Metropolitan Nikitas Receiving Turkish Citizenship
BOSTON — Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanellia, the Director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkley, Calif. traveled to Istanbul to receive his Turkish citizenship. Metropolitan Nikitas (Lulias) is the first – and for the moment only – Orthodox bishop in the United States to have put in an application for Turkish citizenship. Speaking to The National Herald for Istanbul, Metropolitan Nikitas justified his decision to go ahead with process as follows. “If it’s about strengthening the Patriarchate, I’ll do anything.” He qualified his statement by adding “I left behind my home and my parents and went to serve our Patriarchate and Orthodoxy in Asia for ten years.” Metropolitan Nikitas was the inaugural Metropolitan of Hong Kong, before leaving his post in early 2007.
“I have not yet received my citizenship, but Turkish authorities requested that I come and fill out some paperwork,” he explained. He also noted that “they’re treating us wonderfully, and they visited the Patriarchate.”
When asked if any other Orthodox bishops in America will be receiving Turkish citizenship, he replied “I don’t know if any of the hierarchs from the Archdiocese have filed an application.” He also noted that “since I do not belong to the Archdiocese of America, but directly to the Patriarchate, I did not ask, because I don’t want to cause any problems or misunderstandings.” Metropolitan Nikitas continued by saying “and since the Patriarchate mailed me the paperwork, I thought it correct to respond. Since I’m with the Patriarchate, shouldn’t I help it? Shouldn’t I support it?”
When asked what he would do if the Turkish ambassador in Washington, DC requested him to come down on March 25th and demonstrate against Greece, he replied that “I’ll tell him that I have other duties to attend to, and that I teach at the university and cannot make it.”
In response to the question of whether taking on Turkish citizenship creates any problems with his conscience, Metropolitan Nikitas answered that “on the one hand, yes; but then again, doesn’t the Patriarch have the same citizenship?”
Of course, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was born in Turkey, while Metropolitan Nikitas was born in Tampa, Fl. However, as the Metropolitan points out, “I’ll do anything for the Patriarchate. I was born in the United States, but I received my Greek citizenship, and I also hold permanent residency in China.”
Metropolitan Nikitas told TNH that he is not looking to succeed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. “I didn’t want to become a Metropolitan or a Bishop. I would have been happy just staying in my parish and serving the people of God. At this time, I hold no administrative position. I just want to be an hierarch of our Patriarchate, nothing more.”
When asked his opinion if the Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America would be allowed to become Turkish citizens as well, if they so desired, his response was “go ask them.”
Metropolitan Nikitas’ decision comes after a request made by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, following the current Turkish government’s assent to his request to grant Turkish citizenship to canonical bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate living outside of Turkey. This includes bishops living in patriarchal jurisdictions in Greece like Crete and the Dodecanese, as well as bishops from Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia.
TNH has learned that none of the hierarchs from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – including Archbishop Demetrios – have applied for Turkish citizenship, for now at least. The reason for this delay is largely due to the fact that they fear that the matter will be publicized and that the Greek American Community will react harshly to this move.
TNH first reported on this issue back in November 2009, during Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to the United States. Essentially, any bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who desire Turkish citizenship may apply for it to ensure their full participation in the administrative affairs of the Patriarchate – including the right to be candidates for the position of Ecumenical Patriarch and to vote in this election. This development was announced by Patriarch Bartholomew himself, during a dinner with Archbishop Demetrios and the other bishops of the Archdiocese on Sunday Nov. 1, 2009 at the Carlyle Hotel in New York.
During his visit to the U.S., Patriarch Bartholomew brought along the paperwork for the Archdiocese’s bishops to fill out, which he gave to Archbishop Demetrios to pass along to the other Metropolitans.
In addition to Metropolitan Nikitas, TNH has learned that the following hieararchs were called by Turkish authorities to sign paperwork for the processing of their applications.
From the Church of Crete: Metropolitan Eugenios of Ieraptyna, Metropolitan Nektarios of Petra, Metropolitan Andreas of Arkalochorion, and Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kissamos.
From the Dodecanese: Metropolitan Ambrosios of Karpathos and Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Symi.
From Western Europe: Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy, and Metropolitan Michael of Austria (who is also an Austrian citizen).
From South America: Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires, a U.S. citizen.
From Asia: Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, formerly of Korea.
From Oceania: Metropolitan Amphilochios of New Zealand.
TNH’s sources say that approximately forty bishops have sent in their applications. The previous fifteen were the first to be called.