Orthodox Church Dwindling Under Turkish Regulations

August 26, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On August 26, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Despite a 1,500-year history in Istanbul - and presiding over some 250 million believers worldwide, stretching from Russia and Romania to Greece and the United States - the Orthodox [Church] patriarchate [of Constantinople] tends a rapidly dwindling flock at home. To make matters worse, Turkish law stipulates that the patriarch must be a Turkish citizen, which means the next leader will have to be picked from among this shrinking pool of people. If something doesn't change soon, the church's spiritual and historical headquarters risks sliding into irrelevance. 'This minority cannot provide another patriarch from its remaining members ... at least [not] after one generation,' says Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, chief secretary to the current patriarch, Bartholomew. 'The patriarchate's survival depends on God and on its flock outside Turkey.' In many ways, survival is the main issue facing the church, as it tries to balance its worldwide mission with the domestic pressures it faces in Turkey, where its actions are often viewed with suspicion."