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Indiana House of Representatives unanimously pass resolution in support of Ecumenical Patriarchate

New York, NY
3/8/2018

Representatives from the Metropolis of Chicago and the Metropolis of Detroit gather at the Indiana House of Representatives. From L-R: Archon Chris Rongos; Lazaros Kircos, Regional Commander of Detroit; Fr. Dean Hountalas, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Detroit; Robert Morris, State Representative; Fr. William Bartz; Gus Pablecas, Regional Commander of Chicago; Fr. Lucas Christensen; and John Ackerman, Media Relations Director for the Metropolis of Chicago.

With the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, Regional Commanders Gus M. Pablecas, John G. Manos, and Lazaros Kircos, together with the invaluable assistance from Archon Chris Rongos, worked together with Indiana State representatives to pass religious freedom resolution HR 28, urging the government of Turkey to cease its discrimination against the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This successful joint effort between the Metropolis of Chicago and the Metropolis of Detroit to gain passage in Indiana of the Archon Resolution was announced in the fall of 2016. By Spring of 2017, the Indiana Senate responded with passage of SR2 following several media presentations at Greek Orthodox parishes in Northern Indiana. However, the Indiana House did not have enough time for passage in 2017. Now, thanks to the support of Indiana Representative Robert Morris and hard work of Archon Rongos, the Indiana House of Representatives has joined this cause. The Governor of Indiana had previously committed to supporting the resolution once both legislative branches finalized their support.

In 2006, the Order of Saint Andrew (Archons) initiated the Religious Freedom Resolution project. The goal of this project, which represents one component of the overall, multi-faceted Religious Freedom Initiative, is the adoption of Religious Freedom Resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in each individual state within the United States. The project has been overseen nationally by Archon Stephen Georgeson.

To date, 44 of the 50 states have passed resolutions as part of this national effort. Indiana has yet to join this group, in part because the state is divided between the jurisdictions of the Metropolis of Chicago and Metropolis of Detroit. Thanks to this joint effort by both Metropolises, Indiana is just a step away from becoming the 45th state to pass this important resolution.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual center of over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, making Orthodoxy the second largest tradition within Christianity. Based in Istanbul (formerly, Constantinople), Turkey, since the founding of the church by the Apostle Andrew, elder brother of Apostle Peter and first of the disciples of Christ, today the Ecumenical Patriarchate faces dangers that, if left unchecked, could bring an end to this historic religious institution. The five key issues the Resolution calls attention to are:

  1. Government Interference in Election of Ecumenical Patriarchate - The Turkish government insists on approving the selection of the Ecumenical Patriarch and insists that the Patriarch must be a Turkish citizen.
  2. Non-recognition of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the worldwide spiritual leader of the Orthodox and treating him as simply a local priest.
  3. Re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, closed by the Turkish government since 1971 and where many past Patriarchs have been trained.
  4. No Legal Identity for Ecumenical Patriarchate - inhibiting the Patriarchate from taking any formal actions in Turkey in its own name and forcing the Patriarchate to use surrogates for owning property and other administrative affairs, and
  5. Confiscation of Property - without a legal identity, the Turkish government claims property owned by the Patriarchate for centuries has been abandoned, and then confiscates the property.

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