October 25, 2020
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CS/HM 191

House Memorial
2A memorial to the Congress of the United States, urging
3Congress to encourage the Government of Turkey to grant
4the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international
5recognition, ecclesiastical succession, and the right to
6train clergy of all nationalities and to respect the
7property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical
10     WHEREAS, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, located in Istanbul,
11Turkey, is the Sacred See that presides in a spirit of
12brotherhood over a communion of self-governing churches of the
13Orthodox Christian world, and
14     WHEREAS, the See is led by Ecumenical Patriarch
15Bartholomew, who is the 269th in direct succession to the
16Apostle Andrew and holds titular primacy as primus inter pares,
17meaning "first among equals," in the community of Orthodox
18churches worldwide, and
19     WHEREAS, in 1994, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along
20with leaders of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, cosponsored
21the Conference on Peace and Tolerance, which brought together
22Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders for an
23interfaith dialogue to help end the Balkan conflict and the
24ethnic conflict in the Caucasus region, and
25     WHEREAS, in 1997, the Congress of the United States awarded
26Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the Congressional Gold Medal,
28     WHEREAS, following the terrorist attacks on our nation on
29September 11, 2001, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gathered a
30group of international religious leaders to produce the first
31joint statement with Muslim leaders that condemned those attacks
32as "antireligious," and
33     WHEREAS, in November 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarch, along
34with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, cosponsored the
35Conference on Peace and Tolerance II to further promote peace
36and stability in southeastern Europe, the Caucasus region, and
37Central Asia via religious leaders' interfaith dialogue,
38understanding, and action, and
39     WHEREAS, the Orthodox Christian Church, in existence for
40nearly 2,000 years, numbers approximately 300 million members
41worldwide, with more than 2 million members in the United
42States, and
43     WHEREAS, since 1453, the continuing presence of the
44Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey has been a living testament to
45the religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims, and
46     WHEREAS, this religious coexistence is in jeopardy because
47the Ecumenical Patriarchate is considered a minority religion by
48the Turkish government, and
49     WHEREAS, the Government of Turkey has limited the
50candidates available to hold the office of Ecumenical Patriarch
51to only Turkish nationals; and, out of the millions of Orthodox
52Christians who were living in Turkey at the turn of the 20th
53century, there remain as a result of the policies of the Turkish
54government during this period fewer than 3,000 of the Ecumenical
55Patriarch's flock left in that country today, and
56     WHEREAS, the Government of Turkey closed the Theological
57School on the island of Halki in 1971 and has refused to allow
58it to reopen, thus impeding training for Orthodox Christian
59clergy, and
60     WHEREAS, the Turkish government has confiscated nearly 94
61percent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's properties and has
62placed a 42 percent tax, retroactive to 1999, on the Baloukli
63Hospital and Home for the Aged, a charity hospital run by the
64Ecumenical Patriarchate, and
65     WHEREAS, the European Union, a group of nations with a
66common goal of promoting peace and the well-being of its
67peoples, began accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3,
682005, and
69     WHEREAS, the European Union defined membership criteria for
70accession at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, obligating
71candidate countries to achieve certain levels of reform,
72including stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy,
73adherence to the rule of law, and respect for and protection of
74minorities and human rights, and
75     WHEREAS, the Turkish government's current treatment of the
76Ecumenical Patriarchate is inconsistent with the membership
77conditions and goals of the European Union, and
78     WHEREAS, Orthodox Christians in this state and throughout
79the United States stand to lose their spiritual leader because
80of the continued actions of the Turkish government, and
81     WHEREAS, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the
82Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, a group of laymen who each have
83been honored with a patriarchal title, or "offikion," by the
84Ecumenical Patriarch for their outstanding service to the
85Orthodox Church, participated in a Religious Freedom Mission to
86the European Union in pursuit of human rights and religious
87freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarch from January 26 to February
887, 2010, NOW, THEREFORE
90Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
92     That the Congress of the United States is urged to
93encourage the Government of Turkey to:
94     (1)  Uphold and safeguard religious and human rights
95without compromise.
96     (2)  Cease its discrimination of the Ecumenical
98     (3)  Grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate
99international recognition, ecclesiastic succession, and the
100right to train clergy of all nationalities.
101     (4)  Respect the property rights and human rights of the
102Ecumenical Patriarchate.
103     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be
104dispatched to the President of the United States, to the
105President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the
106United States House of Representatives, and to each member of
107the Florida delegation to the United States Congress.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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