Five Hundred Years On
Five hundred and fifty-three years on, the Turkish thirst for devastation have not yet been quenched. Churches in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been converted to restaurants and hotels. Countless holy relics remain in Turkish museums. Anti-Greek pogroms were arranged in the City on September 6th, 1955 - the Greek population in the City then was 100,000 strong. Now, it is estimated to be less than 1500. The Turks continue to deny their role in wiping out millions of Christians - Orthodox and Oriental alike.
Armenians from Kesaria - they were all killed by Turks one hour after this photograph was taken
The Patriarch Athenagoras stands at the ruins of the Church of Ss Constantine and Helena of Ypsomatheion
Armenian refugees during the Armenian Genocide (1915 to 1917)
Having decimated the Greek populations of Constantinople, Thrace and Asia Minor, they now attempt to eradicate the last vestiges of Greek culture. Islamists have openly advocated that the (remaining) walls of Constantinople be torn down. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been bombed by the ideological heirs of the Young Turks.
Sadness and faith in a destroyed church
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the only Byzantine office to have survived the fall of the City. Its expulsion is desired by Islamist and Turkish nationalist alike.
It is honestly not inconceivable to me that the Patriarchate will have to vacate the Queen of Cities within a generation.
And Turkey has just that intention. It requires Turkish citizenship for the Patriarch, yet has conveniently ethnically cleansed all the Christians (Orthodox and Oriental alike), and at the same time, refusing to open the theological school and Halki.
Since no one is expelling the Ecumenical Patriarch from Constantinople at the immediate moment, ideas as to where he might go are in the realm of speculation. With that caveat, here are a few possibilities (thought up by Incognitus at the Byzantine Forum):
Chambesy: well, not perhaps the best solution, because the Patriarch would once again find himself with a very small flock. Possible, though.
New York: interesting. I take it for granted that if the Ecumenical Patriarch took up residence in the USA the jurisdictional problem in the USA would collapse.
Rhodes: well, it is unquestionably his, and it is outside of Turkey. Getting to or from Rhodes might be a bit of a nuisance, but nothing major against it.
Thessaloniki: now there's an interesting idea. As Bartholomew has recently made clear, this is also a territory which belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and which has a long connection to Constantinople - in fact to Byzantium, if I may make such a distinction. It also has a Patriarchal Monastery and Institute (Vlatadon). Getting down to brass tacks, it has a major international airport and other modern necessities of life - and I'm confident that the city fathers, whoever they may be, can grasp the point that having their city as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch might be very good for Thessaloniki. Whether the Church of Greece would share their happiness is a different question.
On the other hand (said Incognitus, still speculating) there is an unpleasant consideration back in Constantinople: the "Turkish Orthodox Church" still maintains a shadowy existence, complete with "Patriarch". I would not put it past the Turkish government to announce that an Ecumenical Patriarch who left Constantinople more-or-less permanently had thereby resigned - and then installing this Turkish "Patriarch-in-waiting" in the Phanar, in hopes of causing more chaos in the Orthodox world.
Note: The "Turkish Orthodox Church" is an awful parody of the Chinese Patriotic Church. She has a patriarch and five bishops - but lacks a congregation of any sort.
Let us pray for the delivarance of all Christians who live under the Turkish yoke.