Exposure of Rum Melkites to The Catholic Propaganda (1724-1856)
Keywords: Antioch, Ottoman, Greek, Melkite, Orthodox, Catholic, Patriarch
Ottoman Empire, by the beginning of the XVIII. century, began to decline in almost all areas against Europe. As a result of this decline, nations of various religions and races living in the Ottoman countries have also become vulnerable to European intervention and exploitation. Founded under the leadership of the Vatican and France, the Catholic Jesuit, Capuchin and Franciscan missionary organizations came to the Eastern Mediterranean from the beginning of the century and wanted to recruit Muslims and Jews living in Jerusalem, Antakya and Alexandria, the first cities where Christianity was born and developed. However, when it failed, Armenians were the first to be most influenced by Catholic missionaries among the Orthodox community of Armenians, Greeks and Arabs. Although the Ottoman Empire took some measures with the insistence of the Armenian Gregorian and Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchs and even passed a law that prohibited non-Muslim sectarian changes, missionary activities did not stop. This process continued from 1724 to 1916 and turned into a kind of inter-sectarian war in which international actors were also openly parties. Under the pressure of France, the Ottoman Empire had to recognize the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in 1830. The Greek Melkites formed from colonies who moved from Orthodoxy to Catholicism and who were excommunicated with the Kadıköy Council in 451 AD and were bound to the understanding of official churches, were soon attached to the newly established Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. However, in 1848, the Greek Melkites succeeded in gaining their independence from this patriarchate and in the same year they established the independent Greek Melkit Catholic Patriarchate. Nevertheless, the missionary activities and policies of Europeans through these communities have never ended. France has developed new political maneuvers by using Greek Melkites; and Russia by using other Greek and Arab Orthodox and through these congregations, they have intervened in the internal aff airs of the Ottomans and tried to make concessions. It was thought that these activities, which started as an inter-communal struggle and turned into international strategy wars after 1856, would be more appropriate to be examined in two separate sections between 1724-1856 and 1856-1916. In this first part of the study, which covers the years 1724-1856, the missionary activities organized in the axis of the Vatican and France and aimed at the disintegration of the Ottoman millet system were emphasized. The second part of the study, covering the period between1856-1916, has been examined as a separate article subject.