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Turkey to Pay Salaries to Christian Priests

The Chief Ombudsman’s Office of Turkey has given the green light to the Directorate General of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to pay priests’ wages, thus satisfying the appeal by the the head of Boyachkoy Surb Yerits Mankants Armenian Church Foundation Nazaret Ozsahakyan.

The chief ombudsman, despite the controversial views between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate, presented an advisory opinion in which he called for "the abolishment of unjust treatment by amending the related regulations."

It is also stated, that in the process of reviewing Ozsahakyan’s appeal, the Chief Ombudsman’s Office also asked for the opinions of Turkey’s chief rabbi and the Syriac Orthodox Church Metropolitan, as well as Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate.

It turns out, that Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate does not like the idea of paying priests' salaries by the state. According to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Armenian, Syriac and Jewish communities believe that officiates in churches are "subject to a hierarchical and traditional structure and managing order according to Christianity and Judaism." 

In particular, Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate noted that clerical council taking into account the tradition according to which church servants' salaries are paid by the members of the community, resuming of this archaic tradition would be appropriate.

In contrast to the Armenian Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate believes that the financial assistance provided by the state should be directly transferred to their centers.

It should be noted that Ankara recognizes only the Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities as religious minorities which is not under the jurisdiction of the General Administration for Religious Affairs of Turkey.

There is a fear that paying salaries to the churchs' servants of religious minorities can increase Diyanet interference in the internal affairs of these communities.

Nowadays Diyanet writes the weekly sermons delivered at the nation’s 85,000 mosques, which are under its control, pays all of Turkey’s imams salaries, who are rather considered civil servants and are trained by the state.


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