I have been asked by a US correspondent about our attitude to President Erdogan of Turkey, who has recently spoken about the massacre of Muslims by a Fascist fanatic in New Zealand and about turning Agia Sofia into a mosque again. Now, we have in our parish three Turkish Orthodox parishioners and soon there will be a fourth. Interestingly, they all have the same attitude to President Erdogan, the neo-Ottoman ‘Sultan of Turkey’: they consider that he is a nationalist dictator and find him very unpleasant and distasteful.
In this way, he is perhaps similar to many another tyrannical Middle Eastern ruler. We think immediately of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, who behead people by the dozens every year, keep most of the people dirt-poor and the rich ultra-rich, and have carried out a huge genocide (with enthusiastic Western backing) against the people of the Yemen. Not to mention the fact that they tortured and cut into little pieces a Saudi journalist in their consulate in Istanbul last October. Apparently this barbaric behaviour is quite agreeable to the Saudis and their Western sponsors and guardians. In other words, there is always worse than Erdogan, but, true, there could be better, only be careful – you may end up with worse. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine are outstanding examples. Thus, in Turkey, the US attempt to assassinate President Erdogan in July 2016 would surely have led to incredible strife and thousands of deaths.
Of course, there are Orthodox who strongly dislike President Erdogan, not because they are Turkish, but because they hate his threat that the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, for long a tourist site, may yet again become a mosque. However, this is a false problem. The real problem is that the Orthodox have shown themselves unworthy of having an Empire and a Capital. Until the Russians repent for their betrayal in 1917, there will be no Orthodox Emperor, and until the Greeks repent for their betrayal of Christianity which led to 1453, they will never have any power, and until they repent for their latest crimes in the Ukraine in 2019, Agia Sofia will become a mosque. The same is true for apostate Greek Cypriots, the northern third of whose island was occupied 45 years ago by Turkey, with full Western backing, and true for the Serbs in Kosovo, who forgot their Faith and were outpopulated by Albanians.
You always lose your territory when you show yourselves unworthy of having it. You bring it on yourself. Territory does not belong to us, it belongs to God and is only on loan to us for as long as we remain faithful to Him. Thus, Belgium was devastated in the First European War because of its crimes in Central Africa (millions of Africans mutilated or murdered), Britain lost its Empire because it swapped the Bible for the exploitation of natural resources and the same can be said for umpteen other empires throughout history, ancient and modern, from China to Babylon, from the Hindus to the Egyptians, from Timbuktu to Machu Picchu, from the Mayas to Zimbabwe, from France to Austro-Hungary. Power hangs by a thread; it is an illusion to think we have any power, we only have what is granted by God. The USA will lose its power for the same reasons. Spiritual and moral decadence is always followed by catastrophic collapse.
When Greeks or Russians begin converting Turkey to Christ, instead of hiding in their ethnic corners, then Istanbul will become Constantinople again and the Church of the Holy Wisdom will echo to praise for Christ in Turkish from the Turkish Orthodox faithful. But until then, expect only worse and worse. The fruit of non-repentance and self-justification is humiliation. It is the only thing that can bring humility to the unrepentant. In other words, there will be no Church of the Holy Wisdom until you have shown Holy Wisdom.