No respite in holy turf war

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and his senior bishops met in Istanbul yesterday to formulate a response to the latest move by the Church of Greece in an increasingly bitter turf war concerning control of 36 Greek bishoprics. Although no official announcements were made on the decision taken at the meeting – other than that it would be conveyed to Athens next week – sources in Istanbul said Vartholomaios rejected a Church of Greece compromise proposal. Under the deal advanced by Archbishop Christodoulos, Vartholomaios could look at a list of candidate bishops for Greek sees liberated from the Turks after 1912, but final approval would lie with the Church of Greece. The patriarch wants to edit the list. The question of ultimate control of appointments in the 36 bishoprics became acutely relevant after the death, in the summer, of two northern Greek bishops. The replacement process will be difficult unless the two churches reach an agreement. The government ruled out legislative reform to solve the dispute, unless both parties agreed.