AN APPEAL TO POPE BENEDICT XVI AND TO ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I
Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor, John Paul II, has stated his interest in establishing closer relations between the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Churches of the East. Accordingly he has made known his desire to lend his support to the Church of Constantinople in furtherance of its mission and the rapprochement of East and West. As a first step, the new pope has accepted an invitation to visit the Ecumenical Patriarch at his residence in Constantinople beginning on November 30, 2005, feast day of the Apostle Andrew, founder and first bishop of the diocese and later Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The proposed visit comes at a time when conflicting interests of East and West are converging on the Bosporus begging the attention of noble men of good will in quest of accommodation and resolution. We note at the outset that the predicament of the Ecumenical Patriarch is not good. Since the seizure of Constantinople by the Muslim Turks in the 15th century and following the secularization of the Turkish state by Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk  more than 80 years ago, the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Christendom, second in rank among the five Apostolic patriarchates and first among equals of the Orthodox patriarchs, has diminished. As the titular head of Eastern Orthodoxy and the real chief prelate of an ecclesial body much smaller than that, the Patriarch of Constantinople is little more than a barely tolerated and largely unwanted hierarch representing a small ethnic and religious minority awash in a sea of Muslims in a Turkish state which claims to be secular but remains thoroughly Islamic in its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. (see footnote 5 in http://www.byzantines.net/byzcathculture/christflight.html about dhimmis) Today as in the Ottoman past, the Church is restrained by a plethora of restrictions which involve the meddling of the state in virtually every decision of importance. As an illustration, we note that the Panayia Church, damaged a few years ago in a terrorist attack on the nearby British consulate, is still waiting for official approval to carry out repairs. In addition the effort of the Patriarch to re-open the Greek Orthodox seminary on an island in the Sea of Marmara, closed when the Turkish state seized private universities in 1971, has been effectively rebuffed. Why should any Church or ecclesial body in this day and age have to seek state approval for repairing churches and operating seminaries? In spite of all the propaganda about Turkey's secular status as a non-religious state, it remains in reality as it was in its Ottoman past, obstinately and arrogantly Islamic in its contemptuous treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. 
Another reality converging on the Bosporus is Turkey's desire to join the European Union.  On October 3, 2005 accession talks between Turkey and the European Union are scheduled to begin - these at a time when Europeans by and large are growing disenchanted with the idea of Turkey's membership in the EU, and when Muslim minorities in European countries are increasingly seen as alien, hostile and unassimilatable elements conspiring to overthrow the existing order and to replace the same with an islamofascist social and political order - a perception strengthened by the Madrid and London bombings and by the disclosure of several militant and conspiratorial Islamic cells throughout Europe. The fear of islamofascism emerging from the Middle East to penetrate and corrupt European civilization accounted substantially for the recent rejection of the proposed EU-constitution by France and the Netherlands and the refusal of the United Kingdom to vote on it. Moreover, were Turkey to be admitted to the EU, the EU would move politically eastward into the seething cauldron of the Middle East adjoining Syria, a majority Sunni country ruled by a heterodox Alowite Muslim, his tribe and his despised sect, and the emerging Shia islamofascist league of Iraq and Iran, the latter of which may soon possess nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them. .
