Turkey: No Restitution of Church Property to the Catholic Church ... but a Restoration

Source: FSSPX News

The Armenian Catholic church in the province of Diyarbakir.

The Catholic Church in Turkey does not appear to benefit from the law on the restitution of property confiscated from non-Muslim religious foundations. Rinaldo Marmara, cultural attaché and spokesman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Turkey, speaking to the Italian Religious Information Service (CRS) on September 6th explained that this law, published August 27, 2011, applies only to Armenians, Greek Orthodox, and Jews.

The Catholic Church does not have the legal capacity to recover her property. “This law concerns minority communities (Greek, Armenian, Jewish) who have their property registered in the name of Foundation. These communities of Turkish nationality have legal status through their foundations. This is not the case with the Latin Catholic Church, considered as a foreign person,” said Rinaldo Marmara. A spokesman announced that the bishops discussed the possibility of recovering property lost in recent years at the meeting of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey on September 26th.

On October 22, 2011, the Episcopal Conference of Turkey announced a “new positive movement” to the Catholic agency Fides. Indeed, the Turkish government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who ordered the restitution of property confiscated from religious foundations since 1936, decided to restore various churches, synagogues and monasteries existing in Turkey. Among the places of worship whose restoration the government authorities considered are the Armenian Catholic church in the province of Diyarbakir, the largest synagogue in the province of Edirne,  the Greek church Taksiyarhis on the island of Cunda, many Greek churches and monasteries on the island of Imbro, the Syrian Church of Antioch, and the Greek-Catholic church of Iskenderun. In addition, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicolas, which was demolished in 1960, will be rebuilt in Bodrum (a tourist area in southwestern Turkey) on the basis of an agreement approved by the mayor and members of the municipal assembly. (Sources: apic / Sir / fides - DICI No. 243 of 10/28/11)