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ST PAUL, MN: Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, was invited today to meet privately with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at his residence in St Paul. Bishop Demetrios was accompanied by Rev. Richard Andrews of St George Greek Orthodox Church in St Paul, Rev. Tim Sas of Twelve Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Duluth and Rev. George Dokos of St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, along with Metropolis Media Relations Director John Ackerman and Executive Assistant to the Bishop William Kallas.

While the main focus of the meeting was an opportunity for the Governor and Bishop to become better acquainted, Bishop Demetrios also took the opportunity to press Governor Dayton for passage in Minnesota of the Order of Saint Andrew (Archons) Resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Minnesota is one of two states within the oversight of the Metropolis of Chicago that has yet to pass this important resolution in support of our faith. Governor Dayton expressed interest in the resolution and pledged to seriously review and consider the issue.

The group also meet with Minnesota State Senate President Sandy Pappas while the Bishop was in Minneapolis/St Paul and requested her support. Senator Pappas was the guest of the Bishop’s at the Greek Festival at St George Greek Orthodox Church in St Paul Saturday evening. Senator Pappas committed to sponsoring the Archon Resolution in the spring of 2017 Legislative Session. She stated while she was familiar with the Archon Resolution, her visit with Bishop Demetrios and his request for passage of this important resolution has increased her commitment see Minnesota join the 44 other states that have already passed the Archon Resolution.

In 2006, the Order of Saint Andrew (Archons) initiated the Religious Freedom Resolution project. The goal of this project, which represents one component of the overall, multi-faceted Religious Freedom Initiative, is the adoption of Religious Freedom Resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in each individual state within the United States. The project has been overseen nationally by Archon Stephen Georgeson. To date, 44 of the 50 states have passed resolutions as part of this national effort.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual center of over 330 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, making Orthodoxy the second largest tradition within Christianity. Based in Istanbul (formerly, Constantinople), Turkey, since the founding of the church by the Apostle Andrew, elder brother of Apostle Peter and first of the disciples of Christ, today the Ecumenical Patriarchate faces dangers that, if left unchecked, could bring an end to this historic religious institution. The five key issues the Resolution calls attention to are:

1) Government Interference in Election of Ecumenical Patriarchate – The Turkish government insists on approving the selection of the Ecumenical Patriarch and insists that the Patriarch must be a Turkish citizen.
2) Non-recognition of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the worldwide spiritual leader of the Orthodox and treating him as simply a local priest.
3) Re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, closed by the Turkish government since 1971 and where many past Patriarchs have been trained.
4) No Legal Identity for Ecumenical Patriarchate – inhibiting the Patriarchate from taking any formal actions in Turkey in its own name and forcing the Patriarchate to use surrogates for owning property and other administrative affairs , and
5) Confiscation of Property – without a legal identity, the Turkish government claims property owned by the Patriarchate for centuries has been abandoned, and then confiscates the property.

The Metropolis of Chicago is under the leadership of Metropolitan Iakovos and oversees all Greek Orthodox Parishes within Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as eastern Missouri and northwestern Indiana.

“Since the beginning of this initiative by the Archons, as each state that has passed this resolution which has brought increased attention to this issue, we have seen progress towards addressing many of these concerns” stated Bishop Demetrios. “The State of Indiana could further add to this progress and increased attention.”

“This issue is not one European Nation in conflict with another but rather one nation placing restrictions and limitations on the ability of a worldwide spiritual leader” Metropolis Media Director John Ackerman explained. “The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual leader of over 330 million Christians worldwide. As such, we ask the legislature and more importantly the citizens of Minnesota to join us in calling on the Turkish Government to ensure Religious Freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”