SPRINGFIELD, IL – On May 30, the Illinois State House of Representatives unanimously passed HR0348 which recognizes the October 19th as the 50th anniversary of the priesthood of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians throughout the world.
“WHEREAS, The outstanding accomplishments of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have been formally recognized and honored by numerous governmental, academic, and other institutions around the world; therefore, be it RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Priesthood for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on October 19, 2019; and be it further RESOLVED, That we recognize the importance to Illinois, the United States, and to the world of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s leadership on matters of the environment, peace, and religion…” HR0348 declares.
The resolution also includes a reconfirmation of their previous calls for the Turkish Government to reopen the historic Halki Seminary, forcible closed by the Turkish government in 1971. Founded 175 years ago in October of 1844, it was the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Previously the Illinois House passed HR666 in 2007 and the Illinois Senate passed SR0070 in 2013, both of which called on the Turkish Government to reopen Halki along with other provisions to ease restrictions on the worldwide leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
“… and encourage United States foreign policy makers to continue to urge Turkey to grant religious freedom and property rights to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as to reopen the theological school at Halki,” HR0348 further states.
HR0348 was written by John C. Ackerman (R) of Washington, Illinois, who was elected in 2018 Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds and is a Greek Orthodox parishioner. It was sponsored in the Illinois House by Representative Tim Butler (R) of Springfield, Illinois.
“It is my hope and desire this important statement by the Illinois House of Representatives not only recognizes the 50th Anniversary of priesthood of this extremely important and influential worldwide leader of Christianity but also serves as a renewal of public awareness of the stringent restrictions and limitations placed on the Ecumenical Patriarch. His All Holiness may be in the religious minority in the nation he is based in but has a major worldwide impact on Christianity,” said Ackerman, concerning passage of this resolution.
He continued, “With the 175th Anniversary of this historic school of religious education, and the 50th Anniversary of the Priesthood of one of that institutes most influential leaders, both occurring this October, now is the time for the Turkish government to allow for the reopening of Halki Seminary.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is the spiritual leader of over 300 million Eastern Orthodox parishioners worldwide. His All Holiness Bartholomew was born in the village of Zeytinli on the island of Imbros and belongs to the historically indigenous Rum, descendants of the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire Greek community in Turkey. He was ordained a priest on October 19, 1969 by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. On October 22, 1991, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was elected the 270th Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is recognized in the United States and abroad as a leader in the quest for world peace, greater religious understanding, and respect for the Earth’s environment. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew enhanced greater religious understanding by initiating a joint declaration stating that it is man’s duty to protect the earth, signed by himself and Pope John Paul II, together the spiritual leaders of nearly one out of every five people in the world.
The Resolution by the Illinois House of Represenatives ends with the statement “we express our support for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s noble efforts for the betterment of humankind.”
Ackerman stated that he intends to send official copies of HR0348 to the Ecumenical Patriarch with a photo of himself and Representative Butler in the State Capital. He also stated that he has already made arrangements for a similar statement recognizing the Patriarch’s 50th Anniversary and support of Halki to be made by the United States House of Representatives in September of this year.