By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
For the Archon and AHI Webinar
The Legal Status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Under the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923
June 9, 2023
Dr. George P. Zimmar, Archon Prostatis Ton Grammaton, and Chair of the Archon Academic Symposia Committee,
Archon Exarchos, Stamatios Kartalopoulos, Vice Chair of the Committee,
Archon Hartoularios, Nicholas Larigakis, CEO of AHI and Moderator of today’s Webinar,
Drs. Kitroeff, Kyrou, Novo, and Prodromou, our outstanding presenters,
Archon Commander Limberakis and Esteemed Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the American Hellenic Institute, for organizing this important webinar today. The One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne is a milestone that should not and must not be ignored, as the history of the implementation (or non-implementation) of the Treaty has had tremendous consequences in the lives of millions of human beings.
We have an outstanding panel today, and with our moderator, our dear friend Nicholas Larigakis, the CEO of AHI, we will certainly have an incisive and illuminating discussion.
Lausanne is one hundred years old, and the changes that have impacted the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox communities inside modern Turkey have multiplied exponentially in this same period. The reduction of these communities to a mere fraction of what should have been their magnitude, has had effects never intended one hundred years ago. The idea of a peaceful coexistence of religious and ethnic minorities with the dominant ruling class has been challenged again and again. It is a history of diminution that must be checked by the very international community that brought about Lausanne in the first place.
Furthermore, given the fault lines within Orthodoxy – particularly over Ukraine, Orthodox Africa, and the future of Christianity in the Middle East – the ultimate entelechy of Lausanne now possesses a significantly augmented impact.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate remains the chief and principal rudder, which can navigate how Orthodox Christianity – with over a quarter of a billion souls – will succeed in living out the Gospel of Christ in increasingly complex and complicated geopolitical circumstances. The free and unhindered abilities of the Mother Church of Constantinople to exercise its purely spiritual mission, and its central role as the Convener of World Orthodoxy, hinges upon its status within Turkey.
To this end, a more complete understanding of the Treaty of Lausanne, and how this international settlement impacted and continues to impact world affairs, is more necessary than ever.
Once again, I express my gratitude to the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the American Hellenic Institute for organizing this crucial webinar today, and I pray that its results will lead to initiatives and approaches that foster peaceful, constructive, and positive outcomes for all parties, especially for the Holy Great Church of Christ.