07 December, 2005
The US on Monday firmly upheld the ecumenical status of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, in a written statement issued by the office of the State Department spokesman, following a question posed to deputy spokesman Adam Ereli during a regular press briefing earlier in the day.
Asked by a reporter what the US government position was on this issue, in a question prompted by recent statements by Turkish officials that Ankara does not recognize the ecumenical title and role of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the written response said "The US considers Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to be a religious leader of global standing".
"The U.S. takes very seriously the issue of religious freedom in Turkey, as illustrated in the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report. Among specific concerns highlighted in the report are issues related to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the reopening of the Halki Seminary, as well as issues related to other religious minorities in Turkey," the statement continued.
"The U.S. has consistently raised our concerns regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate with Turkish authorities at the highest levels for many years.
President Bush urged the re-opening of Halki Seminary in his June meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan. Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes also discussed this issue with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during her visit to Istanbul in September," the State Department's written reply concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency