Papa Eftim I

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Papa Eftim I
Turkish Orthodox Patriarch and Archbishop of Istanbul
Church Turkish Orthodox Church
See Istanbul
In office 1926 – 1962
Predecessor Prokobiyos as deputy patriarch
Successor Papa Eftim II
Ordination 1915
Consecration 1926
Personal details
Birth name Pavlos Karahisarithis (Zeki Erenerol)
Born 1884
Akdağmadeni, Ottoman Empire
Died 14 March 1968
Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Denomination Eastern Orthodox Church
Previous post Deputy Metropolitan of Keskin (1918-1919)

Papa Eftim I (Pavlos Karahisarithis (Greek: Παύλος Καραχισαρίδης) 1884 in Maden, Ankara Vilayet, Ottoman Empire[1] - 14 March 1968, Istanbul, Turkey), was the first Turkish Orthodox Patriarch of the Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate, an unrecognised Orthodox Christian denomination, that he founded. Eftim I had strong influences from Turkish nationalist ideology. He ruled as Patriarch from 1923 until 1962, when he resigned due to ill health. Keeping the title of honorary patriarch, he ordained his younger son as patriarch assuming the name Papa Eftim II.

Earlier years[edit]

Karahisarithis was born in Maden qadaa (today Akdağmadeni) of Bozok sanjak in 1884. He worked in a factory. He was ordained as a priest in 1915 and was given the name Eftim (Greek: Ευθύμιος). In the house of his neighbor Çerkes Ethem, he met Mustafa Kemal and became a supporter of his ideas. He took part on 23 April 1920 in the opening of the Turkish Parliament as representative of the Turkish Orthodox Community of All Anatolia (Umum Anadolu Türk Ortodoksları Cemaatleri).[1]

In 1922 the Autocephalous Orthodox Patriarchate of Anatolia was founded in Kayseri by Father Pavlos Karahisarithis a supporter of the General Congregation of the Anatolian Turkish Orthodox.[2] in opposition to Patriarch Meletius IV. During the meeting in a convent in Kayseri, decision was taken to establish a Turkish Christian church independent of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Karahisarithis moved to Istanbul in 1923, and took the name Pope Eftim I. The same year, his supporters, with his tacit support assaulted Patriarch Meletius IV on 1 June 1923.[3] On 2 October 1923 Papa Eftim besieged the Holy Synod and appointed his own Synod. When Eftim invaded the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate he proclaimed himself "the general representative of all the Orthodox communities" (Bütün Ortodoks Ceemaatleri Vekil Umumisi).

With a new Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory VII elected on 6 December 1923 after the abdication of Meletius IV, there was another occupation by Papa Eftim I and his followers, when he besieged the Patriarchate for the second time. This time around, they were evicted by the Turkish police.[4]

Establishment of the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate[edit]

In 1924, Karahisarithis started to conduct the liturgy in Turkish, and quickly won support from the new Turkish Republic formed after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.[5] He claimed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was ethnically-centered and favored the Greek population. Being excommunicated for claiming to be a bishop while still having a wife (married bishops are not allowed in Orthodoxy) Karahisarithis, who later changed his name into Zeki Erenerol, called a Turkish ecclesial congress, which elected him Patriarch in 1924.

On 6 June 1924, in a conference in the Church of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana) in Galata, it was decided to transfer the headquarters of the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate from Kayseri to Istanbul. In the same session it was also decided that the Church of Virgin Mary would become the Center of the new Patriarchate of the Turkish Orthodox Church.

Karahisarithis and his family members were exempted from the population exchange as per a decision of the Turkish government, although there was not the exemption for either Karahisarithis' followers or the wider Karamanlides communities of Turkish speaking Christian that was hoped for.[6] Most of the ethnic Turkish speaking Orthodox population remained affiliated with the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The excommunication of Papa Eftim was revoked and he is consecrated as a bishop by metropolitan bishops Amorsios of Kayseri, Kirilios of Erdek and Agatangelos of Adalar on 18 March 1926.

After the death of Mustafa Kemal, Papa Eftim lost some of his prestige in the eyes of the Turkish state. In 1953 he organized a demonstration march against the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and he continued to make statements against the Greek Patriarchate.

Resignation and death[edit]

He resigned in 1962 due to ill health and his elder son Turgut Erenerol (formerly Yiorghos Karahisarithis) became Papa Eftim II, and held this post until his death in 1991. The office was then passed to his younger son Selçuk Erenerol, who took the title Papa Eftim III until 2002. The current holder of the title is Paşa Ümit Erenerol, Papa Eftim I's grandson (son of Selçuk Erenerol, Papa Eftim III) who has held the title Papa Eftim IV since 2002.

He died on 14 March 1968 and was refused a burial in the Greek Orthodox cemetery of Sisli due to his excommunication, and the Turkish government had to intervene to secure his burial.[2]


  1. ^ a b Hurriyet: Türkçe dua eden bir papa (in Turkish)
  2. ^ a b Dr. Racho Donef — Sydney, Australia. January, 2003. (2004-01-23). "The Political Role of the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate (so-called)". Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  3. ^ The Ecumenical Patriarchate Under the Turkish Republic: The First Ten Years, by Harry J. Psomiades]
  4. ^ "The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Turkish-Greek Relations, 1923-1940". Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  5. ^ Leader of Turkish Nationalist Church Dies Archived January 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Hugo Rifkind (2013-11-03). "The empty spaces where Greeks once were". Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
Preceded by
as deputy patriarch
Patriarch of the Turkish Orthodox Church
Succeeded by
Papa Eftim II