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Church

Turkey Did Not Renew Residence and Work Permits of Clerics

BOSTON – A matter has arisen with the Turkish authorities regarding the renewal of residence and work permits for clerics and other employees at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and parishes in Constantinople and elsewhere. Specifically, the Patriarch’s Archdeacon, Fr. Alexandros Koutsis, originally from Zakynthos, was forced to leave and has already returned to Greece, along with a cleric from Antalya and another from Smyrna. It is noted that residence and work permits in Turkey are renewed biennially.

Information obtained by The National Herald indicates that this issue is part of Turkey’s general approach towards immigrants lately, including those who apply for residence and work permits. It was found that the Ecumenical Patriarchate requested four hundred and eighty permits, while the total number of those serving at the Phanar – deacons, priests, and married clerics in Constantinople parishes with their wives and children – does not exceed eighty or, at most, one hundred. Turkish authorities reportedly questioned how it is possible for the Greek Community that consists of about two thousand people can have five hundred applying for residence and work permits?

Defterevon Deacon Kallinikos standing in front of the Patriarch during a Sacred Service. He will be coming to the U.S.
Photo Ecumenical Patriarchate/Nikos Papachristou

It has come to light that some individuals handling this matter – clerics and laypeople in Constantinople, apparently without the knowledge of Patriarch Bartholomew – used the Patriarchate’s name to obtain the ‘prescribed’ permits, as they described them to us, to facilitate various acquaintances, friends, and even their ‘spiritual children’. This included art restorers and acquaintances of acquaintances, and so on.

It is emphasized that Metropolitans serving at the Phanar and in Turkey generally who come from Greece, have obtained Turkish citizenship, including even the recently ordained Metropolitan Theodore of Seleucia. A

The current Chancellor of the Phanar, Archimandrite Gregory, has also obtained Turkish citizenship, but no one else beneath him has. It is noted that clerics from Greece of all ranks – deacons, presbyters, bishops – who serve at the Phanar or generally in Turkey are paid by Greece.

Meanwhile, the Second Deacon of the Patriarchal Court, Kallinikos Hasapis, is also leaving the Phanar and coming to the Archdiocese of America. At the beginning of July, he will be ordained a presbyter by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and will serve as a second priest in the community of Saints Constantine and Helen in Maryland. Deacon Kallinikos is a friend of Archbishop Elpidophoros, who granted him a scholarship for studies in Washington, DC two years ago, and now he is coming to minister in the Archdiocese of America. His father, who is a priest, has already come to New York and was appointed to a parish, while his brother is studying at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston. The community of Saints Constantine and Helen in Maryland was previously located in Washington, DC but moved to Maryland a few years ago, although it still belongs to the Direct Archdiocesan District under Archbishop Elpidophoros and not to the Metropolis of New Jersey like other churches in Maryland.

It is noted that Kallinikos is the second Deacon to leave the Patriarchal Court in the past few years. The other was the current Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, Niphon, born in Chicago and a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston.

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