In August 2004 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, made clear that he regards Turkey as part of the Islamic world, not merely geographically in another continent but intellectually and spiritually a world apart from Europe. He would prefer that Turkey ally itself with nations which share its traditions and past. This would not deny it an opportunity to associate with the European Union in a limited ancillary capacity
RETURN OF HAGIA SOPHIA TO THE POSSESSION AND CONTROL OF THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH AS MOTHER CHURCH OF CHRISTENDOM - A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF TURKEY'S APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
We do not know, of course, what the agenda of the Pope and the Patriarch might be, but suspect that Turkey's effort to join the EU will come up in the conversations, as we are sure that the Patriarch and his Turkish adversaries are well aware of the Pope's views on that subject. Among the issues which we advance as appropriate for their consideration are the following:
Since the publication of this page, the Turkish government has intervened to prevent Pope Benedict XVI from visiting his brother-in-Christ and fellow patriarch, Bartholomew I, at the latter's residence in Constantinople. What the parties had considered an opportunity for inter-patriarchal personal communication, the Turkish state regards as a matter of high policy connected with its application to join the European Union, an issue which it seeks to resolve in the traditional Turkish manner. The Turkish state today as in its Ottoman past regards the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople as a local ethnarch for Turkey's tiny Greek minority and views with extreme disfavor contacts between its captive and the Church of Rome. Moreover, our view of the Patriarch of Constantinople as second only to the Patriarch of Rome in the order of precedence among the five Apostolic Patriarchs and as first among equals among the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs is dismissed by the Turks as vestiges of an irrelevant past.
On September 15, 2005 Turkish President Ahmet Sezer invited the Pope to visit Turkey on a state visit sometime in 2006, ostensibly to help "strengthen dialogue between civilizations", but in reality to keep the Pope on a short leash as far as his preferences to confer with his fellow prelate are concerned. Before his election to the papacy, Pope Benedict, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, had this to say about the proposed entry of Europe by the Turks:
“The roots that have formed Europe, that have
The Turks replied by suggesting that the issue of Turkey's entry into the European Union is no business of the Pope.
We hasten to note that the popes are never indifferent to the machinations of the Ottoman Muslims to intrude upon and overwhelm Europe. Just 434 years ago on October 7, 1571 the naval forces of Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pius V, thrashed the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto  and thereby turned back Sultan Suleiman The Magnificent's effort to conquer Europe. Today the Pope's fleets are of another kind. Nevertheless the ultimate impact of Neo-Ottoman intrusion in Europe through the European Union would remain the same - the islamification and the destruction of European civilization.
In the page above we discuss the proposed visit of Pope Benedict XVI to his brother patriarch, Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and New Rome, at the end of November 2005 to celebrate with him the Divine Liturgy on the feast day of the Apostle, St. Andrew the First-Called, who is the Apostolic father and first bishop of Byzantium, later Constantinople. The Turkish state  viewed the proposed visit with much disfavor and refused to issue an entry visa to Benedict, preferring instead to invite him on a “state visit” in 2006 wherein its control over him would be more easily enforced. Long before this visit came about the Islamist-led Turkish state made it clear what its political interests in the visit would be. Benedict’s purposes to explore paths of reconciliation between the Churches of East and West in a meeting between patriarchs are of great interest to Muslims, for Islam recognizes no distinction between religion and politics. Accordingly the proposed visit was regarded by the Turkish state first and foremost as an opportunity to exploit the Pope for its own political purposes and this it did very well.
The Turks do not view the Patriarch of Constantinople as anyone but a local ethnarch in charge of the resident millet of a few thousand Greeks in Turkey. His larger role as second in the order of preference and dignity of the five Apostolic patriarchates  established at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD and first among equals of all Orthodox hierarchs are ridiculed as obsolete. Moreover the Turks view contacts and close relations between the Churches of East and West in efforts to reconcile differences as inimical to the interests of the state and likely to diminish their ability to control the Patriarch.
Pope Benedict’s political stagecraft was, in our opinion, a disaster. He capitulated unconditionally to the Turks’ demands and received nothing in return. Against all common sense, but probably at the behest of certain Islamophiles in the Vatican bureaucracy and of the ever-fearful Middle Eastern hierarchs, he abased himself in repeated apologies for having referred to Islam as a “violent religion” – a matter of objective truth fully manifest in the Quran, Hadiths, Sharia and 14 centuries of Islamic history; he repudiated his earlier position that Islam belongs to the Islamic world of Asia, not Europe, and followed that by his endorsement of Turkey’s application to join the European Union which would be the open door to the inundation of Europe by hordes of Asian Muslims.
