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Illinois Senate passes resolution in support of religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Illinois Senate has recently adopted SR 70, a religious freedom resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With the adoption of this resolution, 52 such resolutions have now been adopted by 42 states.

The resolution calls on the Turkish government to respect the religious freedoms and rights of the minority Greek Orthodox Church in the predominantly Muslim nation following decades of legal disputes, confiscation of properties, and the closing of the only seminary serving Orthodox Christians in Turkey in 1971.

Illinois Senate Resolution 70 was passed Friday, May 31, calling for a resolution of disputes, the opening of the seminary, and recognition and respect of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s rights and freedoms and protection under the law. A similar measure passed in the State House of Representatives in 2007, through the key leadership of State Rep. Sandra Pihos, but action had been delayed in the Senate.

With the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, and under the guidance of the Metropolis Chancellor, His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, a committee named “Friends of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from Peoria” has been working hard the last four months to have the Senate measure passed through press conferences, informational meetings and encouraging parishioners to contact their elected officials.

The legislative effort was led by chief sponsor Senator Bill Brady and chief co-sponsors Senators Darin LaHood, Antonio Munoz, Michael Frerichs and Steven Landek.  The committee’s efforts gained the support of 42 of 59 State Senators. The Committee also gained adoption of a resolution in support of the effort from the City of Chicago.

Bishop Demetrios will be traveling with Committee members Frank and Katena Lagouros as well as others from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis to Istanbul to visit the Patriarchate next week. There he will present His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew these resolutions from the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Commenting on the success of the measure, Bishop Demetrios thanked the many persons involved, saying, “The hard work here in Illinois of the faithful and friends of the Church to gain passage of these resolutions will be noticed, and will continue to have an impact on improving the conditions and status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos is deeply grateful, as I am sure will be His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch.”

Additional members of the committee are John and Maria Ackerman, George Manias, and Emanuel Manias. The committee effort, assisted by clergy and laity throughout the state, was a response to a national initiative of the Order of Saint Andrew, a lay fraternal organization of Orthodox Christians supporting the interests of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the USA.

The Order, whose members are named “Archons” (Greek for “leaders”), is active both nationally and internationally in raising support for the rights and protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including holding international conferences on religious freedom. The group continues its efforts to have the seven remaining states adopt similar resolutions.

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