October 31, 2010. It seems like just a run-down building, but for the Orthodox Church based in modern-day Istanbul, it's a milestone. According an article in the Turkish newspaper Habeturk, the Turkish Government will return this orphanage, based on an the Buyukada Island in the Marmara Sea, to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The groundbreaking event marks the first time in history, the Republic of Turkey will return property belonging to a religious minority.
The secular Turkish government banned religious organizations from owning property in a law passed in 1936 … Until now.
According to the report, the move resulted in a hotly constested court ruling by the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
There are some 250 million Orthodox worldwide, who recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I as their leader... However there are only about 3,000 ethnic Greeks living in Turkey today. The Orthodox Church in Turkey has been subject to many restrictions over the past century.
Turkish officials have yet to confirm the news, though experts say the move will open “a can of worms,” as their are about 20 other buildings of great value that have been seized by the government.