we indicated that this matter is political, far from religious. Bartholomew has no authority to send his exarchs to Ukraine and give autocephaly to its Church. The status of the Patriarch of Constantinople, according to the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923, is limited to the administration of the Divine services for Greeks living in Turkey,” the press secretary explained.
Constantinople representatives have commented that it is unacceptable that the Ukrainian schism has continued for 30 years. There has been no statement as of yet about what steps they are taking to heal the schism with the “Turkish Orthodox Church,” which has existed for 96 years.
Erenerol also said Bartholomew’s actions are a “crime under both Turkish law and the Lausanne Treaty, which clearly spelled out his responsibilities and range of duties.”
Explaining further, Erenerol told TASS:
The political activity of the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and members of the Synod has gone beyond the bounds of religious duties and violates the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, by which [the Patriarch] was left in Turkey for meeting the religious needs of the Greek minority in Istanbul and on the islands (in the Sea of Marmara), and the existing Turkish laws. This activity is instigative and can cause enmity and conflict between countries in our region, in particular, between Russia and Ukraine.
… [He] is accused of committing crimes punishable under Turkey’s Criminal Code: instigation aimed at inciting hatred and hostility; negligence in performing religious duties; and instigation of a country to war.
“Bartholomew has exceeded his authority and interfered in relations between countries, in their internal affairs. And if he did this, then he can’t be allowed to stay in Turkey,” the press secretary added.
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