Greek Orthodox church supports Turkey’s Syria offensive


Greek Orthodox Patriarch Backs Turkey’s Syria Mission | Greek Reporter Europe
Turkish media on Friday reported that the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, has backed Turkey’s military action in northern Syria.

Source: Ahval News

The Orthodox Christian community of Turkey has moved to show its support to the country’s armed forces, which launched a military campaign, “Operation Olive Branch”, against armed Kurdish groups in northwestern Syria on Jan. 20.

Although the vast majority of Turkey’s population is Muslim, the country’s geography and history hold an important place for Christianity. Some of the most important locations for Eastern Orthodox Christians lie in Turkey, including the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, in Istanbul.

Bartholomew I expressed his support for Turkey’s military operation in a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to the news site Greek Reporter.

“We pray that you and the Turkish Armed Forces will achieve success and ‘Operation Olive Branch’ will bring peace to the area as its name promises,” the letter read.

This support was echoed further south, when a Greek Orthodox church in the southern Turkish city of Iskenderun flew a Turkish flag to convey its good wishes for the operation, said the Turkish news site Gerçek Gündem.

Representatives from the Jewish and Armenian communities of Turkey, two of the country’s other historical minority groups, also voiced their support for the campaign, as the pro-government Daily Sabah reported on Jan. 24.



  1. George D. Karcazes on

    How sad.

    The titular “World Leader of Orthodoxy” clinging to survival in an increasingly despotic, Islamist, anti-American dictatorship … where opposition politicians, teachers and journalists are being jailed every day.. feels compelled to issue a statement in support of Turkish troops mounting an offensive in Syria against Kurdsish forces who have been allied with America in a fight against ISIS and other groups chanting “death to the United States” and “Death to Israel”.

    Wouldn’t a call for a cease-fire.. or a prayer for peace and for mercy towards innocent civilians.. women and children.. caught in the cross-fire … have been more appropriate?

    Perhaps a hedge against further persecution of an already dwindling, and beleaguered Orthodox community is the most we can expect in terms of moral leadership Church leaders today. The reference of reports in a pro-government newspaper that “the Jewish and Armenian communities of Turkey.. also voiced their support for the campaign” was perhaps intended to give “cover” to the head of the Christian minority in Turkey. It only adds to our sadness.

    So Orthodox Christians and Jews and Armenians in Turkey find themselves in the same boat today.

    Each one “feeding (the Kurds to) the alligators, hoping to be the last ones to be eaten.” [Paraphrasing Winston Churchill]

  2. Why is the church even getting involved
    You think this silly act will bring you favor
    Have you lost you memory or ever read history
    Islam is not your friend !!!!!!

  3. Fr. Basil Papanikolaou on

    I am an emotionally, ecclesiastically and in many respects psychologically abused by my Orthodox Church priest, who served the Church faithfully for 48 years. Why? Because I committed the “crime” of remarrying after a devastating widowhood. Applying forged, misanthropic and inhumane “canons,” my Mother Church deprived me of my sacred priesthood, while “taking care” and covering so many scandalous instances of clergy, not only deacons and priests, even bishops and other high ranking church officials.
    I have repeatedly appealed to the patriarch and his synod ro restore me to my rightful place and let me be the priest I was for 48 yeas (and still am) but my voice has fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, whatever the patriarch now says about all issues I simply consider empty rhetoric!

  4. Father Papanikolaou,
    I am deeply sorry for the loss of your wife. I am at a loss as to why you keep complaining about your situation. You knew the rules before you became a priest. What is so bad about being alone? There are millions of lonely people in this world. Why do you think you deserve “special treatment?” If you were so lonely,you could have bought yourself a dog or recommitted your life to helping those who are hurting lonely and in pain. It seems like it is all about you. Get over it!

    • We have something called, “kat’oikonomia”, like special dispensation in the Catholic Church. If you really knew Fr. Basil you would want to see him reinstated because truly he will be a priest forever and he’s a loving and caring person. Yes, the “rule” is there but I personally know two Greek Orthodox priests who were either ordained or reinstated after a second marriage. I’m sure that there are other examples of special dispensation extended and for less worthy reasons who want to supposedly be right with God
      Kat’ oikonomia goes back for many centuries in the Church, perhaps as far back when St. Peter denied Christ three times. Christ evidently forgave him and kind of made him the first among equals. So, bottom line it’s none of my business what the present or future hierarchy decides to do in cases like Fr. Basil; however, let’s at least look first at the fact that Fr. Basil is as human as St. Peter was, not judge him and recognize that he wants to serve Christ in the fulness of his priesthood. May God grant his wishes as He sees fit.
      How about we pray for Fr Basil and his Presvytera?

    • How dare you respond to this priest in such a horrible manner? Your heart is stone-cold and the words from your lips are full of poison.. If you have nothing better to say to this priest then shut your mouth and look at your sinful self in the mirror. Perhaps then you might discover what a filthy rag you truly are.

