Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Patriarch Speaks, Cont.

The recent "60 Minutes" interview with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (take a look at the previous post), the Istanbul-based leader of the Orthodox Church, is creating quite a stir in Turkey. In the segment, which took a look at the difficulties faced by the Orthodox Church in Turkey, the Patriarch said that at times he and the Church have felt "crucified" by the Turkish state.

The comment drew a sharp rebuke from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said he hoped it was slip of the tongue since crucifixion was never part of Turkey's "tradition" (although, as Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc reminds readers, Patriarchs had previously been hanged.) At the same time, the Greek Foreign Ministry also got involved, with its spokesman telling Ankara it should pay heed to the Patriarch's words.

Meanwhile, in a column in today's Hurriyet Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand comes to the Patriarch's defense, saying:
I don’t agree with Foreign Minister Davuto─člu. The patriarch is right. The state, with its ignorance of a Turkish institution for 38 years, has not been able to keep its word and has crucified the patriarch.

No offense, but the culture and custom of crucifying exists in our state. It did not only apply it to the Patriarchate but also to its citizens and institutions, and it continues to do so.
(You can read the full column here.)

[UPDATE -- The patriarch has given an interview to Milliyet, where he elaborates on his "60 Minutes" remarks. You can read an English-language version here.]

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