What did Benedict obtain for his humiliating concessions? The transfer of HAGIA SOPHIA to the possession and control of the Patriarch for use as his patriarchal temple? NO! Reciprocity in the treatment of Christian minorities in Turkey and other Muslim countries such as Muslim minorities receive in civilized countries? NO! Freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarch to pursue his mission to promote, maintain and extend the unity and faith of the Orthodox Churches worldwide free of meddling by the Turkish state? NO! Return to the Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox seminary located on an island in the Sea of Marmara closed by the Turkish state in 1971 because it was a private university? NO! Withdrawal of the Turkish occupation from a portion of Cyprus and its return to the Greeks? NO! Admission of and apology for the massacres of Armenian Christians from the 1890ies to 1915 and of the Greek Christians in the early years of the Kemal-regime? NO! Absolutely nothing! Benedict returned to Rome with a bagful of pious platitudes about harmony among Christians and Muslims, equality, brotherhood, mutual respect, etc. etc. – all of which have not the least chance of realization.
It appears to us that Benedict and his advisers failed to understand that in the Muslims’ cosmology there is no equality, reciprocity, fraternal affection or mutuality between Muslims and Christians. The QURAN defines Muslims as “the best of nations raised up to lead all others” (Surah 3: 110) and infidels as “the vilest of animals” (Surah 8: 55). The relationship between Muslims and those who reject Islam is governed by hatred. (Surah 40: 10) In addition, the Quran prescribes the proper relationship between Muslims and Christians as the total subordination of the latter to the former in a social and political arrangement known as “dhimma” in which the condition of Christians shall be humiliation (jizya) enforced by the obligation to pay the annual jizya tax to the Muslim umma (community) in acknowledgement of that humiliation. (Surah 9: 29)  None of the issues which Christians might have raised to establish a relationship based on peace, equality, and mutual respect between Christians and Muslims were addressed. Thus we shall remain what we have been for 14 centuries – despised infidels.
As stated above, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s invitation to Pope Benedict following the latter’s installation as Pope in 2005 to visit him at his residence in Constantinople on the occasion of the feast day of St. Andrew at the end of November was intended by both first and foremost as an opportunity to continue the inter-ecclesial dialogue and commitment to explore avenues for restoring the peace and communion between the Churches as had existed in the First Millennium. Unfortunately the Turkish government interfered. The proposed visit was re-scheduled for the end of November 2006. The entire visit was colored by the political agenda of the Turkish government which gave it the outward appearances of a state visit. Whenever the Patriarchs of Rome and New Rome met, their dialogue was carefully crafted to express little more than platitudes about the desired unity of the Churches and the commitment of each to that objective.
On November 30, the feast day of the Apostle St. Andrew the First Called, the two patriarchs issued a joint Declaration wherein they renewed their “commitment to move towards full communion”. The Declaration reminded us of the acts of their predecessors “effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas” which gave rise to the schism of 1054 and referred to the re-constitution of the Mixed Commission for theological dialogue where the real issues confronting the Churches might be discussed. The Declaration continued with the affirmation that: “In any step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religions. In Europe … we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots, traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of human relations at every level. In this context how could we not evoke the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the Acts of the Apostles tell us concerning the figure of St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles? In this land, the Gospel message and the ancient cultural tradition met.” Thus both patriarchs remind us of the areas of their interest – the Pope in Europe and the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Middle East.
The preservation of Christian roots in Europe is dear to Benedict who views the secularization of Europe and the Islamic invasion as threats to its existence. To us this seems to contradict his endorsement of Turkey’s application to join the European Union, for, in the unlikely event that it should happen, and given the freedom which the populations of the member states have to live and work anywhere in the Union, Europe would suffer an invasion of Muslims of catastrophic proportions which, in our opinion, would constitute within a few decades the demographic invasion and islamification of Europe which the Ottoman Turks attempted militarily but failed to achieve in recent centuries.
