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Official Documents on Bombing of Ecumenical Patriarchate

NEW YORK -- His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, condemned last night's bombing in Istanbul which seriously injured a clergyman and severely damaged the roof of the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George and offices of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

"Six weeks after he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the Ecumenical Patriarch was threatened by a bomb blast directed at him and his Church. This is unacceptable,” said His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon. "It is inconceivable that the basic human rights, such as freedom of worship, the ability to live a peaceful life according to the law of one's own country, and the freedom to live with the constant fear of having one's life and property destroyed without cause,are still abused and denied in countries such as Turkey."

The Patriarchate is the seat of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, who completed a one month visit to the United States on November 17th. The trip which began in Washington,DC, included meetings with President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and religious,academic and political leaders in 16 cities.

The most recent attack on the Patriarchate took place early this morning severely injuring Deacon Nektarios who was working in his office. He is expected to recover following three hours of surgery at the American Hospital in Istanbul.

A grenade attack in September 1996 also damaged the Church of St. George but no one was injured.

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2] OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP SPYRIDON OF AMERICA
December 3, 1997
RESPONSE TO BOMBING OF ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
OFFICIAL STATEMENT
BY HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP SPYRIDON
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon of America strongly condemned this latest criminal act of the bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, on December 3, 1997.

Upon reflecting on this act of terror, the serious wounding of a clergyman, and the destruction of property of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Eminence said:

"Six weeks after he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the Ecumenical Patriarch was threatened by a bomb blast directed at him and his Church. This is unacceptable. At the dawn of the 21st century, it is inconceivable that the basic human rights, such as the freedom of worship, the ability to live a peaceful life according to the law of one’s country, and the freedom to live without the constant fear of having one’s life and property destroyed without cause, are still abused and denied in countries such as Turkey. How can a person claim for himself to be civilized, to be peace-loving, to be respectful of human rights and to be treated as part of the civilized world when his own actions violate these universally accepted tenets of humanity.
I condemn all violence and persecution of human beings everywhere, for every person is gifted by God with dignity, honor, and the right to live a peaceful life. It is the responsibility of the Government of Turkey to provide safety and security for all of her citizens, and to seriously obey the international rules which govern a civilized society.

I, on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and all those who seek justice and peace throughout the world, condemn this act of violence and terror that occurred at the heart of Orthodox Christianity. Along with the clergyman who was seriously injured as a result of this bombing, over 300 million Orthodox Christians, and in fact all people of good will, have been wounded by this evil act.

I simply ask myself and the world: Is it possible that after nearly 2,000 years of uninterrupted history that in the latter days of the 20th century, the beacon of Orthodoxy the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople which provides the light of faith, peace, and universal hope for all people, still lives in the shadows of such violent hatred?"
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3] SCOBA PRESS RELEASE
December 3, 1997
RESPONSE TO BOMBING OF ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
OFFICIAL STATEMENT
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) representing 6 million Orthodox Christians in America, expresses its outrage and dismay regarding the bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, on Tuesday, December 3, 1997.

The bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchal compound seriously injured a clergyman and damaged the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, and has again renewed the feeling of insecurity and terror for the Orthodox Christian minority living in Istanbul, Turkey.

The member Hierarchs of SCOBA stand united in condemning all violence and persecution of human beings everywhere regardless of national origin, faith, or personal political conviction.

The bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is an attack on basic human rights which must be condemned by all people of good will everywhere.

On behalf of the members of SCOBA, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of American and Chairman of SCOBA, has issued the following statement to the Press:
+Archbishop SPYRIDON
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
+Metropolitan PHILIP
Antiochian Orthodox Christian
Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA
& Candada
+Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox
Greek Catholic Diocese in the U.S.A.
+Metropolitan THEODOSIUS
Orthodox Church in America
+Archbishop VICTORIN
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese
in America and Canada
+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.
Very Reverend Protopresbyter Ilia Katre
Vicar General
Albanian Orthodox Diocese
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4] LETTER SENT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON BY HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP SPYRIDON
December 3, 1997
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President;

I pray that this letter finds you well and being blessed by the grace of God during these most holy days of the Advent Season.
It saddens my heart that just days after the visit of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the White House and the meaningful conversation which you shared with the Ecumenical Patriarch that I write to personally bring to your attention that the Patriarchal compound in Istanbul, Turkey has been bombed and that a clergyman of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was seriously injured by this terrible act of violence.
It is inconceivable that at the dawn of the 21st century that human rights, freedom of religion and the desire to live a peaceful life are still being trod upon in Turkey.

Mr. President, you met the Ecumenical Patriarch and heard, as did all Americans, his message of peace, love and reconciliation. Is it possible that the response to this message could be a bomb, bloodshed, destruction of property and the blatant trampling upon of the spiritual message of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is being proclaimed for nearly 2,000 years?

As we anticipate the Birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and accept His message of love for all people into our hearts, it is my prayer that the Lord inspire you and guide you to use your honorable office to protect those who suffer and who are being persecuted at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and throughout the world.

With heartfelt prayers for a blessed Christmas Season,
+ Spyridon
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America