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GreeceJOINT INTERVIEW - Martinos and Limberakis: Αny European prospects for Türkiye pass...

JOINT INTERVIEW – Martinos and Limberakis: Αny European prospects for Türkiye pass through the Ecumenical Patriarchate

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The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s challenges, the Ukrainian war and the Middle East’s volatility took center stage at the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom and Democracy in Athens from May 26 to May 29.

During a joint interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) National Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America Dr. Anthony Limberakis and the President of the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons in Europe Athanasios Martinos, discussed contemporary Orthodox Church challenges and Archons’ actions. Martinos and Limberakis in their interview with journalist Katia Tsimplaki, highlighted the decision made at the 4th Conference to honor Yulia Navalny with the Athenagoras Human Rights Prize and addressed the Ukraine conflict, Moscow’s Orthodox Church antagonism and Middle East turmoil. Martinos and Limberakis joint interview aimed to underscore Archons’ unity across the USA and Europe in supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate and human rights, as they emphasized to ANA-MPA. “ The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a group of passionate leaders, relentlessly focused on protecting religious freedom for everyone and ensuring the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – the historical spiritual center of the world’s 300+ million Orthodox Christians,” stressed Limberakis.

Conversion of Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Chora into mosques ranks high on Archons’ agenda. Dr. Limberakis detailed these actions to ANA-MPA. “ The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued statements condemning the conversion into mosques of both Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Chora. We hold conferences such as the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom and initiatives such as our 2022 Religious Freedom Mission to Romania, Bulgaria and Greece in order to alert key officials in the ecclesiastical and political spheres to these and other infringements on religious freedom and to discuss with them various courses of action that can be taken in their various arenas of operation.”

Regarding Turkiye’s role, Martinos stressed its recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s historic significance and influence predating the Ottoman Empire. The position of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Turkiye solidified during Patriarch Bartholomew’s thirty-two-year tenure, Martinos stated and highlighted the Patriarch’s respect from Turkiye’s leadership. “Turkiye understands the international significance and influence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which existed a thousand years before the Ottoman Empire.”

Martinos also emphasizes that “I dare to say that any European prospects for Turkiye pass through the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” “The position of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Turkiye has been established over the thirty-two years of Patriarch Bartholomew’s tenure,” Martinos said, adding that “the Ecumenical Patriarch, due to his leadership and charismatic personality, enjoys great respect and appreciation from the Turkish Government, especially from President Erdogan as well as from the spiritual and economic leadership of the neighboring country.”

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The conference coincided with Russia’s war on Ukraine, Moscow’s challenge to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and reactions to Navalny’s death. The Archons decided to award Navalny’s wife, Yulia, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award in October. “ The Athenagoras Human Rights Award is presented every year to a person or organization that has consistently exemplified action, purpose, dedication, and concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people. The list of recipients of the award is a list of notable defenders of human rights and religious liberty. Yulia Navalnaya is one of the most courageous individuals on the planet. Her painful personal experience of losing her husband because he stood up to a tyrant is a vivid illustration of the human cost of authoritarian rule and the denial of basic freedoms. Yet at tremendous cost and amid considerable personal risk, Ms. Navalnaya has persevered, becoming the conscience of the international community. With a prophetic voice, she has called upon it to show its commitment to freedom and take decisive action against what she has not hesitated to call the criminal regime in Moscow,” Limberakis said to ANA-MPA.

Challenges to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s primacy and Moscow’s establishment of an African exarchate concern the Archons. Limberakis noted collaboration between the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate. “ On this issue also, we are working in various ways to raise awareness regarding these issues and demonstrate the synergy between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian government. Once the public and international ecclesiastical and political leaders are fully apprised of the Kremlin’s motives and goals, appropriate action will follow to defend the canonical rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the deleterious influence of Moscow can be rolled back through a collaborative effort in many fields.”.

Martinos emphasized Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s significance for Orthodox Christians globally, even those distant from the Patriarchate. He praised Bartholomew’s actions for increasing the Patriarchate’s influence. “Today, Orthodox Christians of all ethnicities look to the Patriarch in Constantinople for comfort and hope. The recognition of new autonomous churches among Orthodox peoples after the collapse of the Soviet system has increased the influence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The events have justified the timely decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch to sign the tomos that officially recognized and established the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Even the faithful of Orthodox Churches that have distanced themselves from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Russians and others, secretly respect, appreciate, and acknowledge Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the religious leader of all Orthodox Christians,” says Martinos.

Dr. Limberakis highlighted the Archons’ support for Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, who was barred from traveling to Peć last May. “ The Archons adopted a resolution expressing concern about the fact that authorities in Pristina recently prevented His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia and seven accompanying bishops from entering Kosovo and Metohija. His Holiness had planned to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchate of Peć. The resolution expressed grave concern over the ban on the Patriarch, and called upon Kosovar authorities to allow the Patriarch to enter, attend the Holy Synod, and carry out all of his responsibilities as canonical head of the Serbian Orthodox Church”, he said.

The Middle East’s instability was also a key focus on Archons conference. Martinos warned of a looming conflict and cited ongoing wars and geopolitical tensions, including maritime disruptions by Yemeni Houthis. “Due to the critical and dangerous geopolitical developments in our region, where three wars are being waged among Orthodox European states, Russia and Ukraine, among neighboring peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, Jews and Palestinians, as well as related peoples originating from the Land of the Old Testament, We have the Yemeni Houthis disrupting international maritime transport in the Red Sea. Supposedly, they support the Palestinians,” stressed Martinos.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the conference, discussing Ukraine’s war, the Russian threat and Moscow Patriarchate-Kremlin ties. “ We are working in various ways to raise awareness regarding these issues and demonstrate the synergy between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian government. Once the public and international ecclesiastical and political leaders are fully apprised of the Kremlin’s motives and goals, appropriate action will follow to defend the canonical rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the deleterious influence of Moscow can be rolled back through a collaborate effort in many fields,” stressed Limberakis to ANA-MPA.

Martinos thanked the US and the Greek-American community for supporting the Patriarchate, lauding Greek-Americans’ achievements in the US. “As Archons representing the Patriarchate, we are grateful for the support of the U.S. government to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as for the support of the Greek-American community. We, Greeks, are proud of the progress and achievements of Greek-Americans in universities, sciences, and the economy of the United States, in an exceptionally competitive but meritocratic society.”

SOURCE; ANA-MPA

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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