The Ecumenical Patriarch’s interest in the Christians of the Middle East is understandable but for them the future is dim as they in ever increasing numbers seek relief from islamofascist tyranny and oppression by emigrating abroad. See CHRISTIAN FLIGHT FROM THE MIDDLE EAST at: http://www.byzantines.net/byzcathculture/christflight.html
An issue dear to Bartholomew was mentioned in the Declaration, namely his “concern at the negative consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can result from economic and technological progress that does not know its limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God’s creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live.” Herein is expressed Bartholomew’s restatement of the Eastern Church’s broadly cosmologically view of creation which contrasts, at least until recently, with the Western Church’s narrowly anthropological view of creation. See COSMOLOGY OF THE EASTERN CHURCH at: http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/cosmology.htm
In summary we observe that the first meeting of the two patriarchs may be characterized as exploratory. What was said privately we do not know. What was expressed publicly in carefully crafted statements we have heard before, namely re-commitment to the goal of unification. Unfortunately the grim pall of Turkish interference hung over their meeting like a poisonous fog and smothered whatever blessed spontaneity of word or act that might have emerged. The real discussions in the future are likely to take place in the Mixed Commission which convenes elsewhere. Let us hope that Bartholomew’s visit in 2007 to his brother patriarch in the free air of Rome far from the meddlesome Turks will yield happier results inspired by the Holy Spirit.
As stated above, we are profoundly disappointed with the Holy Father’s humiliation by the Muslim Turks. Regarding the religious aspects of the visit, it may be said they have achieved what little was possible under the circumstances. We listed above several issues which Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch might have discussed to advance reunion, the latter’s mission to Orthodoxy and an improved relationship between Christians and Muslim Turkey. None of these matters were addressed and remain unresolved. Given the hostility of the Muslim Turkish state to religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey and its unrelenting efforts to turkify all that is deemed unturkish by harassing and suppressing the same, we see little chance for much progress. In effect there is little difference between what Muslims want and how Turkish nationalists treat non-Muslims and non-Turks – the results are the same. Demanding the return of Hagia Sophia to its rightful owner, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation from Cyprus or any of the other matters raised above are regarded by Muslim Turks as an affront to Islam and Turkishness to be rejected out of hand, as, indeed, they are.
What then, under the circumstances, might Pope Benedict do to assist his brother patriarch in his mission. We note that the Western Church is far larger and richer that the Eastern Church. Perhaps the money may be found to fund, equip and maintain a patriarchal pan-Orthodox seminary and university located outside of Turkey and free of Turkish meddling for the training of priests and others from all over the Orthodox world to draw Orthodox from diverse Churches closer to their Byzantine theological, liturgical and ecclesial heritage and to the Mother Church of Orthodoxy in an effort to overcome the parochialness of many national and autocephalous Churches. Money might be found to fund scholarships to encourage the exchange of seminarians and other students among the several Orthodox Churches to promote pan-Orthodoxy and broaden the international outlook of those who may serve in the parishes and chancery offices in the future. We would expect, of course, Turkish suspicion of a subterfuge to undermine Turkish control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Nevertheless, the Pope might consider more aggressively other means to assist his brother patriarch in many ways to slip the surly bonds of the latter’s Turkish masters.
Resistance by the Turks to ecumenical dialogue between the Churches is not the only obstacle to inter-ecclesial unity. Many Orthodox Churches view these efforts with grave misgivings. Since the schism of 1054 the Church of Constantinople has devolved into a plethora of national and autocephalous Churches, each claiming full independence while acknowledging the Ecumenical Patriarch as “first among equals”, but in reality paying him scant heed. The largest Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Moscow, which is not an Apostolic Church at all and itself a creature of Constantinople, frequently claims equality in status with Constantinople and has never abjured its “Third Rome” pretensions. It asserts as condition prerequisite to any dialogue with Rome that the latter abandon its hierarchical administration of Roman Catholic parishes in Russia and, of course, the Eastern Catholic Churches (the hated Uniats) and concede exclusive ecclesiastical jurisdiction to Moscow over all the territory occupied by the former Russian Empire. We doubt that inter-ecclesial dialogue between Rome and Constantinople can proceed far without involving the other Orthodox Churches and that no unity will ever be consummated without the unanimous consent of all Orthodox Churches.
