The highest decision body of the General Directorate of Foundations, Vakıflar Meclisi signed a resolution which is closely related to the minority foundations and let the General Directorate to assign free of charge the churches and synagogues to the minority foundations.
In the context of the resolution, Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) Church Taksim Gümüşsuyu, which Syriac Catholic community is using in Istanbul was allocated free of charge to the Istanbul Syriac Catholic Church Foundation for 49 years by the General Directorate of Foundations. In the same way, the Mor Yuhanna (St. John) Church in Antioch was allocated to the Arsuz Greek Orthodox Church Foundation free of charge.
According to Anatolian News Agency, a new article has been added to the statement of Foundation such as “No price might be asked for the immovables used for public institutions and organizations and places used for worship.”
Foundations General Director Adnan Ertem, in his assessment stated that this decision is also important in terms of Europe’s perception about Turkey.
Ertem signed also a protocol with the Syriac Catholic Foundation for the church building. The Representative of the Minority Community Foundations in Turkey stated: “We would like to thank all the members of the Foundations Council, especially Dr. Adnan Ertem, and we congratulate the Syriac Catholic community for the assignment of their church. May God accept their worship. ”
Zeki Basatemir, the President of the Syriac Catholic Foundation in Istanbul, said, “A third of my life was spent trying to solve problems related to the administration of this church. We are glad for this decision. I wrote a letter of appreciation to the General Director of Foundations, Mr. Adnan Ertem. We received the church 21 years ago and we were sorry when we lost it in 2003. Now we are very happy. God be pleased with our State. ”
Sacre Coeur Church used by the Syriac Catholic community of Istanbul, was built in 1910 by the Jesuit priests.
After leave of Jesuits from Turkey, this property had been transferred to the State Treasury. Syriac Catholics who had to leave their homelands in the South-Est of the country since the 1970s and came to Istanbul, started to use this church which was in ruins at that time because they did not have other churches in Istanbul.
The church, which was allocated to the Istanbul Syriac Catholic Church Foundation in 1997 free of charge for 99 years, was later faced with the court process between the General Directorate of Foundation and the Treasury; and problems related to the allocation of free of charge occurred. The process went as far as the ECHR.
Also, the Chief Rabbinate of the Jewish community in Turkey congratulated the Syriac Community by posting a message on Twitter.