      • Hi Vasilios,
        From what the priest has described, I believe he has lived a charmed, blessed life. He had a job that he loved for 48 years, was paid rather handsomely, was married for over 40 years, and had the blessing of raising three children. I wish these glorious blessings on everyone.
        I don’t believe his church has abused him in any way. That makes a mockery of the millions of suffering people in the world who are the victims of real abuse.
        Let me tell a true story. I can look at a garage from the door of my Orthodox Church. A real heartbreaking tragedy transpired in this garage that should you some much needed perspective.
        A girl had just celebrated her thirteenth birthday two weeks prior this tragedy she suffered. Her father died of a sudden, unexpected heart attack less than a year before. She was walking to her house after visiting her father’s grave behind her house when her fifty two year old neighbor asked her to help him move his boat feigning a bad back. When she entered his garage to help him, he proceeded to shut the garage door, lock it and brutally beat, rape and murder her. Her dead body was found in his basement buried under some junk. I think of the way she, her mother, and hers sister suffered, it tears my heart out. She was only three years older than my daughter at the time. She never got to go to her junior and senior proms, graduate from high school, college, have a career, or get married and become a mom. These are all things this priest was blessed with in his life.
        When I think of poor Melissa, it makes me sick when a priest complains all over the internet, and a newspaper about the abuse he did not suffer at the hands of his Orthodox church. I have no sympathy for someone who has lived a charmed life, and proceeds to slander his church by claiming ” abuse.” Look at the suffering in Florida, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for this man. He has no reason to wallow in self pity. The fact that he was laicized does not prevent him from reaching out to people with real problems and helping them. Your vitriolic post says more about you than it does me. I forgive you for your deeply sinful post toward me.

  5. Hi Jim,
    When I think of all the suffering in the world, his situation is insignificant. As far as judging him is concerned, I find it sad that he would demean his Church and accuse it of abuse. He has done this all over the internet and in a newspaper. How about we focus on people who have suffered real tragedies in their lives? Life has a way of upsetting our plans, rain falls on every garden, and there are real tragedies in people’s lives. Don Corleone said it best, “You can act like a man.”

  6. Dear Jim,
    I have to admit that I am greatly surprised that you would post your message yesterday in view of the very real tragedy that has befallen many people in Florida. Let’s pray for the very real victims in Florida instead of worrying about small, insignificant events that mean absolutely nothing. My heart goes out to these dear children, their parents, friends, and teachers.

  7. Timothy Nicholas on

    If everything this Fr. Basil says is correct, the discussion should be whether our Orthodox Church is really outdated and anachronistic, using canons and standards that betray the true spirit of the Gospel. As far as I know, here are some basics of our faith regarding priesthood:
    First, returning a priest to the status of a layman is unheard of, according to theologians of Dogmatics. A priest receives the Grace of God during ordination; can you take it back? Can you take the grace of Baptism from a baptized person and declare him (her) non-baptized?
    Second, a medical doctor or lawyer may lose their license for some reason; however, they’re still a doctor or lawyer; they do not lose their professional ID and may be restored; why can’t this kind of dispensation apply here and restore this man to his rightful place?
    Third, as is well known, priests and bishops have committed REAL crimes, widowed priests have remarried and continued being priests, divorced priests have been forgiven, and married again. How come our church authorities ignore the plea of this man? What is really his sin? Would it be better to remain a widower and scandalize his people by having extra-marital affairs, like many have done and do?
    Ignoring this case by the patriarch and his synod makes no sense in this age!

    • Johannes Ypsilantis on

      Nobody has a “rightful place” in the Orthodox Church. We are sinners. Lord have mercy on me a sinner.

      Many of our Saints were removed from their position, beaten, or jailed for standing up for Orthodox truth against the ecclesiastical authorities of their time. They were in the right and yet accepted their discipline with humility. This is the path of salvation.

      This is not a counsel of blind obedience. You do not murder or commit adultery or alter the teachings of the Church in any way when your priest or bishop or patriarch tells you to. But you accept whatever sanctions they put on you for refusing meekly and humbly while praying for the enlightenment of your and their souls.

      We are entitled to nothing. The workman is worthy of his hire.

  8. Hi Timothy,
    “The Orthodox Church follows St. Paul’s instruction that our spiritual leaders be married to only one woman. Thus, if a priest’s wife dies( or there is a divorce),, he can never remarry and remain a priest; in such circumstances, he is also expected to be celibate.” I can’t sympathize with a man who displays such unseemly, undignified, and unmanly behavior to say that he is the ” victim” of abuse by his “beloved” Orthodox Church. Remember, we are getting only one version- his! There is a lot of the story he has left out, and he also contradicts himself in some of his posts on the internet. How about we do this? Let’s obey all the canons of the church- no exceptions! Seventeen children have died in Florida from a mass shooting- and we’re discussing this drool?

  9. Timothy Nicholas on

    To be honest, Johannes reply makes no sense to me, it’s not to the point we discuss.
    As for Konstantinos, it’s rather obvious that you’re hiding yourself under a pseudonym and express real vitriol against this priest.
    Your comments and biblical references as well as your reference on what happened in Florida do not make good discussion either. We are on different levels!

  10. Hi Timothy,
    I have no vitriol toward this priest; I just not a big fan of whining and complaining. Why have no priests come to his defense? What would the saintly Kay Valone say about this? I’m sure she was very lonely at times, but did she ever complain? There are hundreds of millions of suffering people in this world that make his complaints a travesty. The only thing I agree with is that we are on different levels. I wish the priest would come clean and tell us the whole story.

    • Timothy Nicholas on

      I am really perplexed about your recent comments, Who, in the world, is Kay Valone, so we can communicate meaningfully.
      How would this priest “come clean” and what else would like to know of “the whole story?” What is missing?

  11. Hi Timothy,
    You seem like a real gentleman. I have nothing against you or the priest whatsoever. I don’t mean any offense to you, but the priest’s situation is not important to me. I was only expressing my opinion, but he really is not on my radar screen. You support him? Great! I salute you for doing what you think is right. May God bless you and your family.

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