Empty pews

A piece of mine has appeared in the Times regarding the recent ECHR ruling on the Prinkipo Orphanage. You can read it here, although the website is no longer free, so you’ll have to subscribe (I think there’s a free trial).
There is also a good piece in Hurriyet Daily News on the same subject, which you can read here.
The current AK Party government has done more than any of its predecessors to improve the legal status of the country’s religious minorities.
However the problems facing the Patriarchate of Constantinople are also demographic. With as few as 2,500 Greek Orthodox Christians remaining in Turkey, the church is sustained within a tiny pool.
It relies heavily on support from the wider Orthodox faith, and Turkey’s acceptance of its long-denied ecumenical status and allow it recruit clergy from abroad, it would be a major step towards ensuring its survival.
The attached picture is from a service at its main Cathedral of St George at the Patriarchate headquarters in Istanbul’s Fener district. Tourists (mainly Greek) overwhelm the dwindling native congregation. In 2009, more than half a million people visited the headquarters on organized tours alone. A visit drives home the realization that while the roots of this institution in Turkey may be withering, those supporting it from abroad are alive and well.
If Turkey can overcome its innate xenophobia (particularly towards anything Greek) and realize what an asset it is to have a Christian institution of worldwide significance within its borders, then it has nothing to lose, and everything to gain.


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