Turquie : terre d'unité des chrétiens ?
In Time for Orthodox Easter, A Turkish Declaration of Christian Unity
(Photo: Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher addressing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the heads of the major Turkish churches © BQ/Warnecke)
In the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, a delegation of imams approached the sultan in complaint. Western pressure forced the state to allow Christian churches to ring their bells.
“Do they all ring at the same time?” the sultan asked. No, he was told. “Then don’t worry,” he replied, “until they can agree.”
Group photo: Bishop Schirrmacher and Bishop Nedelchev of WEA (to the right) with the heads for the Turkish churches © BQ/Warnecke
Perhaps apocryphal, the story illustrates the long history of division plaguing Christianity around the world.
The Ottoman empire is gone, and Turkey is now a secular state with official freedom of religion. Bells are hardly heard these days at all, though in smaller numbers the ancient Christian communities remain.
But from Istanbul – once Constantinople – where the “Great Schism” sundered Catholicism and Orthodoxy in 1054, a new book heralds a new beginning.
Christianity: Fundamental Teachings is a simple, 95-page presentation of the common beliefs of all Turkish churches. Its 12 chapters include descriptions of the nature of God, the salvation through Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of the Bible, and the role of the church.