Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Two weeks after a Turkish court denied the Patriarchate of Constantinople the right to call himself ecumenical, Bartholomew I has come under attack once again by Bujidar Cipof, an ex-Church member of the Bulgarian exarchate of Constantinople which comes under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Cipof has now filed charges against Patriarch Bartholomew, whose ‘crime’ is to have used in his latest speeches—during the successful July 11-15 Second Orthodox Youth Conference—the much deprecated historical expression “Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
Many in local diplomatic and media circles believe that behind the tug-of-war started by various ex-members of the Bulgarian exarchate, stand the guardians of the Turkish state who are sending signals to the country’s various Christian minorities, whom they suspect of favouring the party of outgoing Prime Minister Erdogan.
These elements within the Turkish state see themselves as the true protectors of the Kemalist legacy, which has however lost much of the founder’s initial élan, turning instead into a secular form of fundamentalism that has not refrained from using Islam in moments of political tensions, as suggested by David Shankland in his book Islam and Society Turke, (1999).
As much as it may seem strange in Western Europe, Christian minorities have never experienced the degree of tolerance that they have in the last 20 years under the governments of Ozal and Erdogan, both conservative and reformers, this according to a Turkish-born Orthodox prelate living in Berlin. Yet he did acknowledge Turkish education lacks elements from Greco-Roman culture that are useful in preparing a truly European ruling class.
Finally, Baskin Oran, a well-respected scholar and independent candidate in the upcoming elections, in an interview with the newspaper Radikal demolished piece by piece the recent court decision against the patriarch. And it is not without a certain ironic tone that he pointed that he would have never believed that courts in Turkey had become so well-versed in Orthodox ecclesiology, because after all the whole issue essentially revolves around Orthodox religious canons. (NT)