The Orthodox Church - January-February 1998

Greek Archdiocese protests latest attack in Constantinople

NEW YORK, NY — The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America expressed "grave concern" over the mid-January murder of a custodian at the Shrine of Saint Therapon near the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Vasilios Haviaropoulos, whose son is an Orthodox priest, was found murdered in the vandalized shrine.

Reports state that flames from the shrine alerted people that something was wrong. Forcing open the gate outside the shrine, they assisted the fire department in extinguish­ing the fire. His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was immediately notified, and His Eminence, Metropolitan Meliton, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, went immediately to investigate the matter. He discovered that numerous icons and other liturgical items were missing. Only later was the custodian's body discovered in a well from which he had distributed holy water every Monday. According to one report, the custodian had been bound and his skull was crushed before he was thrown into the well.

"The Ecumenical Patriarchate is shocked, grief-stricken and deeply concerned over this horrific crime," the Archdiocesan statement reads. "Coming a few short weeks since the bomb attack against the Patriarchate, this act of violence has left the remaining Greek Orthodox faithful in Istanbul emotionally shaken and traumatized."

"We are deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Mr. Haviaropoulos," said His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. "Americans of Orthodox background expect that their fellow Christians will be protected in accordance with established international standards of law and order. We must insure that the religious, legal and basic human rights of all peoples are respected and properly observed."

[ The Orthodox Church - January-February 1998 - p. 11 ]