BILL REQ. #:  H-0232.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By Representatives Wallace and Hinkle

Read first time 01/15/09.   Referred to Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs.

     We, your Memorialists, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Washington, in legislative session assembled, respectfully represent and petition as follows:
     WHEREAS, The Ecumenical Patriarchate, located in Istanbul, Turkey, is the Sacred See that presides in a spirit of brotherhood over a communion of self-governing churches of the Orthodox Christian World; and
     WHEREAS, The See is led by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is the two hundred sixty-ninth in direct succession to the Apostle Andrew and holds titular primacy as primus inter pares, meaning "first among equals," in the community of Orthodox churches worldwide; and
     WHEREAS, In 1994, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along with leaders of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, cosponsored the Conference on Peace and Tolerance, which brought together Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders for an interfaith dialogue to help end the Balkan conflict and the ethnic conflict in the Caucasus region; and
     WHEREAS, In 1997, the Congress of the United States awarded Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with the Congressional Gold Medal; and
     WHEREAS, Following the terrorist attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gathered a group of international religious leaders to produce the first joint statement with Muslim leaders that condemned the September 11th attacks as "antireligious"; and
     WHEREAS, In October 2005, the Ecumenical Patriarch, along with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, cosponsored the second Conference on Peace and Tolerance to further promote peace and stability in southeastern Europe, the Caucasus region, and Central Asia via religious leaders' interfaith dialogue, understanding, and action; and
     WHEREAS, The Orthodox Christian Church, in existence for nearly two thousand years, numbers approximately three hundred million members worldwide with more than two million members in the United States; and
     WHEREAS, Since 1453, the continuing presence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey has been a living testament to the religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims; and
     WHEREAS, This religious coexistence is in jeopardy because the Ecumenical Patriarchate is considered a minority religion by the Turkish government; and
     WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey has limited the candidates available to hold the office of Ecumenical Patriarch to only Turkish nationals, and from the millions of Orthodox Christians living in Turkey at the turn of the twentieth century and due to the continued policies during this period by the Turkish government, there remain less than three thousand of the Ecumenical Patriarch's flock left in Turkey today; and
     WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey closed the Theological School on the Island of Halki in 1971 and has refused to allow it to reopen, thus impeding training for Orthodox Christian clergy; and
     WHEREAS, The Turkish government has confiscated nearly ninety-four percent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's properties and has placed a forty-two percent tax, retroactive to 1999, on the Baloukli Hospital and Home for the Aged, a charity hospital run by the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and
     WHEREAS, The European Union, a group of nations with a common goal of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples, began accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3, 2005; and
     WHEREAS, The European Union defined membership criteria for accession at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, obligating candidate countries to achieve certain levels of reform, including stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for and protection of minorities and human rights; and
     WHEREAS, The Turkish government's current treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is inconsistent with the membership conditions and goals of the European Union; and
     WHEREAS, Orthodox Christians in this state and throughout the United States stand to lose their spiritual leader because of the continued actions of the Turkish government; and
     WHEREAS, The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, a group of laymen who each have been honored with a patriarchal title, or "offikion," by the Ecumenical Patriarch for their outstanding service to the Orthodox Church, will send an American delegation to Turkey to meet with Turkish government officials, as well as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, regarding the Turkish government's treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
     NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully pray that the Government of Turkey:
     (1) Uphold and safeguard religious and human rights without compromise;
     (2) Cease its discrimination of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
     (3) Grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition, ecclesiastic succession, and the right to train clergy of all nationalities; and
     (4) Respect the property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
     BE IT RESOLVED, That copies of this Memorial be immediately transmitted to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, United States Secretary of State, and each member of Congress from the State of Washington.

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