Following the recent selection of the Roman Catholic pope in Rome, here in Illinois we of the Greek Orthodox faith want to focus on the ability of the cardinals to meet and decide their next leader without interference from any nation in their process, and the ease of travel for not only the leadership but also the faithful to travel without restrictions.
I appreciate these positives because unless changes are soon made, the next time my faith selects our Ecumenical Patriarchate we would not have this ability because of Turkish law. The necessary changes are the focus of a resolution currently before the Illinois State Senate as SR70.
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SR70 calls for Turkey to 1) remove government interference in our future patriarchal elections, 2) recognize the "Ecumenical" title and status of our leader, 3) remove the restrictions that deny him legal status, 4) allow for the reopening of the Theological School of Halki and 5) return the church's property that has been confiscated over the years by the Turkish government. What I do not understand at this point is why is a simple resolution, one that has not only already been passed in 42 other states but also passed by the Illinois House in 2007 with no opposition, has not already been passed by the Illinois Senate? Why would any Illinois state senator not support a resolution calling for religious freedom? His Eminence Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, wrote a personal endorsement to the state senators in support of our resolution before heading to Rome for the vital process to freely pick his next leader without fear of outside interference and harassment. If only we could count on this peaceful ability to continue our faith.
John C. Ackerman, Washington, Ill.
Frank Lagouros, Peoria