+Bartholomew Discusses State of Orthodoxy in 60 Minutes Segment

December 22, 2009  []

Editor’s note: In addition to being able to view the interview online at on the internet at http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml, at the bottom of this page are three additional clips labeled “Web Extras” that were prepared that didn’t make it onto the air that you may also view. In the first, Maria Khoury talks to Bob Simon about Christians in Palestine. In the second, Patriarch Bartholomew visits his home island of Imbros. The last one is a short extra clip of Cappadocia where Christians lived and worshiped during the persecutions of the early Church (the Christian churches in Jerusalem weren’t actually built until after the the time of Constantine when St. Helen went to Jerusalem, so these churches predate those).

The video and transcript are also available here: http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2009/12/ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-on-cbs-60-minutes-text-and-video/

NEW YORK — His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians who constitute the second largest Christian Church in the world, was featured on the CBS News program 60 Minutes broadcast last evening throughout the United States, and globally on the Internet at http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml.

His All Holiness, in an impressive manner combining clear and firm positions with humility and unpretentious appearance, spoke frankly about the patriarchate’s situation in the Republic of Turkey, the home of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of countless ancient Christian sites, including the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, as well as many of the most famous monuments and churches in Christendom including those of Cappadocia. A very important item preserved in the Mount Sinai Monastery of St. Catherine and presented during the interview, was a document signed by Mohammed himself, the Prophet and Founder of the Islamic Religion, in which he speaks about the right of the freedom of belief and practice of the Christian Religion.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been an outspoken supporter of Turkey’s modernization and acceptance into the European Union. In the interview, he discussed his affection and commitment to his native Turkey, but also he indicated that the Turkish government had fallen short of its own ideals as well as the ideals of the international community. He cited characteristically the case of the forcible closure of the only local Orthodox Patriarchal Seminary (Halki) in 1971 by government authorities. It has not been re-opened since then, despite continued promises by the Turkish government, and despite the fact, as the Patriarch said, that the Seminary at Halki has trained a significant number of priests who became strong promoters of peace, unity and love among the people.

When asked during the interview by veteran CBS correspondent Bob Simon “Do you feel personally Your All Holiness that you have been crucified sometimes?” the Patriarch unhesitantly answered, “Yes, I do!” But he had stated immediately before the question: “We believe in miracles… after the Crucifixion the Resurrection comes. We believe in the Resurrection.”

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, commented that “our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew offered during his 60 Minutes interview a superb and compelling witness for our Ecumenical Patriarchate. Painfully, but calmly and without any trace of hostility, he presented the tremendous difficulties that the Patriarchate faces. As we know, the difficulties include in addition to the closure of Halki, the refusal of the Turkish Government to recognize the title “Ecumenical” for the Patriarch, the confiscation of innumerable properties of the Patriarchate and the denial of the legal status of the Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarch emphatically stated the need for the Turkish Government to finally act in accordance with the ideals of democracy and freedom of religion which it frequently likes to proclaim.”

60 Minutes is the pre-eminent investigative television news show in the United States and has run on CBS since 1968. It has been among the top-rated TV programs for much of its life and has garnered numerous awards over the years.

More information about His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s work for religious freedom, human rights environmental conservation, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as texts of his addresses may be found at http://www.patriarchate.org.

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