WASHINGTON, DC, October 20, 2022 – Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania John Fetterman, who is running for that state’s open US Senate seat, released a strong statement regarding his opposition to Turkey’s treatment of the religious freedom of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Orthodox Christianity. He also expressed his concern about Turkey’s confiscation of thousands of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s properties, their conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, their closure of the Halki Seminary, and their practice of interference with Ecumenical Patriarchal succession.
Fetterman is running against television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, an American citizen of Turkish background. Oz did not serve in the US military, but went to Turkey to serve in their military, and did not vote in the last American election, but voted in Turkey’s election. While in Turkey, Oz expressed no objection to Turkey’s treatment of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Fetterman’s complete statement follows:
“The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone the right to religious freedom. It is an American value and a shared value of both me, and the Greek-American community. One area of particular concern for me is the country of Turkey, where bipartisan American leaders in Washington have found that religious freedom limitations have been placed on the spiritual head of the Greek Orthodox Church and of over 300 million Orthodox Christians world-wide, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Over the course of his leadership Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been a leader in interfaith dialogue; moving Muslim leaders to condemn the 9/11 attack on America as an anti-religious act. For his contributions to religious understanding and peace, Congress recognized him with the Congressional Gold Medal. And he has been recognized for his remarkable leadership in the fight against climate change.
As a U.S. Senator I will support the Greek-Orthodox’s fight for religious freedom in Turkey. I strongly believe that Turkey must protect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Church, recognize Bartholomew as the Ecumenical Patriarch, and not interfere with the election of his successor, return confiscated properties to the church, convert the Hagia Sophia back into a museum, and reopen the Halki Seminary.
I am aware of Turkey’s treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and I strongly support President Biden and Secretary Blinken’s urgency in supporting religious freedom for religious minorities in the region. I look forward to supporting the Orthodox Christian community in this fight and promoting joint action among all faith leaders.”