GOARCH - November 4, 1998

Archbishop Calls on Civic and Religious Leaders
to Assist the Theological School

NEW YORK - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, has called upon the leaders of our nation, both civic and religious, to speak out in support of the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki. The Archbishop has written to the President, the Secretary of State, the Members of Congress and numerous religious leaders calling their attention to the summary dismissal of the Board of Trustees by an agency of the Turkish government.

In a telephone call last night with Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman (former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey), the Archbishop emphasized the importance of the Halki School to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to the world. Under Secretary Grossman assured His Eminence of his personal concern and commitment to addressing this situation by all available means. He is expected to contact the American Embassy in Ankara today.

In his letter to President Clinton, the Archbishop pointed out that the Turkish government had:

". . . effected these egregious dismissals within days after you signed legislation passed by the Congress of the United States which confirmed the basic rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople both to operate freely and to reopen its venerable Theological School of Halki. This high-handed measure by the Turkish authorities stands, therefore, as an open act of defiance against the American people and their government, as well as an act of repression against the native Turkish citizenry of Orthodox faith."

In the last twelve months, Archbishop Spyridon has led the Archdiocese to inform the American public consciousness about concerns and issues of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. After the bombing of the Patriarchal compound in December of 1997, the murder of a Greek Orthodox Christian at a Church in Constantinople, the vandalism of churches in Constantinople and the island of Imvros, and the desecration of the cemetery in Kurtulus, the Archdiocese has consistently called upon civic and religious leaders to come to the aid and defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

His Eminence concluded his letter to President Clinton with a reminder of the visit of His All Holiness only last year:

"When His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited the United States last year, he brought a message of peace, love and reconciliation. This latest move by the Turkish government is yet another attempt to silence the universal message of Orthodox Christianity."

  November 4, 1998 ]