During the Pope’s visit we noted that both Pope and Patriarch, in their respective liturgies, adhered to the ancient practice of excluding the other from the diptychs.  What this failure means to say is this: “We do not pray for any hierarchs with whom we are not in peace and communion.” While that is clear in its intent, it is also obsolete, unchristian in its purpose and the antithesis of what the Churches seek. For example, in the Byzantine liturgy we pray for peace, salvation, the well-being of the Churches, the government, the armed forces, travelers, for good weather, etc. and for every other Tom, Dick and Harry who enters through the door etc., but have never a kind word for the patriarchs and other hierarchs of our Sister Orthodox Churches. “Therefore pray for each other that you may be healed.” said St. James in his Epistle at: 5: 16. Then why don’t we pray for the hierarchs of our Sister Churches? In response to that paradox we suggest here below an amendment to the diptychs for use in the Great Entrance and in the Commemorations following the hirmos after the epiclesis:
First, Lord, remember His Holiness N, Pope
of Rome, our Holy Patriarch N, our Most Rev.
Father and Archbishop N and our Bishop N, His
All-Holiness N, Patriarch of New Rome, and all
the venerable Catholic and Orthodox Bishops.
Preserve them as a blessing over Your holy Churches
in peace, safety, honor, health, long life, rightly
dispensing the word of Your truth.
Returning the Orthodox hierarchs to the diptychs requires neither consent from the Turks, nor reciprocity, for charity is non-reciprocal. It would be an enduring act of good will and Christian charity which is Christ’s first mandate, namely that we love one another.
1) See HAGIA SOPHIA at: http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/hagiasophia.htm
2) Mustafa Kemal was no democrat. He was an ardent Turkish nationalist who sought to free Turkey from the reaction of the Ottoman Empire by abolishing the office of khalif and releasing Islam's grip on society following the defeat by the Central Powers, including the Ottoman Empire, in World War I. He established a secular Turkish state on the remnants of the Empire after its dismemberment by the victorious Allies. Secular nationalism in the worst European form of the time became the state ideology just as Italian and German fascism were coming into view. The new state embarked upon the turkification of religious and ethnic minorities such as Greeks, Armenians and Kurds. Modern Turkey is Mustafa Kemal's legacy, an oriental enigma of modern democratic appearances and old fascist realities governed by a ruling elite and the military adept at manipulating elections and subverting the opposition. Were Turkey ever to have an honest election on the European parliamentary model, it would likely emerge as an Islamic republic.
3) Many if not most Turks regard minorities as divisive. Distrust and hatred of minorities as unturkish are drilled into Turks from childhood; minorities are deemed a threat to the security of the state. The effective exclusion of minorities from the body politic is the current "secular" expression of the legally and religiously sanctioned practice of Islam to relegate the despised infidels to the margins of society.
4) The present members of the European Union are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus (Greek portion), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The applicants for membership are Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey. The first three were once conquered and occupied by the Ottoman Empire.
5) The first Islamic invasion of Europe began in the 15th century and continued with the Ottoman occupation of southeastern Europe until 1911 when the Austro-Hungarian Empire drove the last Turkish occupiers out of Europe. The once occupied and oppressed peoples of southeast Europe still fear and despise the Turks. The second Islamic invasion of Europe began in the 1960ies with the "guest worker" program in Germany designed to supply cheap Turkish labor for the rapidly expanding economy. Unfortunately the "guests" never went home. The third Islamic invasion of Europe followed eventually by the demise of European civilization through its islamification will begin in earnest, it is feared, if Turkey is admitted to EU membership.
