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Religion | IN BRIEF

Ecumenical Patriarch Urges Turkish Reforms

September 13, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's Eastern Orthodox Christians, has called for Turkey to change its requirement that only Turkish citizens can become patriarch, citing dwindling numbers of those eligible to succeed him.

Bartholomew, 63, said Turkey should let the patriarch be elected from top clergy around the world, and give the winner Turkish citizenship, as occurred in 1948 when Athenagoras, a U.S. citizen, became patriarch.

In a rare interview Monday with CNN-Turk television, Bartholomew said only 2,000 to 3,000 ethnic Greeks remained in Istanbul, down from 125,000 a century ago. He also urged Turkey to reopen the patriarchate's theological school, which was closed in 1971 by Turkish authorities under a law putting religious education under state control.

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