July 08, 2020
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       Florida Senate - 2010                                     SM 314
       
       
       
       By Senator Fasano
       
       
       
       
       11-00399-10                                            2010314__
    1                           Senate Memorial                         
    2         A memorial to the Congress of the United States,
    3         urging Congress to encourage the Government of Turkey
    4         to grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate
    5         international recognition, ecclesiastical succession,
    6         and the right to train clergy of all nationalities and
    7         to respect the property rights and human rights of the
    8         Ecumenical Patriarchate.
    9  
   10         WHEREAS, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, located in Istanbul,
   11  Turkey, is the Sacred See that presides in a spirit of
   12  brotherhood over a communion of self-governing churches of the
   13  Orthodox Christian world, and
   14         WHEREAS, the See is led by Ecumenical Patriarch
   15  Bartholomew, who is the 269th in direct succession to the
   16  Apostle Andrew and holds titular primacy as primus inter pares,
   17  meaning “first among equals,” in the community of Orthodox
   18  churches worldwide, and
   19         WHEREAS, in 1994, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along
   20  with leaders of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, cosponsored
   21  the Conference on Peace and Tolerance, which brought together
   22  Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders for an
   23  interfaith dialogue to help end the Balkan conflict and the
   24  ethnic conflict in the Caucasus region, and
   25         WHEREAS, in 1997, the Congress of the United States awarded
   26  Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the Congressional Gold Medal,
   27  and
   28         WHEREAS, following the terrorist attacks on our nation on
   29  September 11, 2001, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gathered a
   30  group of international religious leaders to produce the first
   31  joint statement with Muslim leaders that condemned those attacks
   32  as “antireligious,” and
   33         WHEREAS, in October 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarch, along
   34  with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, cosponsored the
   35  Conference on Peace and Tolerance II to further promote peace
   36  and stability in southeastern Europe, the Caucasus region, and
   37  Central Asia via religious leaders’ interfaith dialogue,
   38  understanding, and action, and
   39         WHEREAS, the Orthodox Christian Church, in existence for
   40  nearly 2,000 years, numbers approximately 300 million members
   41  worldwide, with more than 2 million members in the United
   42  States, and
   43         WHEREAS, since 1453, the continuing presence of the
   44  Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey has been a living testament to
   45  the religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims, and
   46         WHEREAS, this religious coexistence is in jeopardy because
   47  the Ecumenical Patriarchate is considered a minority religion by
   48  the Turkish government, and
   49         WHEREAS, the Government of Turkey has limited the
   50  candidates available to hold the office of Ecumenical Patriarch
   51  to only Turkish nationals; and, out of the millions of Orthodox
   52  Christians who were living in Turkey at the turn of the 20th
   53  century, there remain as a result of the policies of the Turkish
   54  government during this period fewer than 3,000 of the Ecumenical
   55  Patriarch’s flock left in that country today, and
   56         WHEREAS, the Government of Turkey closed the Theological
   57  School on the island of Halki in 1971 and has refused to allow
   58  it to reopen, thus impeding training for Orthodox Christian
   59  clergy, and
   60         WHEREAS, the Turkish government has confiscated nearly 94
   61  percent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s properties and has
   62  placed a 42 percent tax, retroactive to 1999, on the Baloukli
   63  Hospital and Home for the Aged, a charity hospital run by the
   64  Ecumenical Patriarchate, and
   65         WHEREAS, the European Union, a group of nations with a
   66  common goal of promoting peace and the well-being of its
   67  peoples, began accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3,
   68  2005, and
   69         WHEREAS, the European Union defined membership criteria for
   70  accession at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, obligating
   71  candidate countries to achieve certain levels of reform,
   72  including stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy,
   73  adherence to the rule of law, and respect for and protection of
   74  minorities and human rights, and
   75         WHEREAS, the Turkish government’s current treatment of the
   76  Ecumenical Patriarchate is inconsistent with the membership
   77  conditions and goals of the European Union, and
   78         WHEREAS, Orthodox Christians in this state and throughout
   79  the United States stand to lose their spiritual leader because
   80  of the continued actions of the Turkish government, and
   81         WHEREAS, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the
   82  Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, a group of laymen who each have
   83  been honored with a patriarchal title, or “offikion,” by the
   84  Ecumenical Patriarch for their outstanding service to the
   85  Orthodox Church, will send an American delegation to Turkey to
   86  meet with Turkish government officials, as well as the United
   87  States Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, regarding the
   88  Turkish government’s treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
   89  NOW, THEREFORE,
   90  
   91  Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   92  
   93         That the Congress of the United States is urged to
   94  encourage the Government of Turkey to:
   95         (1) Uphold and safeguard religious and human rights without
   96  compromise.
   97         (2) Cease its discrimination of the Ecumenical
   98  Patriarchate.
   99         (3) Grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate
  100  international recognition, ecclesiastic succession, and the
  101  right to train clergy of all nationalities.
  102         (4) Respect the property rights and human rights of the
  103  Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  104         BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be
  105  dispatched to the President of the United States, to the
  106  President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the
  107  United States House of Representatives, and to each member of
  108  the Florida delegation to the United States Congress.

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