6) Surah 9: 29 of the Quran mandates that Jews and Christians in Muslim states may be allowed to retain their lives and property only upon submission to the umma (Muslim community) without resistance and the acknowledgment of their inferior and subordinate status through the payment of the annual humiliation tax called jizya plus acquiescence to whatever other forms of humiliation and denigration the umma's rulers elect to impose on them. Such Jews and Christians are called dhimmi after the word, dhimma, which connotes the arrangement for imposing and maintaining the inferior status of dhimmi in Muslim societies. Because this social order in Muslim societies is mandated by the Quran, it rises to the natural order of the universe. Any challenge to this cosmic reality is deemed blasphemy, a hadd (capital) crime, the punishment for which is death.
7) See Battle of Lepanto in ISLAM AND THE CHURCH at: http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/islam.htm
8) The Battle of Vienna, September 12, 1683, was the beginning of the end for Muslim Turkish efforts to subdue and islamify Europe. For the Turks Vienna was strategic because of its control over the Danube River and the east-west routes leading into central Europe. The Turks laid siege to the city and sought to undermine its walls in an effort to force its capitulation. Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, came to the city's relief and after twelve hours his army and those of the Hapsburgs and Duke Charles IV of Lorraine routed the Turks. Thereafter began a continuing effort to drive out the heathen Turks from Southeastern Europe which ended with their final expulsion in the early 20th century. Having failed through military means to subdue Europe, the Turks seek now to achieve the same goal by joining the European Union and flooding it with their numerous and impoverished excess population of Muslims.
In 1988 the Turks honored Sultan Mehmet II, conqueror of Second Rome, desecrator of Hagia Sophia and devastator of southeastern Europe, by building a bridge in his honor over the Bosporus thereby linking Asia and Europe in the city of Constantinople. Europeans take note!
9) The Prime Minister of Turkey is RECEP ENDOGAN. His Islamist party, AKP, has controlled an absolute majority in the Turkish parliament since 2003. Endogan and his party are committed to the revocation of the secular constitution of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and its replacement by the Islamic law code, the Sharia. Turkey’s gradual return to the reactionary Islamic East bodes ill for any amelioration of the conditions of its religious and ethnic minorities.
11) Over the centuries the institutionalized practice of humiliating “people
of the book” viz. Jews and Christians became increasingly onerous and intruded on all aspects of life. The purpose was to impress on all the wholly inferior and despised status of those who rejected Islam in order to compel their conversion to Islam, to plunder their wealth, and to force them into exile.
The Christian virtue of humility is not valued by Muslims. Their concept of self-esteem and worth is governed by exaggerated notions of honor and shame derived from the Bedouin society of the 7th century Hijaz. The honor-shame society of Islam propels Muslims to extremes in quest of honor and glory and, conversely, to exert great efforts to avoid dishonor. These notions are further aggravated in the Muslim vs. infidel context. Because Muslims regard themselves as “the best of nations” and infidels as “the vilest of animals”, any words or acts by infidels deemed offensive to Muslims, their god, Muhammad, the Quran and Islam are treated presumptively as “hadd” crimes (beyond the limits) punishable by death. Thus the great emphasis on humiliating the Pope by insisting that he apologize for uttering that which is the unvarnished truth and to reverse his stance on admitting Turkey to the European Union. Tragically Benedict fell into the trap. By humiliating the chief prelate of Christendom, the Muslims confirm what they already believe, namely that infidels, even the exalted ones, are indeed the vilest of animals.
12) In its liturgical usage, the term “diptychs” refers to commemorative prayers in which are included the names of the high hierarchs in peace and communion with the Church. When Pope and Patriarch excommunicated each other in 1054 AD, they also struck each other from the diptychs of their respective liturgies. Although Pope and Patriarch have revoked the ancient excommunications, they still exclude each other from their liturgies.