Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SR0070
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Full Text of SR0070  98th General Assembly



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2    WHEREAS, The Ecumenical Patriarchate, located in Istanbul,
3Turkey, is the Sacred See that presides in a spirit of
4brotherhood over a communion of self-governing churches of the
5Orthodox Christian world; and
6    WHEREAS, The See is led by Ecumenical Patriarch
7Bartholomew, who is the 269th in direct succession to the
8Apostle Andrew and holds titular primacy as primus inter pares,
9meaning "first among equals," in the community of Orthodox
10churches world-wide; and
11    WHEREAS, In 1994, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along
12with leaders of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation,
13cosponsored the Conference on Peace and Tolerance, which
14brought together Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious
15leaders for an interfaith dialogue to help end the Balkan
16conflict and the ethnic conflict in the Caucasus region; and
17    WHEREAS, In 1997, the Congress of the United States awarded
18Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with the Congressional Gold
19Medal; and
20    WHEREAS, Following the terrorist attacks on our nation on
21September 11, 2001, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gathered



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1a group of international religious leaders to produce the first
2joint statement with Muslim leaders that condemned the 9/11
3attacks as "antireligious"; and
4    WHEREAS, In October 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarch, along
5with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, cosponsored the
6Conference on Peace and Tolerance II to further promote peace
7and stability in southeastern Europe, the Caucasus region, and
8Central Asia via religious leaders' interfaith dialogue,
9understanding, and action; and
10    WHEREAS, The Orthodox Christian Church, in existence for
11nearly 2,000 years, numbers approximately 300,000,000 members
12world-wide with more than 2,000,000 members in the United
13States; and
14    WHEREAS, Since 1453, the continuing presence of the
15Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey has been a living testament
16to the religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims; and
17    WHEREAS, This religious coexistence is in jeopardy because
18the Ecumenical Patriarchate is considered a minority religion
19by the Turkish government; and
20    WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey has limited the
21candidates available to hold the office of Ecumenical Patriarch



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1to only Turkish nationals, and from the millions of Orthodox
2Christians living in Turkey at the turn of the 20th century and
3due to the continued policies during this period by the Turkish
4government, there remain less than 3,000 of the Ecumenical
5Patriarch's flock left in Turkey today; and
6    WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey closed the Theological
7School on the island of Halki in 1971 and has refused to allow
8it to reopen, thus impeding training for Orthodox Christian
9clergy; and
10    WHEREAS, The Turkish government has confiscated nearly 94%
11of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's properties and has placed a
1242% tax, retroactive to 1999, on the Baloukli Hospital and Home
13for the Aged, a charity hospital run by the Ecumenical
14Patriarchate; and
15    WHEREAS, The European Union, a group of nations with a
16common goal of promoting peace and the well-being of its
17peoples, began accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3,
182005; and
19    WHEREAS, The European Union defined membership criteria
20for accession at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993,
21obligating candidate countries to achieve certain levels of
22reform, including stability of institutions guaranteeing



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1democracy, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for and
2protection of minorities and human rights; and
3    WHEREAS, The Turkish government's current treatment of the
4Ecumenical Patriarchate is inconsistent with the membership
5conditions and goals of the European Union; and
6    WHEREAS, Orthodox Christians in this State and throughout
7the United States stand to lose their spiritual leader because
8of the continued actions of the Turkish government; and
9    WHEREAS, The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the
10Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, a group of laymen who each
11have been honored with a patriarchal title, or "offikion", by
12the Ecumenical Patriarch for their outstanding service to the
13Orthodox Church, will send an American delegation to Turkey to
14meet with Turkish government officials, as well as the United
15States Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, regarding the
16Turkish government's treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
18    WHEREAS, We rightly appreciate that the current Turkish
19government has made positive improvements over the last 8 years
20in its relation to the Ecumenical Patriarchate with respect to
21the return of two significant properties formerly in dispute,
22with respect to allowing Orthodox clergy in lands outside



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1Turkey to apply and gain citizenship in Turkey to help ensure
2the possibility of patriarchal succession, and with respect to
3the physical security of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the
4recent uncovering and thwarting of a plotted assassination of
5Patriarch Bartholomew; and
6    WHEREAS, We recognize that the current Turkish government
7has continued to negotiate and publicly address these and other
8related issues with a commitment to their resolution in a
9manner acceptable to all interested parties; therefore, be it
11ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we urge the Government
12of Turkey to uphold and safeguard religious and human rights
13without compromise, cease its discrimination of the Ecumenical
14Patriarchate, grant the Ecumenical Patriarchate appropriate
15international recognition, ecclesiastic succession, the right
16to train clergy of all nationalities, and to respect the
17property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical
18Patriarchate; and be it further
19    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
20delivered to the President of the United States, the United
21States Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, the Ambassador of
22the Republic of Turkey to the United States, and to the members
23of the Illinois Congressional Delegation.