Showing posts with label Patriarch Bartholomew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patriarch Bartholomew. Show all posts

Friday, December 18, 2009

Watch 60 Minutes 12/20!

Watch 60 Minutes Sunday for an interview in Turkey with Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew. Video Preview here.
CBS travels to Cappadocia, in far Eastern Turkey, to highlight the Christian church's expansion from Jerusalem to Constantinople 17 centuries ago. When I traveled to Jerusalem and Istanbul last January, my experience was a mixture of sadness and joy, with Islam vs Christianity and Judaism. The Patriarch says the church feels "crucified" living in Turkey; it's hard to imagine a revitalized church in my grandparents' country. (For more on their Turkish village, and my visit with the Patriarch last January, click here.)
CBS writes: "One and a half million Orthodox were expelled in 1923 and another 150,000 left after violent anti- Christian riots in Istanbul in 1955. A population once numbering near two million is now around 4,000." Bartholomew is considered global leader to the 300 million-member Orthodox Christian Church. For more on Turkey and religion, check out a World Focus piece on Islamic extremism in Turkey.
Also see and hear the story, with Web extras!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Istanbul Vandals v. Xtians

Vandals in recent days shattered and knocked over headstones in a Greek cemetery in Istanbul, according to an Ecumenical Patriarchate email. Many of those buried had died in the past decade after spending their last days at the nearby Balouki nursing home. The well-heeled, largely American patrons of the Patriarchate, the "archons," are now building a tall fence around the cemetery and restoring the headstones, which look surprisingly flimsy in photos compared to the granite or limestone versions you see in American cemeteries. While this is no doubt due in part to local tradition, and the destitute status of isolated Greek Christians who died in Istanbul, one has to ask why the patriarchate and its patrons have not done more to secure this cemetery and another that was the scene of even more disgusting vandalism, knowing that the Turkish authorities cannot provide constant police protection of graves. Insiders always tell me the patriarchate has more money than we think. Politics aside, the situation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is pathetic and I increasingly feel that anything one can do is too little, too late.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Patriarchal Blessing

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- With the Epiphany feast upon us, after a blessing of waters liturgy at the church of St. George at the Patriarchate here in Istanbul, I was granted an “akroasi” (meeting for a blessing) with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew Monday morning. I was last to be seen; before me were mostly Greeks from Greece and men who seemed to get preferential treatment. When I finally saw the patriarch, he commented that that as a journalist, I have an important job because I can influence people. However, before seeing him, I was warned not to conduct an interview, which needs more than two weeks approval. Seeing the patriarch at all took quite a bit of waiting and confusion, and a stall-tactic soup consisting of white beans with lemon and spicy dry red pepper on the side. After all that, I learned several things: the Patriarch is indeed a kind man. He administers with Post-its. He has blue eyes. His ibriks for demitasse coffee are very old copper with intricate bronze handles. This may not make me a better Orthodox Christian, but it is what it is, and the patriarchate deserves support given longstanding, and current, oppression by the Turkish government. (On the main shopping street, the Catholics have a church where they can conduct services in Turkish and English. There's a Greek Orthodox Church at the top of the same street, at Taksim Square, but the authorities have only allowed two Greek Orthodox churches to remain open, and they aren't conveniently located.) Anyway, the Patriarch offered me chocolates, and gave me a gold-tone cross stamped on the back with the patriarchate name, a small book in Greek with a CD explaining the church of St. George in the Fener or “Phanar” district and the Church of Chora, which I visited last week. Thought the gifts were very generous; and he took down our Asia Minor [Turkey] family name and village name when I asked if they have a map of the Nicea region. I asked if he had any questions for me; his response was that I am young. I asked him how we know Gods will, but I don’t remember the answer – except that we have to listen and things take time. Other tidbits: he also offered to me that his baptized name was Demetrios – and he told me twice that I had to come back Wednesday, when he throws a cross into the nearby inlet that leads to the Bosphorus. And then, it was all over. A newly ordained deacon who hails from northern Indiana took two photographs, and the Patriarch put on a long black street coat and headed, with a driver, to the hospital to visit his sister. It was pouring rain all day Monday, so the light wasn't good for photos. You can see here the facade of the St. George church at the Patriarchate, with the administrative offices to the right. The brown wood is typical of old Istanbul structures including both hotels where I stayed. Surrounded by the sea, anything else deteriorates. Which begs the question, why would the builders of St. Stephen of the Bulgars use iron?